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Radio Drama: "The Shrunken Head" (1942)

The Shrunken Head"The Shrunken Head"

Original air date: June 13, 1942, from the series The Whistler

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Initial Thoughts

I am very excited to hear this because I feel like you can’t go too wrong with a title like ‘The Shrunken Head’ and if you do, that will probably be kind of spectacular also.

Thoughts While I Listen

The story has just started and there has already been mention of jungle fever, driving rain, quickening darkness, an old manor, a lady being told she should probs leave, said lady screaming, a butler named Victor and a train station. I AM READY FOR ALL THE SCARY THINGS.

Only marginally wary of what exotic exoticness will be behind the story of the shrunken head but who knows, maybe it’s actually someone’s Aunt Margaret from Tooting.

Main cast of characters: Marie the girl, Clay the dude, Peter the uncle.

The Whistler’s style of narration is sometimes like oh Marie if you knew what I knew you wouldn’t go into the house but you don’t know anything so hahahaha in your stupid face.

Marie is going to meet her uncle now. HOW COOL WOULD IT BE IF HE WAS A SHRUNKEN HEAD.

He is not a shrunken head :(

We are now going to see the uncle’s museum of collectibles which means we are going to see the shrunken head and other exotic things that dudes were wont to bring back from their exotic travels abroad.

If you go to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum in Mumbai, you will see so many exotic European things that Ratan Tata brought back from his travels abroad, which, if memory serves, included a lot of walking sticks and this massive baby made out of some kind of black metal.

Something is squeaking in this museum.

The uncle’s favourite shrunken head used to be a white man until head hunters in South America took said white man and turned him into a shrunken head called Charlie which means this isn’t someone’s Aunt Margaret from Tooting I guess.

The Whistler keeps chuckling and saying poor Marie. The Whistler is kind of a jerk.

Marie is asleep and having nightmares and this little voice is saying ‘my name’s Charlie’ and I keep giggling and feeling bad because I don’t think it’s supposed to be funny.

Marie cannot sleep after the nightmare so she is staring at the roof of her bed instead of the ceiling, like we do today.

It’s morning now and everyone is fine and happy and breakfasting and we learn that Marie will be worth a ‘cool million’ once she marries. Something bad is going to happen to Marie.

In order to keep herself occupied, Marie now has a job cataloguing books. This is something I have often thought I would be good at because why not.

She just got fired.

She just got fired again.

She just got fired again.

She just got fired again.

Marie is flummoxed at her inability to hold down a job. Is it because she keeps having nightmares about Charlie saying My Name is Charlie? Or is it because she’s a woman?

Oh noes! Charlie is missing from the museum of collectibles!

Marie is having another nightmare and the voice keeps saying ‘my name’s Charlie’ and Marie keeps going No! and I keep going hahahaha sorry.

Marie shrieks really well. It is striking without being jarring and she enunciates well, which I think is important when you shriek on the radio.

Charlie should say ‘I am Aunt Margaret from Tooting’ instead.

So Marie says that Charlie was ‘nestled like an orange in her hand’ but now Charlie is not there anymore and Uncle Peter is like oh ok fyi there are crazy people in our family.

Charlie is back in the museum of collectibles. BUT! Right after Charlie was nestled like an orange in Marie’s hand, he was flung far and long by Marie because what else does one do when a shrunken head is nestled like an orange in one’s hand- and his ear fell off! Said ear was retrieved by Clay who was able to confirm that it was indeed Charlie’s ear, thus proving that Marie was not losing her marbles.

Clay, being the discovering kind of dude that he is, has further discovered that Uncle Peter told everyone that Marie was crazy, thus explaining her overall poor job performance.

Clay has discovered yet another discovery! Uncle Peter was transmitting his voice to Marie’s room via a radio loudspeaker.

Radio loudspeaker lol.

Uncle Peter just screamed GIVE ME THAT EAR! which is great and also not something one hears very often.

Some men have taken him away now but I don’t know where they came from.

Clay has used his super-duper discovering skills once again and found out that Uncle Peter wasn’t Marie’s real uncle he was Marie’s dad’s foster brother which means she’s not crazy even though he is because he was just a foster uncle and not a real uncle and then Clay’s father was Peter’s partner and he killed himself, Clay’s father I mean, and I don’t understand anything anymore but it’s over so whatever.

Thoughts After Listening

This was fun and confusing. Special props to Clay’s discovering skills, which were very commendable, considering he did not have any Google to help him. And I feel like I have a bad habit of casually referring to Tooting like I know all about it when I actually don’t so I’m very sorry for that.