The Premature Burial by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by George Lowthar

Contact Us

Download The Premature Burial from CBS Mystery Theater

CBS Mystery Theater, 6 January 1975
CBS Mystery Theater was an ambitious and sustained attempt toi recreate the atmosphere associated with the old radio anthology series of the 1930s and 1940s.  The series was created by Himan Brown, who was also responsible for The Inner Sanctum Mysteries, and ran from 1974-1982.  Each episode opened with the creaking of a door, accompanied by host E. G. Marshall's doom-laden statement: "Come in.  Welcome.  I am E. G. Marshall."
The Premature Burial, number 197 in the series, told a macabre tale of a doctor helping his friend dig up the corpose of his loved one.  They find her to be alive, but have to contend with the loved one's evil husband in order to get her back.
This was familiar Poe territory, accompanied by the usual melange of eerie sounds and atmospheric music.  Marshall's narration emphasized the story's other-worldly qualities; it might seem fantastic, but not to those who believe in the power of the human spirit to transcend the norms imposed on it by various societies.
Despite all the atmospherics, however, I was left dissatisfied.  Perhaps Poe has been done a little too much in this kind of style: one only has to remember the Roger Corman cycle of adaptations in the 1960s, or the memorable radio version done by the BBC in the 1940s in The Man in Black series for examples.  I believe that Poe is still read today on account of his belief in human possibilities; his characters strive to travel, both intellectually and emotionally, into areas that have seldom been discovered.  They might suffer as a result, but we admire them for doing so.  Adaptations that focus on this aspect of the author's work have a lot more resonance.
Nonetheless the cast of this adaptation did sterling work, led by Keir Dullea as the young man, Paul Hecht as the doctor, and Guy Sorel as a lip-smackingly evil husband.