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The Pit and the Pendulum


A young man invents a formula that could destroy the world if it fell into the wrong hands. He and his wife are tormented and threatened to get him to reveal the secret.



Air Dates

  • First Run - March 4, 1975
  • Repeat - May 25, 1975
  • Repeat - July 8, 1979





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22 Responses to Episode 0233

Interesting twist ending.


One of the better stories. Good ending.

Roger Huggett Jr.

Another Poe adaptation. A couple is kidnapped and subjected to mental torture in a dungeon. The effort is to get the husband to reveal the secret formula of a biological weopon.


The stark, single character story of psychologically acute torture at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition is turned into a dull modern espionage melodrama. Another, lamentably, average episode.

Dennis Angelo

A man makes periodic trips to Europe as part of his work, the nature of which is unknown to his wife, and the details kept top secret. His wife accompanies him in the limo to the airport on his latest trip when the driver takes an unexpected turn away from the airport. The two are kidnapped and tortured to get the husband to reveal his secrets. My wife even listened and enjoyed it!!!

C. Jones

I love this retelling. It"s done tastefully and they give credit to Poe who inspired the story. Norman Rose was perfect as Mr. X. Great selection!


My favorite male (Rose) and female (Seldes) voices on the RMT are great on this. I agree that Rose was well-cast...I've never quite heard him this cool-sounding even when he was a bad guy in other roles. Great choice! I also like Tony Roberts in his part.


I liked this modernized version of Poe's classic tale. The writing was solid and the subject matter, a formula for a weapon of mass destruction, was relevant with today's political climate. Our protagonists were likeable and the tale made us think, "What would I do if put in the same situation?" There was certainly enough to make this tale a worthy retelling of the original.

Jeff L. Oliver

I was ready for "yet another version" of this one, and to be honest, I kind of sneered. In high school, we spent weeks on this one in a Lit. Class... then in college, it was covered extensively in another course. It was enough to cause the aforementioned sneer. However, perhaps knowing the tale so well as it was, I was delighted with this adaptation. It was well played and Mr. X (Norman Rose) was especially convincing. I just loved the updated version of it overall. It was fresh and still grasping. Excellent choice on this one!! Thanks,


Well, I guess I'll have to play odd-man-out this week. I really didn't care for this version of the story at all. I often do enjoy RMT's modernized adaptations. For example, I think their version of The Tell-Tale Heart is excellent---very compelling. But this one just didn't work for me. I thought the whole trick ending was pretty hokey AND predictable, and that Mr X was pretty over-the-top. Actually, I thought he was pretty funny. He had me crackin' up. :lol: Also, overall, I just don't care for secret agent, spy counter-spy, or mental torture scenarios. Yeah, that was a really controlled experiment. Psychiatrists standing by to stop the test at the first signs of mental breakdown? Give me a break. Now if the guy had been a really top-flight secret US government agent, he would have figured out how to knock off Mr X with a ball-point pen or a wad of chewing gum or something. Or maybe the wife seduces Mr X and then gives him a few Emma Peel karate chops and throws him in the pit. THAT would have been a good story!

Joanne N.

I agree with you for the most part on the secret agent stuff. But I do like the mental torture stories. I think they are one of the most effective stories in radio because it's the easiest story through which to build tension. I enjoy them I think more than most RMT fans. That's why I liked "Out of Sight" so much while almost nobody else liked it. I was able to overlook the gratuitously overt feminist message and enjoy a good story. Not something I always accomplish with other types of stories. BTW, I had to put a script of Sam Dann down there with Elspeth's worst entry. Take my advice, avoid "My Kingdom for a Horse" at all costs! There must be an error in the credits because it sounded very little like Dann and a lot like Eric.


I gotta tell ya, I'm beginning to see your point about Elspeth Eric. I've been listening to a lot of episodes lately and, with the sole exceptions of The Transformation, The Walls of Jericho, and possibly ...Bobby Deland, I can't even make it all the way through many of her plays. She definitely wrote some of the worst. (Mind Over Matthew, P! U! What a stinker!) However, her adaptation of The Transformation is still my very favorite episode, so I gotta give her some credit. It's really a gem. (Although I think Mary Shelley's awesome storytelling probably has more to do with why I like it than anything else. Also Kevin McCarthy's performance and the overall high production values---Hi Brown did a bang-up job producing and directing that one.)


not a bad show but i really like the origional so i was a bit biased against it. i never had the feeling that the man and wife were in real trouble. it was like watching a tv. series when you know the stars won't get killed off. mr. x was good. i think if he would have acted a little more psycho i would have been more worried. maybe because i was sucked into BLIZARD OF FEAR ( good show) i was more cautious this time. the wife's strength of will was a good part of THE PIT. i onlt gave it a 3. maybe i was too rough.

Gracie Anne S.

The twist at the end was great and I really felt the torment our couple was going through as I listened to it.


A fun verson of an EAP classic. A predictable ending. I just didn't "feel" the terror enough.


Interesting twist ending.

gina schackel

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is George Lothar's fantastic re-telling of the classic Poe tale in a modern setting. Go back and read the original (only 3 pages or so); Poe is simply genius. The always stellar Tony Roberts and the genuine Marian Seldes are superb as a married couple caught up in the twisted complexities and dark stakes of national security and bio-warfare secrets. The story ventures into the interesting question of how far a country might go in encroaching personal freedoms to ensure the safety of the masses; chilling and timely. Norman Rose is the master of this tale. As the antagonist, he evokes in the listener a visceral hatred of his character on a level rarely experienced in radio theater. By the way, there is not one Poe adaptation by CBSRMT that I haven't found thoroughly enjoyable. CBSRMT never shines as well as when Poe is in the cards; I especially recommend The Fall of the House of Usher (in my top five CBSRMTs of all time) as well as the Masque of the Red Death. Five star maximum for PIT and PENDULUM - JUROR # 4.


Although I did like the modernized version of this tale up to a point, there was a point where I didn't think it was as good as it could've been. To me it felt like Mr. X was definitely NOT going to do anything to them after he didn't kill the wife with the pendulum. It may have been a good psychological move at the time, but it didn't feel that good to me. I guess I'd be middle of the road on this one.


Memories. I was 13 years old the first time I listened to CBSRMT. Apparently, it was July 8, 1979, as this was the episode.

James Woodard

That Todd wasn't very smart, was he, lol?!?!? He could have simply lied and given them a fake formula. Duh! I'm not a fan of torture stories, but this one is really stupid, lol! It would have been dumb enough a spy story and the ending was even dumber. What's all the mention of Elspeth Eric? This episode was written by George Lowthar.


Thank God they had private brain care specialists standing by in case Todd got into trouble! I’m afraid I busted out laughing at that line! The dilemma is real enough, though, in a world of violent ideological fanatics, and this was a fair adaptation of the story. There are many enemies of our country that are this vicious and worse. Better to die than to be taken prisoner by them. God help us.


Good story. I saw the ending coming!


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