Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Quiet Please was an old-time radio horror program created by Wyllis Cooper, also known for creating Lights Out (radio show). Ernest Chappell was the show's announcer and "featured actor." Quiet Please was first broadcast on June 8, 1947, and its last episode ran on June 25, 1949. A total of 106 shows were broadcast, with only a very few of them repeats.
Though the general thrust of the stories were fantasy, horror and suspense, Cooper's scripts for Quiet Please covered a large thematic range: humor--some of it quite self-deprecating--romance, science fiction and family drama. Regardless of content, most episodes had a dreamlike, surreal quality: Odd or paranormal events are related, but rarely explained.
Some episodes will seem dated to modern ears, but others are still as effective as when they were first broadcast.
Each episode began (Otr intro quiet please.mp3) with Cooper intoning the show's title twice, with a long pause in between, inspiring collectors and reviewers to remark upon Cooper's use of the dramatic power of silence. The show's theme music, a funereal piano dirge , was an organ and piano version of Cesar Franck's 1899 composition Symphony in D Minor.
Compared to other contemporary radio dramas, Quiet Please used fewer sound effects and less dialogue, depending instead on first person narration to drive each play. Most episodes featured no more than two or three actors, with the first person voice being taken by Chapel in all but a very few episodes.
Scripts sometimes flirted with meta-fictional ploys, such as breaking down the fourth wall by speaking directly to the listener. In "The Other Side of the Stars'" (broadcast May 8, 1949), Chappell portrays a man named Esau, who relates--on live radio--the tale of his girlfriend's odd fate after discovering a conquistador's armor while exploring a well in Arizona, but he is repeatedly interrupted by her brother, who arrived uninvited for the broadcast.
Seevral episodes blurred the distiction between performer and fictional character: In a few episodes (such as "Is This Murder"), Ernest Chappell portrays a man named "Ernest"; and in "Where Do You Get Your Ideas?" Cooper portrays himself, while Chappell portrays a drunken barfly, pestering the writer.
For many years, the majority of the show's episodes were feared lost, with only twelve episodes in general circulation among collectors until the late 1980s. At this time over 80 more episodes were discovered, comprising the majority of the series' run. Many of the recordings are of rather poor sound quality, but are treasured by collectors all the same for their rarity.
A few episodes are presumed lost, though scripts survive for most of them.
Probably the most highly regarded episode of Quiet Please is "The Thing on the Fourble Board" (August 8, 1949), about an oil-field worker who encounters a mysterious subterranean being hiding on the derrick's catwalk. The story's twist ending has led some fans to label the episode one of the best radio horror programs ever broadcast.
Writer Harlan Ellison has praised Quiet Please, and rates it as one of the finest and most effective programs in the history of radio or television.
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