Friday, July 6, 2007

I Was a Production Artist With a Slow Afternoon

Has this ever happened to you? You're driving a car or sitting in an airport or taking a dump or sitting with hot compresses over your eyes and you think, "I'd like to listen to some old-time radio right now?" Well, I listen to a lot of OTR (that's what people like me call it, OTR) and sure, you can listen to the classics, Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, You Bet Your Life, Suspense, Escape, Night Beat, Johnny Dollar, X Minus 1 or You are There, all fine shows but might I suggest…I Was a Communist For The FBI? That's how the announcer reads the name of the show, like it's the most astonishing concept possible that someone could have worked as a communist for the FBI. 55 Years later I doubt it surprises anyone but this is a very good show.

I Was a Communist For The FBI is based on the memoirs of Matt Cvetic who spent about seven years as a double agent inside the American Communist party. It was made into a movie in 1951 starring Night Beat's Frank Lovejoy. The lead is played by Dana Andrews at his pathetic, world-weary best. His life is a pure paranoia of working for a secret organization while inside another secret organization. He is constantly watched and constantly thinking on his feet and making excuses. Episodes are filled with tension over just being able to make a mail drop or find a pay phone. He has led this secret life for years and doesn't know when it will end. Even his family has abandoned him. One of the best parts of the show is that Cvetic is no superman, he acts like most of us would. He constantly complains and feels sorry for himself to the point of whining. Cvetic has trouble remembering the many code names he has to use and recognize and often lashes out at his FBI or CPUSA handlers.

Cvetic's job is especially difficult because he is usually unaware of the true motives of either group. His bosses and both sides never tell him the whole story and when he asks they tell him to stop asking questions. Then he has to resolve the situation so the America-hurting schemes fail but Cvetic isn't implicated.

It's a great show and you should check it out.

Here you can buy a copy of every episode

Here you can download some episodes. "I Can't Sleep" is a good one.

Here are the FBI's FOIA files on the series. The Bureau didn't approve of the show and actually kicked the real Cvetic out in 1950 because of erratic behavior.

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