Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 256 – On Stage

E. Jack NeumanE. Jack Neuman was probably one of the best radio script writers in the age of radio drama. He wrote for many series including many detective series as well as other drama series. He moved onto a successful television writing career later in the fifties though he was still writing for radio into the mi-fifties.

He considered it a privilege that he was able to write a number of scripts for the Elliott and Cathy Lewis vehicle called On Stage.  Radio historian John Dunning called On Stage “the pinnacle of radio drama.” He also felt as do I that this episode from that series called “Statement of Fact” was possibly one of the best written suspense dramas for radio. I present several clips with the writer Neuman and producer Elliott Lewis speaking about this play which could be viewed today as an early example of the relationships of man and women as well as a common man versus the system story.

Music under is Miles Davis performing “Blue In Green”

Thanks to John Dunning for his interviews.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 255 – Mr. District Attorney

Mr. District Attorney In 1935, then relatively unknown and untested Federal Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey was appointed special prosecutor for New York County by then Governor Herbert Lehman to attempt to pursue the mob and political corruption including graft, bribes and other crimes.

Inspired by Dewey’s work, a young, former law student named Edward A. Byron, created a new radio drama for producer Phillips H. Lord about a crime fighting DA. The series was called Mr. District Attorney. It was less of a courtroom drama and more of a detective-crime-solving attorney one.

The series featured actors Jay Jostyn and Vickie Vola (both above right) as the D.A. and Miss Miller, his secretary. Both portrayed these roles until it left network radio in 1952 having joined the series about 1940.

Music under is “I Can’t Get Started” performed by Warren Vache.
Thanks to Chuck Schaden for the Jostyn clip.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 254 – Adventures of Christopher London

Glenn Ford With changes in how Hollywood worked with actors and contracts, a number of well-known actors began doing usually short term series on radio including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Bold Venture, Dana Andrews in I Was A Communist for the FBI, Joel McCrea, Tyrone Powers, Alan Ladd and Glenn Ford, who starred in a detective/adventure series called The Adventures of Christopher London.

In declining radio markets, competition was fierce and some of the stars, it was hoped, would draw listeners away from popular programs on other networks. When you listen to The Adventures of Christopher London you’ll notice right away that it is a top notch production. NBC hired mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner to create a character that is a handsome, single, cynical, ladies’ man that sets out each week on an adventure solving crimes around the world.

Despite its best effort, as was the case with many big screen actors coming to radio, it simply wasn’t enough to sustain any length of time to develop a truly devoted listenership.

Music under includes Requiem For a Dream performed by the Kronos Quartet; the Larry Clinton Orchestra with Bea Wain singing Heart and Soul and Al Bowlly singing Heart and Soul.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 253 – Suspense – Last Night

MargoCornell Woolrich wrote a short story under the pseudonym of William Irish which he titled The Red Tide. While the story was well written, the plotting was overly melodramatic and never was one of his better ones. In 1943, it is believed he was given an opportunity to write a radio play based on the story for the series Suspense. He expanded the original story and created a passable radio play utilizing his familiar oscillation plotting in which the reader and listener is moved in opinion back and forth on the guilt or innocence of one of the characters. He titled the script Last Night and was so pleased with it, that he later re-wrote the original story expanding it similar to the radio play and titling it the same as the script.

The play starred the actress known as Margo on screen, possibly because her real name was Maria Marguerita Guadelupe Boldao y Castilla. Margo’s acting in the radio play was like the story – overly melodramatic. Still it passes as an interesting Woolrich noir storyline involving possible murder.

Music under is “Blue Is Green” performed by Miles Davis.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 252 – The Fat Man

J Scott SmartAnother look at Dashiell Hammett’s creation for radio – The Fat Man. The Brad Runyon character was never seen in Hammett’s stories, though the overall character creation was his despite his not writing any of the scripts for radio. Hammett wasn’t a big fan of radio drama nor of how his characters were developed over the medium.  Quite honestly, he did it for the money mostly.

I also look briefly at J Scott Smart (left) who was himself a “fat man” and strongly advocated for the portrayal to make people more sympathetic toward people of size.  He claimed he never felt fat.  Smart was a veteran stage actor who also was on radio prior to his taking on the role of Runyon. An interesting man with an interesting voice.

Music under is Charlie Haden Quartet performing Billy Strayhorn’s Passion Flower.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 251 – Night Beat

Frank LovejoyA revisit to the “journalist as detective” series, Night Beat.  The series was much more than simply a detective-style series.  It was a dramatic look at the microcosm of individuals who lived in the night in a large city.  Certainly with noir-ish elements, my fascination with the series is how each character is so well defined as flawed individuals who for various reasons have chosen to live in the shadows.

This time a look at one of my favorite episodes – “Julie, the Jukebox Girl.” Just like there were people hired in the forties to constantly state the time every fifteen seconds, there were also women who would actually interact with purchasers of musical tunes to which they could listen. This was before the devices with individual recordings would be within the box itself.  These were telephonically transmitted through the device after requesting it through a microphone built into the box.

This episode affords a good example of what the series was about.

Music under is Sidney Kyte and his Orchestra playing “Guilty” sung by the 3 Ginx – a British Dance band from the thirties.

Bob Bailey on screen

3 actors who played radio detectivesOutside of radio, Bob Bailey of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar fame did appear in movies occasionally. A somewhat obscure film from 1944 called The Eve of St. Mark in which Bailey portrays Cpl. Tate. He can be seen in this video clip which I’ve joined together with another from earlier in the film. His voice is distinctive and you should recognize him.

I am also including a still shot from the same film in which actors who portrayed radio detectives also appeared in the film. Can you find them? In the foreground right is Harry Morgan who was on Dragnet, to his right is Bailey who was Johnny Dollar, and in the rear slightly left of center is Vincent Price, who was the Saint.

Click below to view the film clip. Bailey is the poker player on the left and later the guy shouting orders.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 250 – The Saint

Leslie CharterisWith the publication of a new book – The Saint on Radio by Ian Dickerson, I take another look at this “Robin Hood of Modern Crime.” Some newer information comes to light with this publication.

A creation of writer Leslie Charteris (left), The Saint was possibly the only fictional character to be featured in virtually every entertainment media: from film, radio, television to comic books.

Some have determined their were possibly five iterations of the character of Simon Templar over the course of the books. I look at how those iterations fit into the radio character and spend some time on the 1995 British version.

Thanks to Neville Teller and Jeffrey Richards. Clip from The Saint Overboard, copyright BBC, 1995.

Music under is British Dance Band music including:

Roy Fox & His Orchestra – Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries – vocal by Al Bowlly

Sidney Kyte & His Orchestra – Guilty – vocal by The 3 Ginx



Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 249 – Calling All Cars

Sgt. Jesse Rosenquist Police Radios were a new technology in the 1920s, and by 1933 were pretty much a technology that had definitely improved the ability of the police to combat crime more effectively. Radio Drama loved the new technology as it opened up new ideas in the depression years to improve the image of police versus the criminals. Mythic criminals such as Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde found the police on the less popular side as media made profits glorifying the exploits of these criminals. The police radio would figure largely in helping break down that mythic wall as it became much clearer that the likes of Dillinger and others were really just killers at best.

Calling All Cars had one recurring character and he was a real life one – Jesse Rosenquist (right) is the actual police dispatcher heard at the beginning of each episode. This podcast will look at how the series impacted the cultural aspect of society.

Music under is Beethoven’s Trio in D Major, the Allegretto.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 248 – Sorry, Wrong Number

Agnes Moorehead at microphoneFor fans of old time radio, Sorry, Wrong Number with Agnes Moorehead (right) is one of the best dramas to listen to. After all, it was repeated on Suspense due to popular demand eight times; but as a radio drama, it is also a finely crafted, well executed piece of radio production ever heard and perhaps a lesson to those who want to produce audio drama.  While she is essentially, the only character (there are other voices in small roles), there is also a hidden character in the sound effects.  What will be immediately apparent is the lack of musical bridges as the sound effects carry this production heightening the tension instead of the music.

I examine this production and also mention the blooper that occurs at the end of this particular broadcast. It is an episode worth a listen.

Music under is Matthew Stone playing solo sax on Cry Me a River.

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