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The Real Printer's Devil


A young couple are delighted to find an inexpensive apartment in Central Park West. Little do they know that their new home is already occupied by an invisible guest.



Air Dates

  • First Run - July 17, 1974
  • Repeat - January 4, 1976





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55 Responses to Episode 0119

WOW! Great site! I listened to this episode and it's one of the better ones. I like the twist at the end, even though you can see it coming from a mile away. Still lots of fun! Until next time, pleasant dreams?


This was a GREAT episode. Just love Bryna Raeburn!

Trina J

WOW! Great site! I listened to this episode about a week ago (working my way through all of them), and it's one of the better ones. I like the twist at the end, even though you can see it coming from a mile away. Still lots of fun! Until next time, pleasant dreams?


MARK TWAIN SERIES: CBS Radio Mystery Theater produced a total of eleven adaptations from Mark Twain's works for the show; nine were written by Sam Dann with Ian Martin writing only two. [0119] The Real Printer's Devil [0408] Tom Sawyer, Detective [0409] Is He Living or Is He Dead? [0410] The Belated Russian Passport [0411] A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court [0412] The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg [0413] The Stolen White Elephant [0414] The Mysterious Stranger [0937] The Dead House [0984] A Curious Experience [1002] The Goddess Caper** The show always tried to kick off each new year of their Anniversary (in early January) with a weeklong series written by the same author, and so Sam Dann wrote episodes 408 through 414 to launch the start of their third season. **1002 was based on “The Legend of the Capitoline Venus”

Mark Main

Maybe I'm too critical as a Christian but the concept of someone being damned for not being superstitious enough doesn't make much sense to me. This is possibly my least favorite of the first 119 stories so far.


This was a weird one. Not sure where Roger got that interpretation . . . So many of these CBSRMT's have cats in them but this one stands out for me in that it uses a different cat sound effect for Smokey than the sounds in the other cat episodes. What a tease with that closet, eh? LOL. The ending fell a bit flat for me, but hey I was entertained.


I like the description in the plot. Himan Brown lived in an apartment in the same location all his life.


The lowdown: A young married couple (wife is 5 months pregnant) are looking for an affordable apartment. They find an add for an apartment on the 13th floor of a building in the area they want to live in. The apartment is very affordable, and way nicer than they expected. The landlord is an old man who has an extrememly diabolical mind. But is this really an apartment? How were they to know that the deceptively nice old man was really the epitomy of evil? And what about the add for it in the paper?...Was that just an illusion? Well, I can't spoil it so that's all I'm going to say about the story. This episode had its moments, but it wasn't quite as scary as I expected it to be. I think it could be scarier, if they'd use scary music more often than just a few short moments in the play.

Romy Jones

A couple looking for a bargain on an apartment seem to find the place of their dreams. When they arrive to look at the apartment it appears they are the only ones who saw the ad in the paper. The location and the rent are perfect, even if the landlord is a little weird (he keeps a locked closet full of bizzare occult items in the apartment). Unfortunately, anything that looks too good to be true always is. This is another frightening episode. If you want a real scare, listen to this one in the dark...alone. Genre: Horror

R. R. Pondexter

A young couple think they've stumbled onto a bargain in a cheap, Central Park West apartment. Apartment 13 is haunted. Thrilling episode despite the somewhat hokey beginning. Recommended.

Maricar Lobregat

Actually, I think the Devil is getting lazy with his deals. I would think "...but I get your soul" ought to have appeared somewhere in the lease. Daniel Webster could have won this case easy.


A couple respond quickly to an ad in the paper for an apartment that seems too good to be true. They are certain there will be crowds of people wanting it because of the prime location and inexpensive rent. When they go to see it, the English gentleman that answers the door is quite taken with them and the fact that they are expecting a baby only serves to delight him more. He offers them the finely appointed apartment immediately. The couple is overjoyed and move in at once in disbelief over their good fortune. But where were the crowds of other prospective renters? And why is it that the ad only appeared in their copy of the newspaper?


The ad only appears in the paper of the victims that the devil wants, so there wouldn't be a lot of people wanting to rent the apartment. I agree with some of the commentators here that he couldn't get their souls that easily. Neither one of them sold their soul to sign a lease, so it doesn't make sense that he could catch their immortal souls. The script should have included a few short lines in act one where Joel says, "You know, I'd sell my soul to get a good deal on an apartment!" His wife says, "Yes, so would I!" Then the ad appears magically in their paper, but they don't connect the dots. THAT would have made sense because usually in devil lore, even if one casually says they'd sell their soul, they have unwittingly made a deal. At the end, he could have reminded them of their casual comment that sealed the deal.


A brief synopis: A couple looking for a bargain on an apartment seem to find the place of their dreams. When they arrive to look at the apartment it appears they are the only ones who saw the ad in the paper. The location and the rent are perfect, even if the landlord is a little weird (he keeps a locked closet full of bizzare occult items in the apartment). Unfortunately, anything that looks too good to be true always is. This is a frightening episode. If you want a real scare, listen to this one in the dark...alone.

Lyndon B.

Wow. This program freaked me out. I'll be honest in that I simply wouldn't have been able to handle this one as a kid and it's probably the creepiest program I've heard to date. First, I have to admit that I find cats to be one of the scariest things on the planet. I had a bad experience as a kid so I find them to be unpredictable and dangerous. The cat in this program sent shivers up my spine and it exploited almost every fear I have. Second, (plot spoiler coming) the play was crafted with three principle characters and one seemingly ancillary character, the aunt, whom I thought would be our last minute saviour. Instead, our protagonists actually lost their battle with the devil (the dramatic music during this scene was fitting of the drama that unfolded)! Whoa - what a shocker!!! One point of interest I noted: Our author, Ian Martin, chose to use the opening segment of the program as a "working" lead-in to this drama. In general, the opening segment is drawn from the body of the program so we know it will be repeated somewhere in the play. However, this program's opening segment was truly a unique part of the play.


It's funny...did they ever mention anything about printing in the play? (I had a printer back in the 90s who had an assistant I joked in calling "his printer's devil". He told me how the term originated, and I thought it was because the young kids who helped the printers way back in the early days of the profession would get black ink all over themselves, and since the color black is associated with satanic things...) I agree...I would have been very shaken by this one as a child. I thought one of the most compelling and powerful scenes in the play is when the woman opens the closet door. We've got a hint as to what's behind it, but the music bed underneath (again, way to go, RMT folks) plus her shaken voice as she delivers a stream of adjectives without ever saying what they describe. Priceless. I like Ian Martin's acting and his plays.


Perhaps you should listen to the entire episode all the way to the ending...


First off, I just love the fact that the opening monologue by EG Marshall was part of the story. Usually, his comments are disconnected from the show, so to hear this format really caught my attention. It was enough to make me stop nailing the shingles on my roof and wear a skewed face! Talk about a fun, chilling journey. I kind of had that "feeling" of knowing what was going to happen, but I admit, I was a bit surprised that there was no last-minute heroics to save this couple. And what a way to go... an elevator shaft! This tale led me into the thoughts of Rosemary's Baby and even a bit of the Amityville Horror. All the signs were there for the couple to be aware of. Even a person who puts no stock in superstition would have to draw a red flag on the circumstances in this situation. Too true to be good? Nice! Then there is the cat. The RMT has a way of transmogrifying cats into demonic devices. Enough so, that beyond my natural dislike for cats (due to lifelong allergies of them), I now have a new respect for them... in fact, I pretty much steer clear of them altogether! Though this show was fairly predictable, it's traditional ghost story quality never waivered and held me to the end. Our ghost was charming and a totally convincing devil, indeed. The title was cute, as the etymology of a "printer's devil" comes from when a printer's apprentice would become black with ink - suggesting, of course, witchcraft or black magic. The title was also a title used in an episode of the Twilight Zone, called Printer's Devil, in which Burgess Meredith plays the Devil. Very appropriate! I gave the show a solid 4.5 rating. The fairly predictable nature of the tale kept it from being higher, but the production quality, acting, and script were of expected standard, if not above. Finally, one question that must be asked: What the heck do you think was in that closet, anyway?? :twisted: Great choice! Thanks and best wishes!

John Mina

The devil character kind of tells them what is in the closet when he mentions how he once put horrific things around to scare off a priest, but it turned out the priest loved it. He mentioned torture instruments, among other grizzly things and says this stuff was put away in the closet, etc. So he gives you an idea what's in there.


I liked this one too. I wouldn't have been able to sleep for a month if I'd heard it as a kid--which, actually, I may have. I can't really add anything to what everyone's already said 'cept that I love cats, and dogs (And most other warm blooded animals. No reptiles, thanks.) It kinda bums me out that they always use a cat as a symbol of evil on these shows. How 'bout a hellhound for a change? Or a meeeeaaan parakeet!

Dennis G.

BTW, on second listen, a couple of notes: - Remember "The fall of Gentryville"? Remember how the devil (who is a REALLY self-centered, prideful, hideous creature) kept making sure "Ginny" in that show knew how worldly he was by saying "Don't say 'goodbye'. Say 'au revoir', or 'ciao', or 'auf widersehen'", etc.?) I kept remembering that when Satan was fumbling about trying to make sure the couple knew how worldly he was when saying British terms and then correcting them with American terminology, i.e. "Lift, oh, er, 'elevator'." in this show. The faces of Satan were fascinating in the RMT, and none of them were good. (i.e. the worldly womanizer who could not stand to have his advances denied in "The fall of Gentryville"; Ian Martin's guttural, groaning, cackling, thing who invades a woman in "Speak of the devil"; Norman Rose's schemer who could set a man up to make millions but always had to bum some coins to pay for a cup of coffee in "Transmutations, Inc."; Robert Dryden's mysterious, cellar-dwelling creature in "Crack in the wall"; the fork-tailed thing which left the nostrils of a drunkard to enter those of a man who had suffered a fatal skull injury in "Possessed by the devil"; etc.) - I don't know whether this would be perceived as an insult or a non-insult today, or even if it could be said in a show in this politically correct day and age, but...I'd forgotten about this dialogue between Hecht and Rowland around the 4:27 mark (and my apologies in advance to anyone out there who's offended, because that's not my intent): HECHT: "Here it is...H.S.M. Apollion(sic?). That's our fairy godfather". ROWLAND: "Don't call him that." HECHT: "I don't care how gay he is...the apartment's all I care about." No, I just realized who they're talking about (and remember his collection of torture items in the metaphor intended, or maybe there was!)...I'm almost assured that there's NO WAY this dialogue would make it on a CBS program today.

J. Kydd

I can only imagine it may not have been intended as it seems. The word "gay" used to have another meaning once, long before it became the word that defines the gender preferenced. Of course, seeing the "fairy godfather" might make it suspect, nonetheless. I just can't allow myself to believe that an intellectual writer for the RMT would be so thoughtless and free with a word that was not in the mainstream and rarely used in corporate media, such as CBS. I could be wrong, too!

Jercs Soltes

I would have agreed were it not for the "fairy godfather" context (and remember that Martin's character, before he revealed himself :evil: , was a single, somewhat fey-sounding man). This also was before political correctness really took hold (though maybe it already had in New York City) but in a way maybe it could have been included to make us less sympathetic to Hecht's character (though not Rowland's) and to show him to not be as innocent, or rather, "good", as he first appeared.


I tend to agree with you. When I first listened to the show, I heard the comment and paused... I rewound my iPod a few notches and listened to it again. Sure enough, there it was. I didn't think much of it until now, and of course, it certainly makes sense. I guess I just don't want to believe that an RMT writer would use such a cold device. But as you said, there was no such thing as PC back then. Oh how times have changed!


Now this was a good episode! The only complaint is that the ghosts were pretty light in the storyline. This is one where the good people don't win out in the end. CREEPY! For the supernatural/creepy side of things, this one is great. What more is there to say other than, this one is one of the top episodes!

Noel L.

Not the brightest at navigation, I didn't find a newer Show Of The Week posted, so I thought it would be cool to go to the older ones. I listened to this one over the weekend, the 30th anniversary of its initial broadcast. This was the kind of stuff that made us turn the lights on and check under the bed for monsters. No surprise twists, we know right off the bat that His Satanic Majesty is going to torment this nice young couple; we just don't know if they'll be the lucky ones that get away. Nice little horror tale with chilling sound effects and a wicked, shiver-inspiring ending. I give it a 3.5, though I don't know if my rating fits the ballot, so I voted for Bucahanan and left my chad hanging in between the 3 and 4. Now I'm going to read what you other listeners wrote, and then I will post on "The Chinaman Button," one of my all-time favorite episodes.


Great catch on that "gay" comment. When I heard it I hadn't realized that that it was preceded by "fairy godfather." Very clever, though much more subtle than the phallic images in Walt Disney movie posters. I disagree with the thought a line like that would never be written or pass through censors in today's world... the airwaves are full of ethnic and sexual punch lines. The word "gay" was coming in vogue back then (1974), but it was not as universally understood as it is today. I would venture to say that the vast majority of people 35+ (and "straight') would have missed that line's punch altogether, though I'm sure in NYC it was understood and appreciated. And I don't believe it was written to make us dislike the character, otherwise he'd have been far more mean-spirited and said "fag" or something more derogatory. I think it was more of an inside joke, a reference that only "hip" people would get and the rest would miss, like something in "The Simpsons." I agree that in those days, few who might have been offended by the remark would make a stink about it; on the other hand, it is exactly the kind of pun my gay friends would have been the the first to make. (Have you seen the new guy on Comedy Central? His name slips the memory, but there are few analogies, cliches and innuendos of gay culture left unspoken.) Sort of like the rule that only Richard Pyor, Eddie Murphy or LL Cool J can say the "N" word. It's not necessarily the word, but the intent, and I think Ian was just being clever and hip. Now, the "devices" in the closet? Who knows?


"The Printer's Devil" was a great listen. It is distinct to the other Mystery Theater's in the sense that ended with the demise of the two innocent love birds midway through the 3rd act. It then followed the villain as he began his manipulation on a new couple--the Smithers. Casting for this episode was excellent. Jane was played by Jada Rowland who actually sounded youthful in this episode. It was great, however not perfect. Alas, 4 stars.


Fun drama, and RMT's cat sounds are getting a little better (not NEARLY as annoying as earlier!). And the ending actually surprised me. [Spoiler alert:] Usually the sympathetic characters survive, and are somehow rescued. I expected the aunt to be someone who uncovered the truth and saved them. Nothing of the sort!


Great episode, but on a superficial level, I felt bad for the young couple. Unlike the majority of RMT episodes, the two really didn't have it coming.


Like many of the commenters here, the fact that the couple was hopelessly doomed and damned from the start made this rather flat. Apart from "be careful what you wish for" and "beware anything too good to be true," there's just not much of a takeaway. Good performances and certainly a terrifyingly hopeless concept, though. (And yes, CBSRMT and their obnoxious cat noises. Sigh.)


I liked that the cat sounds weren't too overt in this one as they have been in previous ones. I also didn't like the "damned for your ignorance/innocence" either, but perhaps that's just my bias. I guess I prefer a story in which there is a way out, whether or not the protagonist(s) can make it there. I thought it strange to leave off with HSM renting to another couple (and why always couples?) when it was inferred that he would continue - probably a timing issue and had to be put in. An okay episode but not the best.


"Too good to be true, too true to be good"... the writers were so genius.


A fun listen. Had me wondering what was meant when the devil said some people broke through the doors of other apartments and found nothing but space beyond them. Space as in empty air or space as Interesting reference to "Billy Sunday." I didn't think anyone from this time period would get that reference. Seems this way of getting "souls" would be a huge waste of time considering the time it takes to snare and trap anyone. Joel and Jane's "commute" actually sounded pretty good. Forty-five minutes to get to work using public transportation!? I wish my commute were that short! Referring to a cat's litter box as a "litter pen" (or "litter pan") was odd, as well as Joel's strange terminology. "Rustle the bustle"? Who the heck uses that freakishly outdated term? But then, this was a 70s radio show. Found it odd that Joel or Jane didn't follow up Apollyon's cryptic reference to HSM in his name with the natural question as to what it means. I mean, anyone claiming that the HSM in his name means something different would cause me to instantly pay ask what I means. But they left it hanging without comment. One of their other banter seems really weird. Real people actually talked in such a nauseatingly cloying manner?


'HSM' is short for 'His Satanic Majesty'. The listeners weren't supposed to know that at first, but later it was talked about.


This tale, in my opinion, is a bit ghoulish and dark.... A case of a young couple stumbling upon an ad in the paper leading them toward an apartment rental in the city. What did HS Empolean have in the spare room that caused the couple's blood to run cold? On this night I had to have an extra glass of port to get to sleep!!! My choppers were rattling!!!


The first time I listened to this episode I was terribly upset at how unfair it seemed that Apollyon could win. The second time, I listened for the justification that allowed him to confiscate their souls. Still not finding one, I found this to be a huge gap in the logic of this episode. I don’t know why our culture makes us think that the Devil would follow a legal contract but that’s what I was looking for. Otherwise, wouldn’t he just take everybody because he could? This idea that the Devil didn’t follow the “rules” made this episode less terrifying the second time because I felt that God would be far more merciful and rescind the deal.


Jane and Joel Trent answer an ad in the paper for an inexpensive apartment that they decide will be just perfect for them and their expected child. Not until after they sign the lease and move in do they realize there is something devilishly eerie about the apartment on the 13th floor and its previous tenant, and especially about the cat with supernatural powers that comes with the apartment. They wonder if their apartment is too good to be true or whether it’s too true to be good.


A very very creepy episode! You won't sleep after you hear the ending!


A sad ending for two innocent young people.


Great episode!

Tom Mcgrattan

Ian Martin was great in this.


I don't quite hate this episode, but only because it is listenable up to the awful ending, which ruins the whole story, imo. Not only does it have an unhappy ending, which the main characters didn't deserve, but I hate stories where a cat turns out to be evil, or turns into a demon. The whole thing was really stupid. Someone mentioned Mark Twain above. I hope this story wasn't an adaptation of his writing. He was a cat lover, and he was also a skilled writer, so I would have expected much better from him. At least the cat sound effects were better than those horrible human attempts to "meow" like a cat! I think they were using a real cat sound effect by this time, but they overused it, imo. It really wasn't necessary to hear the cat so often. Also you could tell it was the same recording over and over, so it gets annoying!


They never did say what was in the closet, which is also annoying, lol! I picture torture instruments and a severed head, lol! :D


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. There are a couple of reasons why this is one “Hell” of a terrific episode. FIRST: Ian Martin’s storyline was wickedly entertaining and the final scene was a tad similar to the final scene of #0367-THE SUMMER PEOPLE. Not the exact same ending of their demise, but the same conclusion where it’s out with the old, in with the new. This Fantasy-Mystery would’ve been suitable for THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE NIGHT GALLERY. Catchy title. Other titles could work such as “Buyer’s Remorse” or “A Damned Deal” or simply “Apartment 13-D.” And the SECOND reason, the Cast: Jada Rowland (as Jane Trent and Violet Smithers), Paul Hecht (as Joel Trent and George Smithers), Ian Martin (as H.S.M. Apollyon and Bill Joseph), and Bryna Raeburn (as Aunt Gertrude Conway). Bryna Raeburn was good in her supporting role. Ian Martin’s acting was as spellbinding as his writing for this. Clever idea on his character’s H.S.M. name “His Satanic Majesty.” I was surprised that Paul Hecht said the words “Fairy Godfather” and “Gay” between the 04:22-04:25 mark. Didn’t know radio shows were allowed to say those words in the 1970’s. And Jada Rowland’s my favorite and I enjoyed her performance in this. As much as I enjoyed this mystery tale, there are 2 reasons why I didn’t rate this 5 stars for EXCELLENT. FIRST: The Music. They had alarming tunes to wake radio listeners up, but no frightening tracks for this “devilish” story. They needed the horror music tracks from #0263-TILL DEATH DO US JOIN and #1245-THE JUDGE’S HOUSE and every CBSRMT fan would’ve had goosebumps. The sound effects of busy traffic noise, door buzzer, footsteps, elevators gate, tea cups clinking, cab horn honk, newspaper pages, doorbell ring, keys, Cat sounds, gun shot, door creaking, door knob, chains rattling, telephone, and explosion poofs were supportive, by the way. And the SECOND reason, the Host’s Prologue stating that this is a Ghost Story, but it isn’t quite correct. Many ghost stories are about dead spirits haunting locations, cautionary signs/messages to the living, the change of the weather, material objects that move on their own, petrifying evidence of a dark past, etc. But this particular episode involves of a person from the Bible verse of Revelation 9:11. In ACT-1, the protagonists think their opportunity is a promise of Heaven, but the antagonist thinks opposite. In ACT-2, the minor character is a pragmatist and we learn what Apollyon is a synonym for. In ACT-3, definition of Tragedy, but also finish the Climax off with a quote by English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “The devil’s most devilish when respectable.” In his Epilogue, finish the Resolution off with the Latin phrase: “Caveat emptor” (“Let the buyer beware”). He made good contributions in his narrations, all except that 1 error in his Prologue. All in all, it’s still a fascinating episode and everyone should check it out. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)


This was an entertaining tale even though it stretched the devil gets your soul, because no deal was made and the devil can't just take your soul, unless you are evil or trade it. Even then if your saved you can't be unsaved. But overall it was a good story but sad because the couple died. E.G. Marshall had some good comments as always and the sound effects were good. I do wish they would leave in the commercials and news.


Be afraid, be very afraid! This one is truly frightening if you're one that is prone to nightmares this is a story that you really don't want to listen to alone in the dark.


This one is disturbing, yet it’s one of my favorites. I don’t think that I’m giving away the ending, since most, if not all of us have listened to this one many times. The fact that the very pregnant protagonist is actually killed doesn’t happen often. I recall one other episode where this occurred, in Speak of the Devil.


The Real Printer's Devil scares the crap out of me to this day! Even the poor unborn child didn't survive!


Driving home with my wife from a weekend out of town and listening to “The Real Printer’s Devil” that scared me when I first listened to it as a boy way back in the mid 70s


This one is a real dark episode of CBSRMT. Disturbing that not only the husband dies, but also his pregnant wife. Still one of my favorites tho!


If the Wizard of Oz were evil, he would be Mr. Apollyon. Raconteur, carnival barker, glad-handing con man, glib and unctuous. "Pay no attention to that cat in front of the locked closet!"

Dr. D.

313-1313 was not necessarily an impossible phone number in 1974. In 1973, the North American Numbering Plan Administration eliminated a restriction on the middle digit of the central office code (prefix) that had forbidden 0 and 1 in that position. The new prefixes began to be introduced in New York City in about 1974; however, it's not known whether 313 was among those new prefixes when this episode was written and produced, and we'll have to take Aunt Gertrude's word that the phone company told her it didn't (yet) exist. As to the nonexistence of the 13th floor, many buildings (including the Empire State) do have them, but for a related concept, see Ogden Nash's poem "A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor," about a hotel whose floor numbers skip from 12 to 14 except once a year, on Walpurgis Night, when the 13th floor appears and serves as the venue where murderers are condemned to dance for eternity with the corpses of their victims.

Dave A.

Great story. Good sound quality.

Gemini lady Jackson

The best episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater

Harper Stacey

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