In Suspense's "A Passage to Benares" Paul Stewart stars as an American tourist in Trinidad who becomes caught in a murder investigation. This episode is based on the short story of the same name by T.S. Stribling, which was first published in Adventure magazine (Feb. 20, 1926). Suspense made a few shortcuts, but their version is essentially the same as the written work.
The book Clues of the Caribbees: Being Certain Criminal Investigations of Henry Poggioli, Ph.D (1929) contains the original five stories about the main character, Poggioli. The last of these is "A Passage to Benares."
This episode, and the short story, include the racial slur "coolie" and other cultural insensitivity that may immediately turn off a modern listener. At first, this might be offensive enough to give up on this episode, but see it through to the end. "A Passage to Benares" is set in the 1920's in Trinidad, when it was still under British rule, and the demeaning language and the cultural arrogance are part of the time period. As it progresses, the story shifts into a different level of consciousness.
As the episode opens, Henry Poggioli wakes to find himself sleeping on the floor of a Hindu temple. Groggy and disoriented, he gets up and returns to the home of his friend, Mr. Lowell, with whom he is staying. They sit down to breakfast and discuss the local news. Mr. Lowell then brings up an item in the paper which demonstrates his notion that natives kill their wives for no reason. A man is in jail for having murdered his child bride only a few hours after they were married. In fact, Poggioli and Mr. Lowell saw the wedding procession pass them and enter the temple last night.
Mr. Lowell then remarks on what a good thing it was that they did not follow through on Poggioli's idea of seeing what it is like to spend a night in the temple/rest house with the mendicant Hindu pilgrims.
Mr. Poggioli agrees....but he did spend the night in the temple...
"A Passage to Benares" was written by T.S. Stribling and adapted for radio by Carroll Case. John Dietz directed and William Spier produced. Bernard Herrmann was the composer. Paul Stewart starred. Also appearing were Horace Brent, Alan Hewitt, Guy Repp, and Berry Kroeger. This episode aired on September 23, 1942.