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The Diary of a Madman


This namesake of the famous Nikolai Gogol story deals with the confession of a magistrate to multiple arbitrary homicides.



Air Dates

  • First Run - March 25, 1974
  • Repeat - June 15, 1974
  • Repeat - September 30, 1978
  • Repeat - March 31, 1979





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28 Responses to Episode 0062

Just to clarify. Gogol and de Maupassant both wrote short stories called "The Diary Of A Madman," bearing no resemblance to one another. This episode was based on the de Maupassant story, but set in modern times in the USA. A creepy episode, and well done. Horror thriller, no supernatural elements.


Really creepy story of a judge who commits a series of random murders that are linked to others and then presides over their trials, which ultimately end in death penalties. All the while, he keeps a journal in which he meticulously describes the killings. His wife, meanwhile, makes him nervous by constantly talking about how she just has a "feeling" that the accused aren't guilty, and, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, tells him about it when she accidently finds his journal. I guess that's as good a place as any to stop. There are a couple of other twists and turns that aren't plausible in any real life situation, but do create an interesting listen in the make-believe world of CBS-RMT.


An excellent thriller that lets us look into the heart of an evil man. He kills because of the laws of nature. Eventually, the "artist" has the book thrown at him.


An intelligent man rationalizes his urges to murder. The natural law must be obeyed!


It's 1950 and Frank Wallace is a respected judge. He has a problem though - once in a while he gets the urge to go out at night into the streets and find someone and just kill them. Then, he goes home and writes down the details in a diary that he keeps. He's done it before but a new wrinkle is that some of the murders he committed are blamed on other people - and those people end up in court before him.

Kasey H.

The lowdown: A prominent (very prominent) member of society is a compulsive killer. A well respected, well educated, well known man within his community. He has a twisted mind and believes in killing as a way of nature, a basic fundamental NEED that all humans have but most aren't aware of. He believes in it to the point that killing has become his god. It's his little secret. But killers have to let it out. They have to tell somebody of their depraved deeds and desires. So this killer confided in his diary.

Alvin P.

Isn't Fred Gwynne in the lead role in this episode?


No, not according to the credits EG read at the end of the episode.


Trivial exercise based on, as I recall, a very minor story. A pillar of the community is secretly commiting murders just because he wants to and because "killing is the law of nature". There's an interesting resolution that seems familiar but I can't remember where I've run into it before.

T. Durante

A judge chronicles his secret life of random, dispassionate murder. Guy de Maupassant translates well to CBSRMT. This is one of the best. Highly recommended.

Jonel P.

Fantastic story based on a Guy de Maupassant story (see also Episode 0044 The Horla). A man believes that the urge to kill is part of the greater laws of natural instinct and indulges this need when he sees fit. Being of upper class status, he believes he is perfectly positioned to execute these murders without being suspected. I don’t want to give any more away because I thought the story moved along pretty well and kept me interested right through.

Jacobe James

This is the episode that got me "hooked" on CBSRMT for the second time. Thanks for sharing this episode with the group. This, like all my favorite shows, relies on fantasic narration to paint a great picure in the mind.

Aian V.

I liked the voice performances by the actors. Distinct, believable, dramatic. The one thing I might change would be the ending. Did anyone else find it a little abrupt and almost too easy of a way out to end the show?

Malcolm G.

I did. Radio plays often end this way, though. Very little denouement after the climax.


This is a memorable episode, one I can definitely remember hearing the first time around back in the 1970's. I also remember hearing de Maupassant's The Horla which is also a good listen.

R. Parks

just listened to this one tonight. while it didn't really "scare" me, it certainly was very freaky. just hearing it from the narrative point gave me slight chills! this was a top-notch show and one i am so happy i got to hear (it turns out it wasn't in my collection).


just curious, also, did anyone else's copy have audio blurps and hiccups? i'm hoping it was the file and not my ipod. yikes!

F. Poe

Sorry, but for whatever reason I can't download this file . . . "unexpected error occurred" . . . any thoughts or solutions on this?


I'm starting to wonder about that! A nice creepy show all around. And just enough versimilitude to make it work. A judge who murders; we read about similar things in the real world. A hospital intern who murders, for example. I like the way the final "wrong man", to use a Hitchcock type description, turns the tables on our villian by baiting him and increasing the pressure until he cracks. Nicely written. The copy I downloaded also had jumps and skips in the thrid act. But not a bad encode otherwise. The judge's spouse seemed oddly calm, even during her most stressful moments. Weird. But a fun show all the same!


My copy has about two spots where it skips in the third act also. It's not that bad at all though. Towards the end you can hear it skipping alot.....I thought my first copy of this episodes had no skips....but I erased it. I'm going to try and locate it now.


I agree that there were a lot of skips on this recording and that the ending was a little too quick and pat. However, overall it was certainly an enjoyable episode and the main character did indeed want to be caught so he could show what an artist he thought he was.


Vincent Price starred in the film version of this as the Judge in 1963. Though that story combined elements from TWO de Maupassant short stories. DIARY OF A MADMAN and THE HORLA. Not sure what Gogol's name is doing on this.


This is an excellent episode, as most all episodes based on Guy de Maupassant short stories are. However, I would say that the very best one, in fact, one that is also one of the very best episodes of Mystery Theater in general, is "The Graveyard"- an episode you won't forget.


This is a creepy episode, makes you wonder how many times this might have happened for real. Liked the internal dialogue of the magistrate. I agree with other comments about quality of recording and skips, to bad because it is a great episode.


I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. If there's 1 word to describe this mystery episode, it would be "Memorable." Sam Dann's script, based of a Guy De Maupassant story, was blood-curling entertaining. Not only listening to the conflicts of murder, but also dive into the mind of a killer who sees himself as a heroic killer. The most chilling, yet creepiest part of all, was when the killer goes to the hospital to visit his surviving victim and donates a pint of blood to him. The concept of a killer donating a part of his life into his victim's health and then killing him softly afterwards; a total chill factor! The only disappointing part of this, is that it's written in modern times. Guy De Maupassant's original story took place in the 1800's. Perhaps if Sam Dann wrote the story that took place in that time period, it could've worked. The title of this story says it all of what the story's about. It could also be titled as "The Killer Chronicles" or "The Art Of Murder." In our Host's Prologue, E.G. Marshall begins with the topic of murder, which is a basic element to a normal mystery tale. In ACT-1, meet our mysterious main character and a homicide is about to take place. In ACT-2, our main character is a judge by day, killer by night. Once the diary is found, the wife of the killer is foolish to find it and foolish to tell him about it. In ACT-3, once the killer falls into a trap of confessing to his crimes, E.G. Marshall wraps it up that this story demonstrates that no one should try to steal credit from a true artist, even if the art involves murder. In his Epilogue, point out that murder is within humans and it may emerge, but E.G. Marshall kindly recommends that we should listen to stories about murder instead. Sound effects of footsteps, howling wind, ruffling, body thud, tableware clinking, courtroom murmurs, gavel bang, romantic piano music playing, traffic noise, car engine, slap on the face, cups clinking, and jail cell bars were helpful and supportive. As the for the music, perfect. The dramatic tunes keep listeners in suspense, but best of all, the chilling tunes during the killer's narrations would keep listeners on the edge of their seats. And the cast in this was top-notch outstanding: Larry Haines (as Judge Franklin K. Wallace), Evie Juster (as Darlene Wilson and Estelle Wallace), Robert Dryden (as the Prosecutor and Peter Simmons), and William Redfield (as Jim Downer and Tom Lewis). The 3 that played multiple roles were a delight. But our leading man, Larry Haines, was superb! If you love his performance in Ep. #0167-THE BLACK ROOM, you'll love his performance in this. Until next time…pleasant dreams.


They did another version of this with Fred Gwynne as the madman. I think he did a better job portraying a sinister role. Larry Haines sounded too nice somehow. Fred Gwynne was really good at portraying the judge's transition into madness whenever he heard the word "law" (which seemed to be his "trigger" word.)


I was struck by how much the lead actor reminded me of Orson Welles in The Stranger .... the way he delivered his lines was very similar. And the way he devolved into madness as his plot unraveled was also similar. Good show!


Good story, indeed, but the always relatable, Everyman Larry Haines is sadly miscast here. Loved the ending, so fitting, a great strong woman character.

Melanie C

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