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The Secret Doctrine


After suffering a devastating rejection at the hands of her favorite actor, an obsessed fan directs her violent rage against her former idol.



Air Dates

  • First Run - June 20, 1974
  • Repeat - September 6, 1974





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24 Responses to Episode 0108

Another weird story from the pen of Elspeth Eric, lol. This story was about a woman who is obsessed with a movie star and when he rejects her, she participates in a dark mass, which kills him (like voodoo). In a way, I think Nalini (the strange, witchy woman) was more to blame because she goaded Louise into doing the ritual in the first place. I get the feeling Louise didn\'t really know what was going on and she was too sick and tired to really think clearly. I think she could be pardoned for reasons of insanity and exhaustion, whereas Nalini knew exactly what she was doing. Nalini was the one who should crawl on her knees to the Vatican, lol.


A crazed fan has to clip the toenails of her love interest to cast a spell on him, so sayth a Basque extra on the movie set.


Was it really voodoo or just a con game. There is more evidence to suggest the latter than the former. So why is the "dark mass" a sin so severe that only the Pope can forgive it? Voodoo, questioned supernatural elements.


I didn't say the "black mass" was voodoo. I said the mass was similar to a voodoo curse. I suppose that to Catholics the dark mass was considered a very grave sin. We have to assume that the central character of this story was Catholic.


Most of the stuff is easy to get, except that darned toad! Here, toady, toady. Winter here in Michigan you know. Now google Basque......

Randy Mc

I think the French would be insulted that the best proposition Peter received in France was a mani/pedi from a 38 year old suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder! Sadly Louise’s fantasies are preferable to reality.


The story begins with a lady making a confession to her priest. The setting is France; An American movie star is in town to make a film and he turns up dead. It takes a turn or two from the confessional booth to the Vatican.

Tony G.

An obsessed fan has a witch develop a love potion so she can make a famous movie star fall in love with her. Tries to terrify and ends up sounding foolish.

Brother Lee

A star struck woman works her way onto the set and into the life of the star with whom she has fallen in love. She seeks the help of another woman who shares her understanding of a kind of witch-craft to force the actor to return her affection. Didn’t find this episode too terribly engaging. I can imagine that if I were a star something like this might be more terrifying, but I’m not, so I didn’t.


Elspeth Eric--a writer who is definitely more in touch with female listeners. Being a man, I was expecting this story--which by the way was very good--to have a larger, more grand ending. Eric ends many of her stories with the challenge of the listener to think, dwell upon the plight of the characters at story's end. Let me be clear though, this was a fantastic story--4 stars. It does make me happy that true repentance does not cost one to traverse oceans, deserts, and mountains to the foot of the pope in Vatican City. Poor Louise, what sore knees...


Another great story from Elspeth Eric. I especially liked how she handled the slow reveal of the 'penance' at the end. 5 stars - this one kept me guessing where it was heading the whole way.

AZ Mountain Geek

This episode combines the often-weak Elspeth Eric and the often-weak Mercedes McCambridge. Despite those hindrances it only completely falls apart in the third act and a laughable "stunning reveal" in the final minute. It was impossible to take the clearly-old McCambridge seriously as the simple French virgin. A shame, too, because there really are some clever bits in here. It's always fun to hear an actor playing someone who *is* a bad actor, and the hammy bits where the movie star gnaws his way through his lines were very amusing. The notion of the neighborhood fallen priest, who lives with a young girl, was also a nice touch. But... too much McCambridge.


I'm with you, jpc. I am not an Elspeth Eric fan, and I can take Mercedes McCambridge only in small doses. She always sounds like a shaky woman on the verge of a complete meltdown, as does Eric when she's at the microphone (at least to me). I also agree about the hamola actor. But it's a ludicrous reveal and story in general.


A silly story. So, if this Nalini is such a good magician (or whatever), why did her "love spell" not work? Yet when she helps the fallen priest with his ritual it works just fine? I guess Elspeth was working on more of a redemption story that we didn't realize until the end. I also wonder why she kissed the toad skin bag after she took it off.


In my opinion, this was one of Mercedes McCambridge's better performances. I kind of like her because she has such a distinctive, unusual voice. In this episode, her acting was better because she didn't overact as much. I agree with Alec that it is strange that Nalini's love spell didn't work, but the death spell did. In fact, maybe she made the love spell fail on purpose so that Louise would get angry and she could use Louise as a tool to get her own revenge. It makes one wonder if Nalini might have had some personal, sinister motive for manipulating Louise in order to murder him herself. Just some food for thought.


McCambridge's diction and distinctive delivery is captivating to me. Yes, it seemed old but then it all makes sense as the story progresses. I grew up around some staunch "old school" Catholics and this wasn't such a leap to follow. Throw in some gypsy influence and, although I found the gypsy portrayal a little heavy-handed as the story progressed - it just colored the story a bit more for my imagination. Thanks. I enjoyed it.


I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. If there’s one word to describe this mystery story, it would be this: SHEESH! Talk about a dark and depressing mystery! At first, the plot sounded interesting. But when you listen to this episode all the way through, Elspeth Eric’s story line turned out to be melancholy, half of the characters weren’t likable, and as for the final scene on what the main character did just to get to her destination…SHEESH! The title of this episode should’ve been called, “Poor Woman Scorned” or “The Mass of Saint-Sécaire” or “The Dark Woods of Gascony” or “A Somber Story.” Sound effects of the tableware clinking, wine pouring, doors, footsteps, bats, toads, owls, bell tolls, birds cawing, and traffic noise at Vatican City were good. Using music tracks from the TWILIGHT ZONE series (Episode #51: The Invaders) was a nice touch, but too many gloomy tunes in every Act. In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall began with the topic of unknown great forces, hinting that this will be a Fantasy-Mystery and not just a Drama-Mystery. In ACT-1, he warns the CBSRMT fans that this a somber story and but also be careful what we wish for. In ACT-2, he quoted the old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” In ACT-3, he mentioned further details of the Mass of Saint-Sécaire (which didn’t explain a lot), but more importantly, was what the main character did: walk 1,000 miles…in 1,000 days…on her knees?!? Once again, I say, “SHEESH!” In his Epilogue, he questions about exploring the unknown, such as what would he do for a job if CBSRMT is over (and that was unrelated to the type of story we just heard). Now onto our cast: Mercedes McCambridge (as Louise), Mildred Clinton (as Noemie), William Johnstone (as Father Giles), Robert Dryden (as Gabe Howser and the Vatican Student), and Nick Pryor (as Peter Sorel and the Priest). Only the talented Mercedes McCambridge, the cunning William Johnstone, and the unforgettable Robert Dryden were the best. Nick Pryor sounded like he was overplaying the role dramatically, even when he was saying his lines in the movie role scene in ACT-1, he sounded a lot like CBSRMT actor Gordon Heath. As for Mildred Clinton, not her best role. It should’ve gone to CBSRMT actress Evie Juster because she knew how to play “wicked” roles. It’s an OK mystery, but worth checking out if you’re a fan of Mercedes McCambridge’s work. SPECIAL BONUS: This episode has commercials of Auto-House of Mercedes-Benz, Sine Off Sinus tablets, Frank Lieber for True Value Hardware, Buick Apollo, The Spaghetti Store, Goldilocks & sugar free Diet 7Up, Waterbed Systems International, Jerry Coffer for Kellogg’s Special K cereal, Anheuser Busch Budweiser, and Northpark National Bank in Dallas. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0]


An episode aimed at devout Catholics. A 38-year-old woman (who sounds 30 years older) goes to confession. She confides that for 20 years she was in love with a famous actor. She gets to meet him by washing his feet and clipping his toenails. (Devout listeners would recognize the biblical references.) Actor doesn't fall in love with her. Rejected she turns to her gypsy friend who gives her a witch's love potion. Doesn't work. Then try some stronger stuff. The Mass of "Song Hysteria'?? This is a mass that is said backwards, word for word. Instead of wine, the priest drinks water in which an unbaptized dead baby is thrown. (Seems not that hard to obtain for gypsies.) The ritual is concluded when the priest makes the sign of the cross, not with his right hand in the air, but with his left foot in the dirt. (Oh please, really!) Not surprisingly, this doesn't bring her the actor's love, but kills the actor. This sin can't be absolved by the Bishop, but the woman has to go to the Pope himself. Being a humble Catholic, she crawls on her knees 1,000 miles to the Vatican Gates. Here the story ends with angelic music and church bells ringing, which probably will make the Catholic listeners want to forgive her. For me I just roll my eyes! If this had been my first Mystery Theater episode I had listened to, I would never listen to another Mystery Theater again! Not into high handed religious in your face preaching.


I had to listen closely and do a little research to find it: the Mass of Saint-Sécaire


Although this isn’t as bad as I’ve come to expect from the wackadoo Elspeth Eric, it isn’t that good, either. I thought the penance was creative but whole the tale was too farfetched. Sure, let’s carry a bag made of toadskin , fill it with toenails, and wear it ‘round the neck. Eww.


When American film star Peter Sorel arrives in a small Gascony town to make a movie, a peasant woman, Louise, who has seen most of his past hits, provides him with French food and wine. She wants him to fall in love with her and take her to the United States. If she doesn’t, she and a friend, Noemie, who possesses magical powers, plan a long unused Mass of Saint-Sécaire — a mass of revenge.


One of the better episodes I thought. Especially with Mercedes McCambridge and Bill Johnstone, the shadow.


Love obsession ending in tragedy. A sad tell of unrequited love, a woman loves a man obsessively, so much so she goes against her religious beliefs and turns to pagan hopes. Not a wise move to fall into temptation of the world. I liked it since it as student from the RMT episodes i have heard so far, but not one of the best.


I listened to this when it originally aired. Of all the episodes of CBSRMT, this has the image that captured, horrified and kept me through my entire life: the protagonist (if you can call her that) crawling on her knees in hope of redemption


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