Comments on The Man Who Stole a Planet
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Posted Dec 23, 2007 - 2:23 PM:
"THE MAN WHO STOLE A PLANET"
WOR - MBS - Mon July 26, 1948 - 9:00-9:55 PM EDST
REH - Mon July 26, 1948 - 2:00- 5:00 PM EDST Studio 2
Mon July 26, 1948 - 8:00- 9:30 PM EST Studio 15
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(SEVEN SECONDS' SILENCE)
CHAPPELL: Quiet, please.
(MUSIC: ... THEME ... FADE FOR)
ANNCR: The Mutual Broadcasting System presents "Quiet, Please!" which is written and directed by Wyllis Cooper, and which features Ernest Chappell. "Quiet, Please!" for tonight is called "The Man who Stole a Planet."
(MUSIC: ... THEME ... FADE)
NORMAN: [X]I'm glad to be back.
And I'm glad to be out of the hospital, even if I do have to walk around with a cane for the next few months. I'm just glad to be home with Elisabeth, and plenty of time to play with my latest gadgets.
And you can paste this in your hat, too: I'm never going back to Mexico again. And neither's Elisabeth. Mexico you can have, to keep.[/X]
I've been a very fortunate fellow, having money enough to do what I wanted to do - and knowing what I wanted to do with it.
[X]I went nutty about Mexico and the Mayan ruins down south when I was a kid, when Uncle Cliff took me on a trip to Yucatán. They were just beginning to uncover some of the pyramids in the jungle then, and archeologists who'd spent their lives in Asia Minor and Egypt and places like that started flocking to Mexico in platoons.[/X]
[X]And - well, I said I've got money.[/X] I suppose I'm the best known amateur authority on Mexico and [the ruins of the] Mayans and the pre-Mayans there is, although if you're not interested in that kind of stuff, you never heard of me. So what?
So, if you're not, go on and read the baseball scores or tune in a quiz program or just do whatever you want to. I can't stop you, and I frankly don't care what you do if you're not interested. But if you are interested, just keep quiet and listen. And sit still. No, don't sit still. Stretch your neck a little and look down into this thing. Ever see one before? A deep-freeze. People keep frozen foods and stuff in these things. That is, most people do. I keep dead men in it.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: See? Oh, no, I didn't kill him.
Matter of fact, I'm not entirely sure he's dead. He doesn't breathe; his heart isn't beating; if he isn't dead, he ought to take down his sign.
He was just like that when he was walking around. Like a mummy. And that outfit he's got on. That's the uniform of a very high priest of a race of people who inhabited a certain part of Mexico in the fifth century A. D.
It fits him, too. It's his own uniform.
Well, sure I know about these things. I've spent too many years at this business to be fooled.
I know that's what you laymen expect to hear from archeologists - lot of stuff about walking mummies and weird curses and all that Boris Karloff routine. But take it from a practicing member of the profession: archeology involves a great deal more grubbing in the ground, and sifting wheelbarrowsful of dirt than it does dodging zombies.
However: here I am on a July evening in the year of our Lord 1948, with a houseful of extremely dead high priests who were born in the Mexican jungle some fourteen hundred years ago.
No, I didn't cart them back with me.
No. They walked in on me.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: Oh, take that supercilious smile off your face!
I know what you're thinking. More of that supernatural stuff. More of that H P Lovecraft stuff, that "my blood froze in my veins at the eldritch (whatever that is) being that towered above me". Well, don't kid yourself. What you people call "supernatural" is just as natural as apples growing on a tree. The only thing is, our great thinkers, our figurers-out, they all stop when they come to something they can't explain immediately with their slide rules and their log tables and spectroscopes and stuff.
And once in a while somebody finds out something, and a little chunk of the so-called "supernatural" slides over into the field of exact science, and everybody says I knew it all the time. My eye!
So if men dead fifteen hundred years can walk around, there's a perfectly logical explanation for it. They know the explanation; we don't. And if we ever find it out, accidentally, there'll be a hundred thousand scientists to tell you they could have done it a long time ago, only they were working on nuclear fission and other more practical benefits to the human race. Thing is, I don't care how they do it. My interest is in why they're here; that's what affects me.
Oh, I didn't tell you why they're here.
Quite simple. They want something I've got. Something I brought back from Mexico with me. Something I stole from them. And, I may say, something I want very much to keep. So that's my problem, children. What's yours?
(MUSIC: ... FOR AN END)
NORMAN: Excuse me. I've been doing all the talking ... this is my wife, my beautiful wife; her name is Elisabeth. You can call her Liz.
LIZ: [X]How do you do?[/X]
Look, don't let my husband fool you. He talks as if this is all very amusing, and very simple. But believe me, he's just as frightened as I am.
NORMAN: (OFF) You can say that again, Liz.
LIZ: Be still, dear. You see, I was with him in Mexico -
NORMAN: (OFF) I wouldn't be here now if she hadn't been.
LIZ: Please, Norman. I'm an explorer, too - though I'm afraid I'm not much of an archeologist. But I'm a very good cook.
NORMAN: (OFF) Mmmm.
LIZ: And I'm the serious member of this family. So I'm going to tell you what happened, without interruptions, I hope, because we think maybe you might be able to help us. I don't know how exactly -
NORMAN: (OFF) Neither do I.
LIZ: - but you listen, and if you can ... well ...
This was our fourteenth trip to Mexico. We flew to Mexico City, then down to Vera Cruz, and our people met us at [X]Querétaro[/X] [Mérida]. And -
NORMAN: (COMING BACK) If you'll excuse me a minute, darling, I think one of our friends is looking in the window.
LIZ: (FRIGHTENED) Oh, Norman -
NORMAN: Just sit still; I'll be right back.
LIZ: (AFTER A LONG PAUSE) Honestly, I'm simply scared to death. We've been so fortunate this far ... we always discover them in time, but what will happen if one gets in, and we don't see him -
SOUND: (A SMALL GLASS CRASH, OFF, AS NORMAN BUSTS A WINDOW AND)
[scream - Norman]
LIZ: (EMITS A SMALL SCREAM) Norman!
NORMAN: (OFF) Okay. (COMING BACK) I had to bust the window, though.
SOUND: (HE IS DRAGGING SOMETHING)
NORMAN: I'd better put this one away. No telling what'd happen to us if some curious policeman got a look at - see? Same uniform ... same badge on his left arm..
LIZ: Just like the ones carved on the - thing.
NORMAN: The guardians. The watchers.
SOUND: (HE HEAVES THE THING UP)
NORMAN: Okay, priesty-wiestie, have a nice sleep.
LIZ: Oh, Norman, I wish you wouldn't be so - so flippant about things!
NORMAN: Flippant? (A LITTLE PAUSE AND HE LAUGHS SHORTLY) Listen, sweetheart, do you mind? I'm just about ready to go over there in a corner and scream! If I see one more of these - (HE SUBSIDES) I'm sorry.
LIZ: Oh, darling, hadn't we better take it back?
NORMAN: No! (A PAUSE) Only ... how long is this going to go on?
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT AND GO TO BG)
NORMAN: Yeah ... how long is it going to go on?
You've never been inside one of those great stone pyramids the Mayans built in the Guatemala jungles so many, many forgotten years ago ...
You've never smelled the dead smell ... the sour-sweet odour of the rotting vegetation that's crept in through the crevices between the stones and died a thousand times ... the musty grave smell of those low tunnels with the maddening paintings on the walls at your elbows, and the figures seeming to gibber at you in the light of a Coleman lantern ... and sweat, and the feeling that snakes are waiting for you in the darkness at the end ... [X]they worshipped snakes - Kukulean, the snake-god[/X] ... and they tore people's hearts out, and hurled their beautiful daughters to the devil-god that lives in a bottomless pit ... We've been in the middle of all that a lot of times, haven't we, darling?
LIZ: (SHUDDERING) And the rites of spring and the harvest ... the Corn Maidens, dying horribly in the [X][?][/X] [fields] to preserve the fertility of the land ...
NORMAN: We've got a right to be scared!
We saw the pictures of what they did to their prisoners, the ones they thought had done evil to their gods. We saw what was left of the poor victims ... we've got a right to be scared.
We've outwitted them so far ... but how long can it go on?
LIZ: Take it back, Norman.
NORMAN: (STUBBORNLY) No, I won't. I found it, and this world of ours today can use it. It can do more good here than it ever would in a mouldy underground room beneath a teocalli in - where we found it.
LIZ: Tell them about it, Norman, and see if they don't agree, you ought to take it back.
NORMAN: I don't care what they say! It's mine, and I'm going to keep it! You hear me! I'm going to keep it, I said!
(MUSIC: .... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: We'd heard about the place so many times. [X]One of the guides would drop a word, just a little hint. We'd hear about some chiclero who had spent a night in the vicinity of the place and been scared out of ten years of his life. A lavandera, a washwoman, would mention a name ...
And in the crabbed, faded handwriting in the diary of Pánfila Ortiz y Madariaga, the deserter from Cortes' army who died a renegade in the Mexican jungles in 1546, there are many references to it. [/X] "The Place where the World Lives", [X][?][/X] [they] called it; and "The Place where the World Lives" is what it's still called - though the world doesn't live there any more; not since Liz and I found the deep galleries and took away the greatest treasure that the world has ever seen.
All right; now you know; and when you hear a little more about it, and see it, you'll forgive me for being dramatic: the greatest treasure the world has ever seen.
LIZ: Well, tell about it!
NORMAN: Will you take it easy, please!
We finally found the place. Let's see if I can tell you about it. A wilderness of high grass. A kind of grass we'd never seen before; higher than our heads, sharp-edged as razor blades ... [X]a flat plateau and a sea of grass, and nothing ... nothing at all to indicate human beings had ever been there before. Nothing to see ... nothing but tall grass that clutched at us and slashed at us.[/X]
LIZ: Look at my arms.
NORMAN: Loathsome insects hanging onto the two-inch blades of grass; silence, and dripping, heat and crawling things. And how I found the place, I'll never know. [X]Maybe we were led there by something you people might call supernatural; something that wanted us to find the place where the world lived, and ... to do what we did, for good or bad, however it turns out.
But we found it.[/X]
There was nothing to warn us. We just slashed our way through one more stand of high grass, and there was the door. The door was open, and a kind of ramp led straight down. Into darkness. Darkness that seemed to begin a little too close to the bright entrance. Darkness that ... that made you shiver there in the horrible heat that covered us like a ... a coffin lid.
Yes, of course we went in. We lighted our lanterns and went in, alone. That was what we came for, wasn't it? And I think we were the first human beings who had set foot on that long stone ramp in a great many centuries. We knew it; we could feel it.
The passageway wasn't so bad - except for the pictures on the walls. I think I'd rather not tell you about them. They were put there, of course, to give any intruder an idea of what would happen to him if he got caught in there. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. [X]What, dear?
LIZ: I said don't let's talk about the pictures.
NORMAN: All right; but just let me say this: if we hadn't been sure that everyone in that place was dead, had been dead for a long time, we'd have turned back.
But we went on.
And we found what we'd come for.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)[/X]
NORMAN: I want to remember [X]that[/X] [this] very clearly, Liz. You stumbled against something.
LIZ: It was the lever that opened the [inner] door. And the door opened, and I said, we've found it, Norman.
NORMAN: And the door closed behind us.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
LIZ: And our lanterns went out!
NORMAN: I put out my hand for Liz, and she was still there. And we stood there a minute, and I got over my first fear, and Liz was kind of moaning in the dark ...
LIZ: (WHIMPERS A LITTLE)
NORMAN: It's okay, honey. Stand still, so we don't get separated from each other. Just stand still. I'll light the lanterns again ...
LIZ: No, wait. There's a light ...
NORMAN: And there was a little light, a little faint light, down there under the earth, and at first I couldn't see where it came from. But our eyes got more and more used to the dim radiance, and we finally saw where it was coming from.
LIZ: That little globe there, Norman ...
NORMAN: I think so, too. Come on, let's look at it closer.
SOUND: (THEIR HESITANT, SHUFFLING FOOTSTEPS ACROSS THE ROCK FLOOR AND STOP)
LIZ: [cue] What is it, Norman?
NORMAN: I can't ... looks like a baseball, doesn't it, kind of?
LIZ: What's holding it up?
NORMAN: I don't - I can't - (HE'S EXAMINING IT) - it just seems to be suspended in the air. I'll be darned.
LIZ: L-light the lanterns.
SOUND: (HE DOES SO)
NORMAN: Wait - don't touch it, Liz!
LIZ: I can't touch it!
LIZ: It's inside something - a globe of some kind ... crystal, I guess. Feel.
NORMAN: Hm. What do you know about that? Here, hold up the lantern; I want to look at it close. (A PAUSE WHILE HE LOOKS) Liz! Liz! Look here - look at this!
NORMAN: Look - see what it is?
LIZ: Just a little ball of silver, or - oh, Norman!
NORMAN: You see?
LIZ: That isn't possible!
NORMAN: Liz, this is the greatest archaeological treasure anyone has ever seen!
LIZ: It can't be -
NORMAN: It is! See, there's the North American continent! Look around here ... Europe ... Asia, Africa ...
LIZ: It's the world!
NORMAN: Do you realize what it means? It means that these people knew the world is round hundreds of years before Columbus proved it! It proved that the people who lived here knew all about the world - look - even Australia - it's perfect! Why, this'll upset every scientific - my lord, woman, do you realize what a discovery this is?
LIZ: I'm afraid of it.
NORMAN: Oh, stop it! Oho! I found what holds it up!
NORMAN: It's not suspended in mid-air at all. See these two little wires... one from each pole? See?
LIZ: I see ... oh, Norman, it's so beautiful - and so terrifying...
NORMAN: Terrifying my eye. This is one treasure the Mexican government isn't going to get.
LIZ: Are you going to take it?
NORMAN: Are you kid -
SOUND: (THERE IS A GENTLE BUT STONY BUMP AS THE DOOR SWINGS OPEN...LIZ JUMPS)
LIZ: What was that?
NORMAN: (LOOKING AROUND) The door blew open. (GRINS) I was wondering how we were going to get out again ... Now everything's going to -
LIZ: (BETWEEN A GASP AND A SCREAM) Norman!
NORMAN: And I nearly dropped the lantern. Because, when I turned around to look at the door, [X][?][/X] rays [from my the lanterns] lit up the circular rock-hewn room we stood in. And ranged around the walls, two feet apart, were the high priests in all their regalia - just like these you looked at - all of them staring at us, each one of them with a bow in his outstretched left hand, and an obsidian-tipped arrow drawn to the head, aimed straight at Liz and me.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: It was only a second before I realised they were all dead; that they had been placed there long centuries ago, and that they were harmless.
And I laughed, and I picked up the crystal globe that the little world lived in, and, and Liz and I made our way outside to the world of grass and sunlight and I, like some twentieth century Atlas, carried the world on my shoulder.
I turned and looked back for a moment at the door ... and there, framed in the blackness beyond, stood an ancient man in the regalia of a high priest such as we had left behind us when we stole the world, and the arrow on his bow was pointed at my heart.
So I shot him, and he fell kicking, and I slapped Liz when she started to cry, and we came away.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: Take a look again at this first fellow I showed you. See? See the bullet hole in his head? Yes. He's the same one I shot; I'll never forget his face.
(MUSIC: ... TO END THE SEQUENCE)
NORMAN: Well, there isn't much more to tell. Is there, Liz?
LIZ: I think there is.
NORMAN: [X][?][/X] [Oh that's right]. Come in here. I want you to see this world - this little silver globe that was fashioned nearly a thousand years before Columbus was born, in a Mexican jungle that hasn't even got a name.
SOUND: (HE OPENS A DOOR)
NORMAN: Come in. Here it is.
SOUND: (HE CLOSES THE DOOR)
NORMAN: Quite a thing, isn't it? What? Oh, yes; I managed finally to break the crystal globe it was in. The day of that big earthquake in Japan, it was. Yes. I don't know why it still stays suspended in the air like that. There's a reason for it, of course. No, not supernatural. Perfectly natural, if we could only find out why. But there's something else I wanted you to see.
Look at it closely. Isn't it beautiful? The continents, in relief - see the mountains? The Rockies - the Himalayas over here ... and the ocean really looks wet, doesn't it? Wonderful workmanship.
LIZ: Oh, Norman, please ...
Here, look at it with the magnifying glass. See anything? No, I guess you can't. You'd have to watch it for a long time to see. I was ... well, I'll say surprised when I discovered it. Well, it's turning. It's turning on its axis once every twenty-four hours.
(MUSIC: ... AN ACCENT)
NORMAN: It's been revolving like that once every twenty-four hours for a million million million years, friend.
(MUSIC: ... A LARGER ACCENT)
NORMAN: So you see, I have got the the greatest treasure the world has ever seen, haven't I? I really did steal the world - and I'll tell you something! The world is mine! Sure. Let anybody do anything I don't like; I'll take care of them. It's my world, see?
You don't believe it? Look here. This is a very fine platinum blow pipe. This is water. See here? That's the Sahara Desert. Watch.
LIZ: No, Norman, please don't -
NORMAN: Get away, Liz. Watch, friend.
SOUND: (HE BLOWS A VERY FINE SPRAY OF WATER ONTO THE GLOBE)
NORMAN: You see? Nothing happened? Is that so? Liz, turn on the radio. There's a news program on now. Go ahead. Just keep quiet for a second.
LIZ: (OFF) Norman, I don't want -
NORMAN: urn it on. And be still, all of you.
RADIO: (AFTER A MOMENT) ... hopes for immediate peace in the Holy Land. Just a moment, please. Okay. Ladies and gentlemen, it is reported that the Sahara Desert, the driest place in the world, has been suddenly inundated by widespread cloudbursts of unimagined intensity! The rolling sand dunes of the world's greatest desert are now submerged beneath a sea of water, and hundreds of persons are reported -
NORMAN: Turn it down.
SOUND: (THE RADIO FADES OUT QUICKLY)
NORMAN: (LAUGHS) See? Sorry if I killed some people, but - (HE LAUGHS AGAIN) I may have to kill lots of people some day, so ... it's practice. Don't believe it? Here. Take this needle. No? Well, watch me. What shall we destroy? No, not a town ... we'll wait for that. Besides I can't pinpoint a town on a globe this size, exactly. Let's see - where's this -
LIZ: Norman, please, please don't -
NORMAN: Liz, will you sit down, please, and shut up? Now ... I guess this is fairly uninhabited ... northern Minnesota ... it's all deep forest here, and they've never had an earthquake [X]there[/X], so ...
LIZ: Norman -
NORMAN: Just jab it a few times with the needle ...
SOUND: (THERE IS A DISTANT RUMBLE)
NORMAN: Feel that? That, friend, is an earthquake a few thousand miles away - a very severe one ... Liz, turn up the radio.
LIZ: (OFF) I don't want to -
RADIO: (FADING IN) in such a time of world unrest, Mother Nature herself takes a hand
RADIO: and shows her own powers - yes? Oh, no! Ladies and gentlemen, here is another catastrophe. The great Mesabi range in northern Minnesota has been completely obliterated, according to first reports of a devastating earthquake that has laid waste to thousands of square miles of the United States and Canada. The results -
NORMAN: Shut it off.
SOUND: (THE RADIO STOPS)
NORMAN: Well. What do you think?
LIZ: Norman ...
NORMAN: I don't know exactly what to do. If I can just keep these high priests away from
LIZ: Norman, please.
NORMAN: Away from the globe long enough ... maybe I ought to just sit tight until they've all visited me, and I've put them away, and - Liz, stop! - and then I'll be all right. I'd like your opinion. What do you want?
LIZ: Norman ... (SHE'S SCARED STIFF) The - the globe ...
NORMAN: Stop bother -
[He's taking it]
LIZ: He's taking it -
NORMAN: (WHIRLS AROUND) Oh, well, hello, brother priest! Put that down! Put it down, I say! Put it down, or I'll -
LIZ: No, no, Norman! Don't shoot! You might hit -
SOUND: (A PISTOL SHOT)[/X]
NORMAN: [(YELLS)] Stop, I tell you -
LIZ: No! No, Norman!
SOUND: (THERE IS ANOTHER PISTOL SHOT. A PAUSE AND A LONG, SLOW CRASH. AS IT SUBSIDES, WE HEAR THE RADIO CRACKLING QUIETLY, AND AT LAST)
RADIO: (THE ANNOUNCER'S VOICE, VERY FAINTLY, VERY TIRED) .... catastrophe ... [X]catastrophe ...[/X]
SOUND: (AND THE SLOW, SULLEN RUMBLE OF CATASTROPHE DWINDLES TO SILENCE) (HOW LITERARY CAN YOU GET?)
(MUSIC: ... THEME ... FADES FOR)
ANNOUNCER: "Quiet, Please!" for tonight was called "The Man Who Stole A Planet". It was written and directed by Wyllis Cooper; and the man who spoke to you was Ernest Chappell.
CHAPPELL: And Hilde Palmer played Liz. The voice on the radio was that of Phil Tonkem. The music for "Quiet, Please!" is played by Albert Buhrmann. Now for a word about next week's "Quiet, Please!" here is our writer-director Wyllis Cooper.
COOPER: No, nobody has stolen the world, really. Everybody in the studio is, at least at this moment, still alive; and while they were on the air, they represented nobody living or dead - or you wouldn't have lived to hear the story, you see. So for next week, I have written a story called "It Is Later Than You Think", and I hope you'll listen.
CHAPPELL: And until next week at this time I am quietly yours, Ernest Chappell.
(MUSIC: ... THEME FADE FOR
(SIGNOFF AND ALLOCATION)
ANNCR: THIS IS THE MUTUAL BROADCASTING SYSTEM.
Edited by MS on Dec 23, 2007 - 2:27 PM