Thursday, February 24, 2011

One of the Best: The Black Museum

According to Wikipedia:
The Black Museum of Scotland Yard is a famed collection of criminal memorabilia kept at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London, England. The museum came into existence sometime in 1874, although unofficially. It was housed at Scotland Yard, and grew from the collection of prisoners' property gathered under the authority of the Prisoners Property Act of 1869. The act was intended to help the police in their study of crime and criminals. By 1875, it had become an official museum of the force, with a police inspector and a police constable assigned to duty there. The first visitors for whom records exist came in 1877. The first known reference to the museum as the "Black Museum" came that year as well

Despite being intended primarily for use by the police, the public could see it by special arrangement. The name "Black Museum" was a nickname; the collection was formally referred to as the "Crime Museum."
Orson Welles
There are four old-time radio shows that derive their material from the museum: one is the fine but rather milquetoast, Whitehall 1212, the even-better Secrets of Scotland Yard, something I have never heard - called Fabian of the Yard and the other is the more notorious Black Museum.

The Black Museum was a BBC program and contained no commercials. It's opening and closing music may be the best in all of OTR with it's gripping use of the string section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Orson Welles was the narrator at the beginning and the end of each episode. He would refer to the museum as a "repository of crime" - and would describe several objects in the museum until he got to the museum piece that would serve as the backbone of the plot of that particular program.

The acting on the show is first-class and the story was also. There's a nice flow about the show and the tension builds as the show progresses. It's very well done.

Welles always ended his portion of the show with the very memorable:
"And now, until we meet again next time in the same place, when I tell you another story about the Black Museum, I remain as always, obedient for yours."
I'm not really sure what that meant or means even today but it sounds awesome when Welles said it.

Easily 4 and half or more stars.

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