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The Imp in the Bottle


A man buys an amulet that can make his wishes come true. But in order to salvage his soul, he must dispose of it before he dies by selling it for a lesser price than he had bought it for.



Air Dates

  • First Run - September 3, 1974
  • Repeat - October 30, 1974





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45 Responses to Episode 0143

Absolutely my favorite of all time! I can still remember it like yesterday.

Steve Marshall

Excellent adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Bottle Imp," with a young man who's never much cared about money inheriting the cursed bottle, only to learn that others take its wealth-granting magic far more seriously. The performances might not be especially strong, but story and pacing are the real highlights in this one.

Matt Sandwich

Terrific episode. I could hardly take my ears off it!


Well put!

Professor Richard Pierson

A man acquires a talisman that can grant him wishes. To save his soul, however, he must be rid of it before he dies and he must sell it for less than he paid for it.

M. Tudnilla

The original story I had largely forgotten... There's a reason for that. "The Bottle Imp" by R.L. Stevenson is one of those "south seas stories" he wrote while fascinated with all things Polynesian and when I read it, I was not... This adaptation sets the story in a more familiar framework as a young man receives the bottle and it's story from his dying uncle. The plot unfolds nicely and the central concept, that the bottle must be sold for less than it was bought, with the clever twist involving foreign currencies, is preserved. A very satisfying entry although the voice of the imp is not good....

Gayle Tuczon

I loved this episode. The 'secret' or 'mystery' to this episode was out of the bottle, so to speak, very early in the episode. What was enjoyable was watching the moral nature of the characters emerge and become better defined. A young man purchases, for a ridiculously small sum, an imp in a bottle that will grant virtually any financial wish made by the owner of the bottle. The only condition is that the owner must sell it for less than it was purchased for before death, or have his soul condemned to an eternity of damnation. The protagonist has his moral fortitude tested and emerges with it intact. A fun example of a story where the 'good guy' gets to have his cake and eat it too.

Jessica Kramer

With Joan Lorring.


This is without a doubt one of my favorite episodes. Quirky, yes, but a fantastic adaptation. I especially like the fact that Barry took on a humble occupation which eventually set the soul of his adulterous wife free. Great stuff. 5 stars.

Davy Joe

Well friends, this episode has to go down as one of the weirdest ones I have ever listened to. I loved the image of the little bug in the jar. The first time I heard the imp scream I thought, "Well, here's one episode I won't listen to when I'm going to sleep at night!" I enjoyed the plot and the whole notion of how one passed the imp on to someone else.


I love this episode!! I just listened to this one last week and enjoyed it. Lots of coins in the wolrd worth less than a cent. Interesting episode with great voice acting. A great choice...thanks Miles and Fizz for making it possible.


GREAT choice for an encore! - The music in this is classic 1974 RMT at its best...a lot of it was used in another Ian Martin '74 script, "The hand", an RMT timeless classic. - A few amusing lines from this one: *"Abracadabra, right on the bed, 250,000 in fifties and hundreds like...POW!" *"I'll just take my shirt off and let the sun shine on my 'manly chest'." * (Prior to the "Abracadabra" line) "I should pay a visit to my local psychiatrist but just in case black magic hasn't gone out of style..." - William Redfield was an RMT actor we lost early to leukemia...seemingly WAY too early, even before the RMT stopped production. This is one of my all-time favorite performances of his. - I wonder what it would have been like had Martin's voice as the "imp" been different. Sounds like a big menacing "genie" type, but his voice for the character was, well, a bit wimpy. Or maybe it was that way to suggest that even with his power he was completely under the un-loving control of another being, with no hope whatsoever... - Interesting how ANYTHING connected with magic in the RMT was almost always ultimately linked with Satan. Witches, incantations, imps in bottles...everything!

R. Allen

Yes indeed. Another fun show! There is a better encode out there . . . I downloaded it several years ago. This one fades almost to silence at least 3 different times. The chugging-beer commercial sounds strange to us today as well. I liked the twists on the old moral about avarice. Love of money . . . is a bad thing, don'cha know. There's the ever present connection to satan. But in this tale, any malevolent spirit from world mythology would fit the bill. Just so long as it's evil and has supernatural abilities. And there's a couple hundred long-dead gods who could play that role. So . . . old and rare coins that are worth less than a penny. But if they're old and rare . . . aren't they worth more than a penny, no matter what the face-value of the coin is? Suppose the stock market took a dive and the exchange rate flucuated madly about the time the bottle was being sold to another party? Would it be necessary to be reading the tickertape continually in order to ensure the value of the coin(s) being exchanged? I ask you . . . I do like E.G.'s final little kicker . . . and it does fit the story . . . that the smaller the amount paid for the bottle, the quicker that person's life came to an end. Nice little tidbit.


Could be...but then there was the reference by Redfield's character when he asked Felicia to marry him: "Let me ask you in front of God and everyone else..." Pretty much every other major religion apart from Christianity, Judaism and Islam has plural "gods" (or none at all), so it seemed to me this was another in a line of RMTs with this reference. Flawed as a few points of the theology were, this is still a fun play.

Ruth Claire A.

great feedback comments on this one! i enjoyed reading your thoughts, so thanks for that! i really enjoyed this one. what i found comical was when he tells the girl about his bottle and the imp and the money and he wants to earn his own money, and she immediately says, "sell the bottle to me!" it's one of those cases where despite all the evidence that there is a ghost in the cupcakes, there's always one chump who laughs and takes a bite anyway. in this case, the girl wants the bottle, despite his warnings. just kind of funny to me. a great show. again, really enjoyed it! thanks Miles!

John Mina

Loved the show. Was the foreign love interest patterned on Aristotle Onassis (foreign playboy, shipping magnate)? This would have been about the right time frame, would it not? And speaking of shipping - that had to be the worst recruiting ad for the U.S. Navy that I ever heard. No wonder enlistment was down in '74 . . .


One last thing about this episode. Ian Martin has written episodes dealing with (in a supernatural way) the subject of addiction before, i.e. the VERY fine "Time and again". Gambling's an addiction, as the RMT stated many times before, and it reared its ugly head here in this episode. However, there's also a parallel Martin seemed to draw in this episode with the deceased uncle at the beginning, who may not have been a gambler. Ever seen studies on those who won big money in the lottery, how they still have problems even after their "jackpot"? I don't know how to describe the parallel, but it was interesting that the uncle, even though he was able to alway come up with enormous amounts of cash (and we know how) was essentially broke at the end of his life. I guess this was Martin's way of communicating that easy money doesn't guarantee being rich.


I give this on a five, it was well acted and the story was one of the better ones.... It had a happy ending in a weird radio play world where usually the main character gets screwed. The mental imagery here was one of a kind, the bottle, the burn victim, the dictator..etc... there was a lot of imagery in this one. This has to be in my top 100 shows of all time. 

G. L. Lace

This is one of my favourite episodes and is the genre of story I enjoy the most - the supernatural. In amongst the crime dramas and murder mysteries, there are a few real gems like this one that present an interesting idea and explore the consequences. I thought the juxtaposition of the tremendous potential of the imp with the well defined morals of the owner made for an interesting plot.


This was a well-made show. I probably didn't get the full effect because I've read some old horror stories with the theme of the talisman that must always be sold for less than it cost to purchase. Nonetheless the first shriek caught me off guard and I enjoyed listening to the show. When the bottle got lost in the ocean I was kind of wondering where that would go, would he feel he was doomed and go crazy or something. When it reappeared around his neck I was surprised and I thought that was a neat twist. I wonder what kind of bug was in that jar ...?!

M. Lobrigo

This was a fun afternoon listening to this. - One of my favorite performances by William Redfield. - Ian Martin had another excellent play (three in a row now on the OTR) - I know some of you have reviewed the RMT episode entitled "The Devil's Boutique". Martin's accented voice as the "imp" sounds almost identical to his performance as the mysterious shopkeeper "Arch" (Satan) in the "boutique" episode. - I love the music bed at the 8:12 mark and later. This same bed's been used elsewhere, most memorably in the RMT episode entitled "The Hand". - Martin's script threw out some zingers. Here's one, spoken by Redfield's character to his lady friend: "I just seem to have pushed the important button that turns you on", but; - My favorite of the episode, spoken as an on-the-spot incantation by Redfield: "Abra cadabra, right on the bed, $250,000 in hundreds and fifties like...POW!" Great choice.

P. Garman

Another one to put on my favorites list! I loved the whole concept. It was the kind of show that had me thinking about it days after I first heard it. The twists in the plot were great. When the bottled was dropped overboard I thought for sure that the main character was going to live out the rest of his life with the knowledge that he wouldn't be able to sell the bottle but then it reappears. Also, toward the end I guessed that the wife would buy the bottle for a penny but for some reason am so narrow-minded that we were talking U.S. currency. Based on this bad assumption, I thought there was nothing less she could sell it for. I was a little disappointed by this final twist as I thought she didn't get what was coming to her but like other's have mentioned it was refreshing to have an episode where things turn out on a positive note. Also... did anyone catch the Budweiser commercial at the 2:20 mark? The spokesman basically said that Budweiser should not be "sipped" but was meant to be guzzled! Can you see a commercial like that airing today? Awareness of alcohol and alcoholism have really changed in the past thirty years.

Wayne C.

Great episode. I listened to this one recently and noted several items i particularly liked. First, the Imp's voice was campy enough to be perfect! Second, the plot was intriguing and I particularly liked that the riches gained by using the Imp were temporary.

Mark Henry J.

You mentioned the Budweiser commercial as if to say guzzling beer is a BAD thing! As for the show, I have to agree that I was hoping the ex-wife would regret her greed. Happy endings are great, at times, but I could have accepted a zinger for this one.


This episode was well written and well acted. Strong characters are essential for a good story, and each character was deep and complex. I, too, loved some of the dialogue. Some of it was a bit risque for CBSRMT, but still rated G. This was a strong morality tale, something that CBSRMT almost always did well. EG Marshall sums up our moral so well in the end. Excellent selection! Thank you. I don't much care for sipping beer either. However, I don't like to pour it "down the middle" to create a big head as they advise. I think bartenders like to put about 1/4 inch head on the beer. That's the way I like it.


This is an epsiode I would highly recommend. Though my version is pretty messed up in a few places, I still found it frightening and interesting. The sound effects of the imp's voice were pretty chilling. Now, playing by the rules, I get to go and read what everyone else has already said about this classic!


The episode itself did not credit Robert Louis Stevenson (although this website does) and, to be fair, Stevenson adapted the story from previous works (it's a German folk tale, I think). Stevenson set his story in the Kingdom of Hawaii before the USA acquired it as a territory. All the versions--the Stevenson version, this version, and Stevenson's source material--deal with the problem of how to sell the imp when you have bought it with the lowest monetary coinage. The ending is different from Stevenson's ending, but it's a very fine modern adaptation. Deal with the Devil.


This show had everything. Wonderful writing. What a great episode and nice vintage commercials as well!!!


Excellent adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Bottle Imp'

gina schackel

The Imp in the Bottle is an exceptional episode. The Imp's voice is creepy and I remember being terrified of it as a kid. I used to tune in to Radio Mystery Theater every night at 10:07. I wonder how the Bottle Imp kept track of floating foreign exchange rates on various currencies to check if a price was really the lowest. Four stars out of five - JUROR #4


Very good episode - after all these adaptations of Stevenson I feel that I should read them. I thought the voice of the imp was strange, but perhaps they were feeling funny at the time they recorded it. It was a good moral development story for the main character I think and even his ex-wife in the end. The recording wasn't the best (very hard to hear at several points) but luckily I was listening on my computer rather than in my car.


The Imp in the Bottle is a great one! Joan Lorring, another lady who will be missed. Here's a few more of my other favorite halloween favorites: The Sending The Black Cat The Ghost Driver The Lodger The Rat A Lady Never Loses Her Head The Edge of Death


I love the Budweiser commercials in CBSRMT


Those were some of my favorite commercials. Do you know what I also liked? Some people have recorded the shows from the radio and sometimes they include about a half hour or so of the news. It is a real treat to her about local and national news from way back then. The two I remember most were the news bites about the Black Panthers, Patty Hurst and the SLA, then there was the news spots about the Zebra Killings. It takes me back. I was just a kid back then so I didn't really understand all that was going on. It was nice to hear them again and understand this time around.


I love hearing recordings that include commercials as well as network news. It always takes me back to the time when I was a kid laying in bed listening to CBS Radio Mystery Theater at 9:00 week nights. The commercials are part of the memory. Love it.


CBS RMT performers and writers are always entertaining. Exuberant background music to heighten the terror is a plus too. Wonderful advertised commercial breaks takes me back in time of melancholia and reminiscence. Story is horrific and an attention getter and holder of my ears. A good episode for a sunny mid-afternoon autumn day.

don l wilkey

Have been listening for a while and this episode really sticks out!! I love the really Supernatural or Ghost Story episodes on CBSRMT !!


Upon wealthy Jasper Sheridan’s death, his nephew, Barry Norton, inherits an antique bottle containing an imp able to grant Barry any amount of money he desires. The owner must resell the bottle, however, to another before his death for less than he paid for it, or the imp will claim his soul for the devil. When the bottle goes to Barry’s former wife, whom he still loves, Barry wants to save her soul by repurchasing the bottle, but Lisha only paid a penny for it.


One of my favorites. Enjoy.


Another really great episode.


One of my favorites. Enjoy.


Another really great episode


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I’d give props to Ian Martin for writing this adaptation. In the original 1891 version, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, it was a tropical tale involving natives and traveling by sea. This version was modernized to the 20th Century and it worked well, only the ending was different. Original version: happy ending. CBSRMT version: heartbreaking ending. Another way to title this mystery tale would be “Time To Pay The Price” or “The Deadly Deal.” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall cuts to the chase by introducing our main character. In ACT-1, after a deal has been made, he ponders about explanations that are beyond our world that might suite another world. In ACT-2, our Hosts tries to communicate to our main character who is now in a Game of Chance (and it’s a good concept, but it would’ve worked if the main character responded back to our Host). In ACT-3, a very quick Resolution about the main character’s coin collection and how he managed to sell the Bottle Imp finally. In his Epilogue, his view that the lower the price of the Imp, the sooner the Owner seem to depart this life (good to know). The sound effects of the footsteps, doors, crickets, cups clinking, dinner bell, car engine, telephones, magic blast explosions, crowd chatting, blues music in the background, busy streets, casino games, dice roll, boat whistle, seagulls, paper money, Lounge music, brandy pouring, crowd noise at the beach, and the final explosion were all superb. The music was spellbinding, from changing of the scenes to the narrations, a spine-tingling enjoyment of tunes for a good Fantasy-Mystery. But the best part in this, was our cast: William Redfield (as Barry Holden), Joan Lorring (as Lisha Alice Breedenhall), Ian Martin (as Jasper Sheridan), Santos Ortega (as Mr. Barnes the Lawyer), and Leon Janney (as Dr. Heeney and Valentine). The last 3 that performed minor characters were terrific, very supportive to add turning points in the scenes. Joan Lorring was wonderful for playing a Southern accent. And William Redfield played one of his best roles on CBSRMT. Anyone who enjoys the works of William Redfield and/or Robert Louis Stevenson should tune in to this. Plus, it has commercials of Budweiser, Oscar Meyer jingle, Buick Century Regal, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, V8 tomato juice, the Navy, Irish Spring Soap, Sports on KRLD, Buick Apollo, American Cancer Society, and TV Guide Magazine. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)


Definitely in my top 10! Excellent episode with marvelous acting, sound effects and storyline. It doesn't get much better. Make a deal with the devil and your going to get burned baby! Yeah greed, adultery, gambling addiction. It had it all and then some. The best was the unfailing love and inner honesty of Barry. The commercials just add appeal to listening. I really enjoy the episodes with the commercials and news. Great job CBSRMT!


Why was the Uncles Empire going bankrupt if he had the Imp in the bottle????? Why would two people talk about marriage the day they meet???? Why did the Imps voice sound like a ridiculous impersonation of a Jeanie????? This episode was way too far fetched and worth a 4-10 sorry Ian!


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