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Three Sheets To The Wind - John Wayne Radio Show

Reference for this page is the book On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio By John Dunning (1998).


Helga Moray as Joan Lockwood of British Intelligence
John Wayne as Dan O'Brien
Sharon Douglas and Lee Bonnell in continuing supporting roles.

Announcer: Ken Carpenter

Creator-Director-Narrator: Tay Garnett

Broadcast: February 15 - July 5, 1942 on NBC.

Movie director Tay Garnett got the idea for THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND in 1933, while in Greenland filming SOS ICEBERG. Garnett was known for his epics of the sea, and in 1935 his cruise on the yawl ATHENE deepened the idea and gave it color. By 1942, he had a film script of sorts (by screenwriter Ken Englund): this he sold to NBC on the premise that radio could preview the film (which was never actually shot).

Garnett also directed John Wayne in the film Seven Sinners (1940).

The story followed the luxury liner EMPRESS as it sailed from Southampton, England, on a 180-day journey, with Alexandria, Egypt, the first port of call. The scene was set two years back in time, the cruise beginning August 25, 1939, in the final days of peace. A listen to the only known scrap (half a show at this writing) reveals a plot dripping with melodrama, seven people having been strangled in London in the seven days that the EMPRESS has been in port. The murders seem linked to a sultan's black diamond, its secrets wrapped in mysticism.

Agent Joan Lockwood (played by Helga Moray, a British actress who was then Garnett's wife) is determined to crack the case. Also on the case is Dan O'Brien (John Wayne), an american posing as a drunk--thus the double edged title. John Wayne, who did little radio, was then just beginning his rise to fabulous screen success. But it can be safely said that playing a lush was not his forte.

Your comments or suggestions are welcome and encouraged.

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