CBSRMT Episode Information Next Episode


Blood Red Roses


When his son is brutally murdered by the mafia, a father's beliefs are shaken. He meets the mastermind behind the crime and falls deeper into confusion and the Boss' love for Red Roses is the key to their salvation.



Air Dates

  • First Run - July 12, 1976
  • Repeat - October 13, 1976





78     14

39 Responses to Episode 0497

A pacifist's beliefs are challenged when his son is murdered by mobsters. When he meets the man behind the murder, he ends up liking him.

Gheena J. Lewis

The father of a humble, spiritual, and generous man seeks vengeance after his son is killed while trying to protect an informer from a gangland execution. A fabulous story with a strong moral message.

John Mina

Not bad... - There's a recurring cello-and-percussion(-and if played long enough: woodwinds, an electric organ?) music bed in this, first heard at the 8:09 mark and always when Dryden's character is thinking, that's well done in that it conveys multiple moods - first sadness and reflection on the past (the cellos) then a slight, unnerving hint of mystery (the percussive tones made by a slowly-pounded xylophone-like instrument) then an element of expectation, good or bad, for the future (when the woodwinds and/or keyboard begin to play). A few other music beds were like this when they were allowed to play for a longer amount of time than 5 would be interesting to have heard the full compositions for many of the CBS/CBS RMT fine background music tracks. - I didn't quite get the connection...Dryden's character's son is so godly (or at least spiritual) at show's beginning but in the third act he's portrayed as callous and hard. Did I miss Dryden speaking about his son's conversion and what triggered it? - Most importantly, this was an interesting recurring theme at the RMT - mercy with justice, mercy with justice. One could argue that it was shown to a degree on an RMT episode earlier in the summer: "The ghosts of yesterday" - Teri Keane played an individual who'd certainly been through intense hardship and seen her and/or her family's earthly lives ruined by another, only to finally confront that "other" in a situation where she could bring life (and mercy) or death. However, I can't recall that she ever vowed to kill her tormentor as Dryden's character did - with that in mind I'd recommend to my RMT friends two other episodes with the same "Blood Red Roses" theme: 1. "Killer's Appointment", with Marian Seldes (and I think William Redfield), and; 2. "The only blood", Jack Grimes and others. This latter show may be my all-time "morality without the supernatural" tale on the RMT.

Nico M.

how fortuitous... i just listened to this last week. GREAT episode!!!!!! A wonderful moral tale in which the protagonist gets to have his cake and eat it too (i've never really understood that idiom... but the intent is clear)

Mark Jade B.

I often forget the names of episodes I really liked, and these selections usually turn out to be among my favorites. This one is reminiscent of the recent selection, "The Only Blood," in that we have an immigrant father bent on revenge against a mob boss that was responsible for killing his son. In both morality plays, the father's rage and thirst for vengeance succumb to their strength of character. Here we have a hero that, through his example, turns the son of the mob boss into a replacement for his own son among the good guys, while the mob boss, in effect, is robbed of his own son. "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" is what the concerned wife told her husband, and it came to pass that he achieved his "revenge" in a positive, rather than destructive way. I enjoyed it immensely and gave it a "4." Of course, in these hour-long plays there are always flaws, particularly heard in these modern days of realism. But surface questions of fact are not as compelling as the symbolism throughout. I especially liked the garden that the old man restored to natural vigor at the estate of the mob boss, a defining symbol that convinced the son to reconstitute his own life. Very enjoyable, nice choice.


This one was an excellent show! I remember listening to it as my cruise ship steamed away from St. Thomas enroute to St. Martin. Seldom will you find deeper, better developed characters than the hero and the anti-hero in this story. It's hard to think of him as a villian because he is, for the most part, easily identified with.


Last year I suggested a couple of "double play" episodes, suggesting two episodes at a time which had very strong plot links to each other. Well, I'm glad I didn't suggest this as a companion "twin spin" to "The only blood". These both deserve to stand alone. There are parallels a-plenty for both these shows...there ought to be, as they were both written by one of our faves Sam Dann. Each has a strong, Bible-believing man from the "old country". A son who was lost, to a gangster chieftain who himself has only one child. A police officer who says "You can't get close enough to this guy to kill him, and even if you could you don't want to do this anyway." A plan initially for revenge, which somehow changes. There was one part about the ending (it involved what Dryden's character said) I didn't enjoy as much, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this show. 

Wally Myers

I agree with everything you said, up until the above quote. I found this episode to be reaming with irony and did a lot of approving head-nodding. I'm not sure what you mean by "flaws heard these modern days of realism." Would you care to elaborate? I gave the show a 5, because as I was listening, I truly had no idea where it was going. By the end I was extremely delighted that the writer chose the path he did. I chose this episode, because after not having an OTR show for a few weeks, I thought it would be a nice follow-up to the excellent and similar. The Only Blood from a few weeks back.


This does go well with "The Only Blood." And by "flaws," I don't want to be the picky one (again!)... but, fer instance, I thought Sam did a nice job of trying to address an obvious one when the gangster's kid said, " was so long ago I fogot the guy's name," when referencing our hero's dead son. And certainly, a gangster can't remember the last names of everyone he is responsible for indirectly murdering, nor would Joe and Albee, the thugs that carried it out, be likely to remember the innocent victim's last name, so that none of the four of them (Sam, Albee, Capone and his son) noticed that this old guy that shows up with free roses has the same last name as the innocent victim whose father stalked the neighborhood for weeks/months (?) to get an ID of the killers.... I don't have the episode with me and I don't remember the hero's name but I don't think it was Smith or Jones or something particularly generic. But hey, I shouldn't have even mentioned that because I didn't let it detract from the excellent storyline. And, this was about the fourth time I've listened to this in a relatively short period of time.... Seriously, I understand the limitations of a play, I am really not complaining! It is a top-notch episode.

Zeus Kim C.

You know, I seem to remember thinking that it was a bit odd that nobody recognized the man's name as being the same as the murdered son, but it slipped by in the course of listening. Your point is totally relevant and justified. Audience members can only suspend so much disbelief in a tale before an oversight (however big or small) in the writing, such as this, is caught and questioned. Excellent catch and well worth pointing out! Thank you!


This was a well-written script by Sam Dann. It's always a pleasure when I don't know where the story is heading until late in the game. Plus, I'm not sure how often a gardener has been a leading character, providing for some interesting twists to the plot. Robert Dryden gives a strong, heartfelt performance that stays on pitch throughout. He doesn't overplay his rage and grief and the "old country" accent was nicely done. The supporting actors pull off commendable performances as well. As for the quote at the end "An eye for an eye," I don't believe what Dryden's character helped to accomplish is so brutallly simple. He not only took the gangster's son away from him (and not through violent means), he also nurtured the son's struggle to change (to "bloom" if you'll forgive the heavy handed imagery) into a better person than his father. Uberfrau (aka Lisa) "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind" - M.K. Gandhi

Carlos R.

I thought this was an excellent episode. Classic Sam Dann.

Stephen D.

I think my unhappiness with this episode has more to do with my mental state. It took me three tries to hear the entire episode. The first attempt was ended two-thirds of the way through by a bad MP3 copy. The second attempt was ended by my sleepiness. I finally listened to the end last night. I have learned my lesson--listen all the way through each time. I missed the nuances. ARG! Maybe I didn't pick up on this episode because I did just listen to "The Only Blood" last week. Anyway, a good episode even if I didn't listen all the way through at once.


The writing here is definitely superb! I'll have to pull this one out and listen again. Cool!


Good choice! I had to listen to it this morning while I was preparing more audio CD's of CRMT for my mother. This was a good episode with that element of right and wrong that has been commented on very often on this page. So, a good man comes to America, is forced to pay protection money to the mob, and he doesn't want to do that. Then his family is killed and he takes the law into his own hands. I liked the twist at the the end. I really likes twists in the stories. If I wasn't expecting it, that is even better. A man could let the mobster die or give him his blood to save his life. For me it was a good morality question. I am not going to dwell on the question of what ethics were ignored by the medical employee at the hospital who let priviledged information become public. I am also going to ignore the fact that people with money ususally get off in court cases. Overall, this was yet another great story


In the RMT's "The Venus d'Ile" Robert Dryden warns Norman Rose not to put his ring on the finger of a statue that is eponymous with the program title. Dryden's character says something to the effect of: "I was going to say this is sacreligious but...that's not the right word." Well, in describing this show I want to say this is the best story of vengeance I've ever heard but..."vengeance" isn't the right word, either. One of playwright Sam Dann's best ever for the RMT, if not his very best, IMO. This is one I always enjoy listening to, even though it has no supernatural or quasi-supernatural elements whatsoever.


In my humble opinion this is a perfect episode. It's one of my top ten favorite Mystery Theater plays of all time. Sam Dann's script is simple, but inspired, moving, and full of truth. Also, Howard daSilva is one of my favorite RMT performers and he's terrific in this. I'll leave all discussion and analysis to others. As for myself, I'd give "The Only Blood" a 10 if I could.

Justin Ralph

"I thought his blood would be as base and as common as sewage." - Anthony Boda in "The only blood" Greatness from Sam Dann. Sorry that I didn't put the quote in my response earlier.

Willmon Ryan

This is certainly an admirable episode, entirely worthy. It held me all the way through, but not in any kind of mystical or diabolical way. More like a great book that you just can't put down. I thought the acting was some of the best I've heard in an RMT show. Also, the sound effects and score were notable. And I'm sorry to nit-pick, but there was, for me, one little flaw in this episode that after listening a second time I couldn't escape. When the man is on the hospital bed in dire need of blood, he begins to beg. He begs for his life. He begs to the man whom he swore to kill. It just didn't sit well with the rest of the program. I had to suspend disbelief and assume the man was loopy on pain medication and couldn't help what he was saying, but then when asked if he would return the effort, he very coldly, callously, and consciously said, "No." Again, I may be just persnickity about it, but this was a vital bit of the overall finale of the plot. Had he declined the idea of receiving the blood of his nemesis, which would have made a heck of a lot more sense, then the story would have fallen right there. It's such a minor detail, but such an important element in completing the tale. I gave the show a 4.4 and still consider it one of the top shows I've heard. Had this little bit not bothered me, I'd have rated it higher. Thanks for an excellent choice! I look forward to the next show!


I enjoyed the episode and the ongoing moral dilemmas. I appreciate Sam Dann's work because of the great depth, strong characters and good lines. I thought the gangster's daughter overacted and her credibility was strained with the "two Al Culvers" bit (or whatever his name was, I heard it yesterday). I found it difficult to swallow that her dad could be so well known that it could appear in a newspaper article, a notorious mob boss accused of murder, and she would be the only one that didn't know it was her own dad. I hope that private girl's school she was trying to get into doesn't give intelligence pre-entrance exams. "Duh, yeah, honey, that's my bullet-proof car. I need it to protect me from errant golf balls when I drive by the country club..." Other than that, though, a very nice play.

Jimmy N.

I have to say, that's a very interesting point. Especially about the car. Nice observation!


Hate to sound sexist would the average girl tell the difference between a bulletproof car and a regular one, such as this bulletproof BMW? I've never seen "The Sopranos", but when did Tony's daughter learn that her father was involved in things other than the "waste disposal business"? Doesn't she try to believe that her father's interests are legitimate?


Devil's Advocate here... this show takes place in 1934. I think it would be obvious if Dad were tooling around in a bulletproof car. The only person who was driving that kind of car would have been FDR, and his bulletproof Packard Limo was a 1937 model. It would have been outrageously expensive to own a bulletproof car back in the 1930's, as is further illustrated in your link of an $88,000 BMW. Darling daughter requires the aid of suspended disbelief in this tale, for even if she weren't the dryest match in the box, she'd HAVE to notice that Daddy's car was awfully different from the Lombardo family next door (sorry, OTR humor). I'm also another person who never watched the Soprano's. Sounds as though the writer's of the show were trying to humanize the "family." I should watch it one of these days.


I listened and logged this episode a year ago - gave it a 10 out of 10.

Kris Klosterman

good points would she know it was a bulletproof car? And what if Daddy (who she knew was rich) told her he bought it from a head of state somewhere who needed such protection, and that she believed him? I know we think she is gullible, but she's also innocent, and innocent people do have a tendency to trust other people (and sometimes, sadly, can have that virtue taken advantage of.)

Jerome Juggs

Trust me, I think she'd know something was up with a 1930's bulletproof car, since the bulk armor it wore would be several inches thicker than your average 30's vehicle. And true, innocent people do often trust people a bit too openly, but unless this young woman was a complete dolt, I don't see how a person could buy into it without questioning. I'm just saying, is all.


Maybe I'm wrong, but I just get this feeling that a girl attending an upscale women's college isn't going to be asking about 1/4 inch armor plate lining the driver's compartment (what if it wasn't visble, but was covered by some other material?) or why her Daddy's car has a 452 cubic inch, 16 cylinder motor? I'll bet that was a big point of discussion at her sorority house. There are some things which could be questioned on this story (though not much, IMO) but this one really didn't bother me that much...but maybe that's just me.

June A.

This is wonderful, friendly debate (that was actually started by Kizer, not me - I am only the Devil's Advocate here, pushing the strain of the topic!) Thanks for the pictures and the link. I honestly would have to agree that in true life, an upscale broad (using lingo of the era) would likely have no concern about how Daddy brings in the bacon, nor the kind of car he drove, as long as she was taken care of. Again, like I said, tho, if disbelief is suspended, and we assume that she is not concerned about these things (which is quite different that not being observant enough to notice the hulking metal machine parked in the driveway), then so ends any question of the matter. However, I still think the girl was a bit tortoisey. Lastly, my only gripe regarding the show itself can be found in my original response to the post. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I've enjoyed our debate as well!


Sorry, folks. I am loving this discussion and I realize I was just stirring the pot when I brought that stuff up. I am enough of a fan of radio drama to appreciate the challenge of writing depth into a play of 40 minutes in length. And also to appreciate that a suspension of disbelief and an ability to indulge fantasy will add much to the enjoyment of these and similar programs. God knows I prefer this entertainment to what today are referred to as "reality" programs. At least Al Corley's daughter is fictional; and Paris Hilton is supposed to be "real?" I promise I won't get nit-picky again with anything that might seem too corny or too much of a stretch (well... maybe not promise). The fact is, I really enjoyed the episode. The naive daughter not realizing her daddy was a famous thug certainly didn't spoil the overall impact of the work. I guess, like many reviewers and critics in our society, I was just trying to find something different to say. Nice car research, dude. Now, what about a blood type so rare that, in a town large enough to support a wealthy organized crime boss, only two people have it.... (okay, I know, I promised! I'm just joshin' witchya). In case the ghost of Sam Dann is about to e-mail me a virus, let me say that he is my favorite CBSRMT writer.


Honestly, I don't know much about cars and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know it was a bullet-proof car if my Dad owned one. Besides, maybe he has his daughter chauffered in a different car. What has it got to do with the main theme of the story anyways? Also, Fizz, I find it totally believable that the guy would beg for his life if he was dying. Most anyone would. Especially this guy--he's a taker, not a giver (except to his daughter). The moment of truth is when he is forced to admit he wouldn't do the same for Boda. And, hey, in the end, that admission saved his life. Let's play a game: If the story were turned around and Boda was lying there dying, do you think he'd beg? I doubt it. I think the begging was very much in line with how the mob boss was characterized--he had worldly power, but was a weak person.


I don't know... the way it was presented, he wanted to kill Boda. Again, in a drug induced state, I could accept the begging, but his delivery of "NO." when asked if he'd do the same was too sober. I'd have expected him to say something more on the lines of, "You? You're the donor? I'LL KEEL YOU BEFORE I TAKE YOUR BLOOD!!" as he lunges from the bed at Boda's throat. His whole, "No, please, help me... I don't want to die!" routine was thin for me. This is, of course, perception, so our difference in view is good. You got me to rethink my own analysis of the drama... even though I still think it was a wimpy plot twist. --- Kizer - haha! thanks for spurring on the conversation. I enjoy a discussion in which there are differences in opinion, perception, and facts that can be drawn out to prove a point (ie, Texas' cars). Without this, we end up having a dullsome review of each show where everyone just reiterates the plot and says, "Good show." There's selections I've made in the past, hoping to drum up some controversy (Beyond Belief is one), but nothing much happened in that thread. We're very lucky when an episode combines the elements of great writing, with believable situations, and identifiable characters, only to have one small thing be a glaring lucifer to the certain listeners. I applaud our discussions and hope we have many more ahead... Now, if only UNTIL NEXT TIME were here to join in with the discussion. Say, where is he?


Apparently there was confusion on this episode (mixed up files?) as I do remember the other story people are talking about, but not in enough detail. This story, however, was a very good story about morality and revenge. It was interesting to see how the implementation of the revenge changed over time and how the final part of it was, in a sense, caused by the initial instigation of revenge.


When his son, Steve, a young priest, becomes an innocent victim of gangland war and the police make no arrests, Nick Birko sets out to make amends himself. He soon tracks down the head mobster, Jerry Bizett, and uses their mutual interest in growing roses -- and Nick’s “Blood Red Roses” -- to get a job as Bizett’s gardener. But it’s the mobster’s son, Junior, that revengeful Nick is after -- paraphrasing the Bible: an eye for an eye, a son for a son.


When his son, Steve, a young priest, becomes an innocent victim of gangland war and the police make no arrests, Nick Birko sets out to make amends himself. He soon tracks down the head mobster, Jerry Bizett, and uses their mutual interest in growing roses—and Nick’s “Blood Red Roses”—to get a job as Bizett’s gardener. But it’s the mobster’s son, Junior, that revengeful Nick is after.


Lots of satisfaction from this story. The rage of revenge turned into something good; avenging his son's death with the perfect solution so that both children win. In the long run, the priest, the gardener's son, gave his life to save the son of the gangster - what his life's mission was. The interesting part was the gardener's ability to not get swept into the trappings of the gangster's lifestyle. The gardener's gardens flourished because of the basic good/love in his heart and the gangster's son was attracted to that. The gangster's son had not been introduced to that type of love before. This was foreshadowed with the flashback of the gardener and his son when the son had told the father that he was in America now. What mattered was good hard bucks. The gardener actually saved 2 children. A win win for all. Good story.


Many of the 1,399 episodes of the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” were excellent, and Blood Red Roses was one of the best. It had everything that a mystery story should have, including a definitive resolution. The irony of exacting revenge by saving a person from a life of crime is unexpected and pleasing.

CL Gammon

I really enjoyed this episode. Definitely one of my favorites.


After a few listens, this has turned into one of my favorite episodes. Best line, when the old man sees the mob boss for the first time: "My heart almost skipped a beat. This man...he dressed like a dandy. He used cologne. I could crush him with both hands. There had to be some mistake." 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Cindy Caldwell



Leave a comment