Monday, July 16, 2007

OTR: The Green Lama & The Scarlet Cloak

Unlike The Shadow, his contemporary the Green Lama began in the pulps and comics before coming to radio. While the Lama’s career in print lasted a few decades, his radio incarnation was limited to eleven episodes as a summer replacement show on CBS. Voiced by Paul Frees, who is better known to modern day fans for his long career in animation and commercials, although Frees was very busy in the days of OTR. In this set the Green Lama is represented by two shows from that short-lived series.

Jethro Dumont was your typical wealthy young man, who at some point went to Tibet for ten years to study. When he returned, having mastered many mysterious powers he dedicated his life to fighting for justice. Using martial arts the Lama didn’t resort to the use of a weapon, as did the Shadow and other pulp heroes. Also, he didn’t really cloud men’s minds but was able to confuse his enemies enough to disarm and overcome them.

Unlike many of his fellow crime fighters, Dumont was known openly as the Green Lama and made no attempt to hide his identity. The green robe with cowl that the he wore in his print adventures wasn’t used in the radio program. According to the opening narration, Dumont chose the name because in Tibet the color green represents justice.

Since he was famous it wasn’t unusual for Dumont to be called to different locales outside the U.S. to assist friends in need. In the two episodes here, “The Man Who Never Existed” takes him to an excavation in Mexico, while “The Million Dollar Chopsticks” finds him in Hong Kong.

Along with shows representing some of the better known OTR heroes we also have an unsuccessful one. The Adventures of the Scarlet Cloak was an audition tape for sponsors and stations for a show that doesn’t seem to have actually gone on the air.

Wendell Niles, who has a long career as an announcer both in radio and on television. Here he voiced the role of Brad Carver, an orphan who returns to Monterey, California twenty years later to avenge their murder. Upon renewing an acquaintance with an old family friend, Carver learns that his father was “El Diablo”, a Zorro-like masked avenger. When his enemies learn his identity they kill both he and his wife, the young Brad is rescued and sent to live with relatives in the east so that his life will be spared.

Carver takes the name Bradford to conceal both his real identity and the fact that he has taken up the scarlet cloak and sword of his father. The pilot sets up the back-story, along with revealing the mysterious man who had his parents killed as the wealthy, Don Ramon de la Torres. To complicate things and set up further conflict Carver/Bradford finds himself drawn to de la Torres’ daughter.

The audition tape says that the Scarlet Cloak was expected to be both a radio and television show, but I have no idea if a pilot was shot for that or if Niles would have also been involved in that version.
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