Jul 31, 2009

Posted in Tales of Suspense

Danger at Seven Mile Bend

Copyright 1994
110 minutes (Part I 60:00, Part II, 50:00)

An epic river story and suspense thriller. If Mark Twain and Aaron Copland had gotten together to create an American river story for radio, it would probably sound something like this. Richard Thomas gives a memorable performance as river pilot Jeb Hardy, hired to deliver 15 barges and 40 million pounds of coal upriver on the Ohio to a power plant above Cincinnati. What begins as idyllic rafting trip turns into a pilot’s worst nightmare, as the tow encounters a flash flood, a coal fire on the lead barge, and worst of all, a family of inexperienced motor boaters swept down river in the dark.

This highly produced program has been our most ambitious undertaking so far. It has a feature film feel to it, and a cast that includes river legends Capt. Edgar Allan Poe and John Hartford, as well as actors Stephen Russell, Annemarie Lang, David Wallace and Nicole Noel. The production includes awesome sound effects recorded on the river (including Cincinnati’s famous Singing Bridge before demolition). The fully orchestrated score by composer Mark Birmingham includes a stirring 2 minute overture.

  1. This is an ambitious undertaking, clocking in as a double-length story complete with film-like scoring, superior sound effects and great acting from Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton.)

    The sounds of the river, the barge and other on-site recorded effects really make the difference. Mr. Oney can never be accused of slacking when it comes to detail. Everything from thunderstorms to a railroad flare, jet skis, running feet on a deck to grinding metal is captured maticulously. The nail-biting climax is powerful as the listener gets to feel the sensation of being submerged under water. I actually found myself holding my breath,.

    The only flaw is that the story runs about 20 minutes longer than it should. The presentation of the impending disaster at the beginning is well done and as mentioned, the pay-off at the end is superbly rendered. But the middle seems to drag on a bit as Uncle Jeb spends a good deal of time telling stories to his nephew who is along for the ride. Richard Thomas is known for his folksy performances, but story time probably could’ve been trimmed a bit. Still, the build-up, slow though it may be at times, is worth the wait.

    I owned the cassette copy of this story in the ’90’s, but purchased the mp3 download. The sound transfer is excellent. All tape hiss and digital artifacts seem to be removed. It was well worth the price of admition.

    If you like disaster stories akin to The Poseidon Adventure, you’ll enjoy this audio drama. Like most of the other CCRMT offerings, it is presented in stereo and is best listened to with headphones, or with a high-end stereo system.

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