Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 277 – Escape: Finger of Doom

Harry Bartell Writer and critic Anthony Boucher was assembling short stories from current mystery writers in 1945 for a collection he was calling Great American Detective Stories and wanted to include one from mystery and noir writer Cornell Woolrich. Boucher chose for his collection, the Woolrich story called “Finger of Doom” which first appeared in Argosy magazine in 1940; one of only three the author provided to them that year. Woolrich biographer, Francis Nevins, referred to the story as one of the author’s “Annihilation classics,” by which he refers to a story involving someone appearing then disappearing unexplainably without a trace.

The radio adaptation was heard over both Suspense and Escape. The one from Escape is a much sparser adaptation of the story and one I liked much more. Some of the adaptation seems to have taken some parts from the original Suspense adaptation, but the characters are trimmed down and toned down. Harry Bartel stars as Kenny and also carries the burden of narration effectively.

Music under is “I’ll Be Seeing You” performed by the Sonny Stitt Quartet.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 276 – Philip Marlowe – Trouble Is My Business

Van Heflin Raymond Chandler’s early writing career was mainly as a poet and essayist for several publications while living in the United Kingdom. But Chandler was not happy with it and returned to the U.S. to become an accountant. After being wounded in the trenches of France, he returned to the U.S. hoping to take up writing. Instead he hired on with an oil company where he worked until 1932 after being fired for his drinking, womanizing and depression. He began to write again and published his first pulp detective story in Black Mask magazine in December 1933 in “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot” featuring his first detective Mallory

By his third detective story, Chandler switched to the first person and changed the name of his detective to Carmady – not to be confused with another Chandler detective, Ted Carmady. Carmady was a rough early blueprint for Philip Marlowe. But he had a short life when a new character appeared in the form of John Dalmas. He was a slightly rougher Philip Marlowe though many of Marlowe’s characteristics can be seen in the author’s Dalmas detective run and some critics feel his is a fully-fleshed Marlowe.

Dalmas first appeared in the pulp magazine Dime Detective after they wooed Chandler from Black Mask with a better paying gig. You can hear a Marlowe version of John Dalmas in the first radio iteration of Philip Marlowe in the story: “Trouble Is My Business.” The Dime Detective story features the detective as Dalmas, while the radio version features him as Marlowe. “Trouble Is My Business” was the last of the Dime Detective short stories and like the others more full featured and plotted than the radio adaptation by Milton Geiger.

Music under is Dee Dee Bridgewater singing “Angel Eyes.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 275 – Escape – Crossing Paris

Marcel Ayme Every so often while listening to various crime radio episodes, I come across one that just really holds my attention and surprises me with a fuller, denser episode that makes listening to it a real pleasure. Such was the case when I listened to an episode of Escape called “Crossing Paris” from 1950. It is a strongly character driven story that wasn’t apparently originally intended as a crime-oriented piece, but more fanciful somewhat comedic work of fiction.

The episode was adapted from a short story by an early to mid-twentieth century French writer – Marcel Ayme. The author had a huge following and is well-loved in France today for his stories even though his politics were very anti-French. Much of his work is often classified as Fantasy though the stories are only just so. The fictional story this radio play is based on was actually called La Traversée de Paris when published and was turned into a film of the same name but distributed in the United States as Four Bags Full in 1956 with emphasis on the comedic aspect of the story. The Escape radio version took a more serious tone but with a bit of whimsy also. What struck me about this drama is how careful the dialogue is in driving the story forward along with the strong performances especially by William Conrad as the artistic painter.

If you are a fan of Marcel Ayme’s fiction, you might check out The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls, a delightful French fantasy story that is perhaps his best.

Music under is by Oscar Schuster.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 274 – Escape: I Saw Myself Running

Georgia Ellis Antony Ellis, a remarkable writer as well as producer his work is found all over Suspense and Escape especially. Being an ex-pat Englishman, he also produced and wrote the John Dehner vehicle Frontier Gentleman, which chronicled the adventures of one J.B. Kendall, writer for the London Times, as he moved around the old west.

Ellis seemed often taken imaginatively into studies of the human psyche and produced some pretty fabulous suspense thrillers as a result. One in particular is featured with this podcast. Written by Ellis, it was first produced by him for the radio series Escape, and then later re-used in the series Suspense. The play is titled “I Saw Myself Running” and the Escape version, featured here, starred Ellis’ own real life spouse, Georgia Ellis in the role of Susan. The Suspense version featured a less emotional Charlotte Lawrence.

It is a sort of existential story about a woman who in a recurring dream encounters herself as a separate person called Sue. Sue is portrayed by actress Sammie Hill, Sammie Hillwhose voice is younger more girlish in tone but who is frightened by some unknown in the dream and welcomes the appearance of Susan. It is well performed by Georgia Ellis, who is primarily known as Kitty in the radio version of Gunsmoke, a role that rarely displayed her acting chops.

 

 

Music under is the theme from The Postman Always Rings Twice performed by Jazz at the Movies.

 

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 273 – Dead Man Control

Helen ReillyOne of the best radio mystery series in the 1940s was the Crime Club which based its plays upon stories written by actual crime writers of the times. These were writers whose works were part of the Doubleday Crime Club imprints in the forties and were usually cracker crime stories.

The Mutual Broadcasting System snapped up a radio package offered by Doubleday and began airing adaptations from the imprint in December 1946. Most of radio plays were adapted by scripter Stedman Coles with sometime help by Wyllis Cooper and James Earthine. In March 1947 the series final year, an adaptation of a story by mystery and crime writer Helen Reilly was aired. The story was based on her novel Dead Man Control. Reilly’s novels were mostly police procedurals but sometimes with a bit of pulp in the characters.

Reilly’s primary protagonist was itinerant detective Inspector Christopher McKee. McKee was a Scottish New York City inspector who author Reilly described as a single-minded detective who relied his hunches as much as the scientific tools he used when working on crimes. He was direct in his questioning of potential suspects and never worried about their feelings.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 272 – The Thimble

Whitfield ConnorEleazar Lipsky was a lawyer and prosecutor in the Bronx and Manhattan until his death in 1993. In the 1940s he turned to writing novels and plays while maintaining his legal work. It was natural that most of his stories revolved around the courtroom and investigative attorneys. Probably his most famous novel was originally based upon a 100 page manuscript which became a film noir called Kiss of Death starring Victor Mature.

Lipsky wrote a number of other stories including a detective story centered around an investigator in The People Against O’Hara, which also became a film starring Spencer Tracy. Nearing the end of its long run on radio, the thriller series Suspense adapted a story by Lipsky called “The Thimble.” The story was adapted by Allan Sloane who went on to write extremely sensitive scripts for television earning him several Emmys and Peabody awards.

Given that this script came from a medium that was in its death throes in 1959, it is fast paced and holds listeners in leading up to the crime resolution. The District Attorney was played by Whitfield Connor, whose authoritarian voice works well in this story.

The radio play has a somewhat surprising ending on how the crime is committed.

Music under is created and performed by Oskar Schuster

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 271 – Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper

Robert Bloch This podcast offering is only tangentially a detective story of sorts. It does involve investigations by individuals, potential suspects, potential crimes, and a resolution of sorts. And like many of my features, it comes based upon a short story. The story is from the sometimes strange mind of writer Robert Bloch. Bloch is probably best known among the public at large as the writer of the story upon which the classic Hitchcock film, Psycho, is based.

In 1943 Bloch published “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” one of the author’s first unique stories and not an imitation of H.P. Lovecraft, whom he had admired since before his writing days. Previously, his stories were mostly imitations of Lovecraft’s style.

In 1945, the story was adapted and aired over the Molle Mystery Theater, but like much of this series audio, it is only available via the Armed Forces Radio’s Mystery Playhouse. The adaptation is relatively faithful for the first 20 minutes, then creates a completely different final scene to end it. Unfortunately, if you have read the original story which appeared in Weird Tales in July 1943, there is a sort of third act to this story and possibly the best written scene in the whole story, in my opinion. The third major scene takes place in a seedy bar on a cold, foggy November night in Chicago’s south side, wonderfully described by author Bloch. You can read the original story online by going to the link below.

Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper in Weird Tales

The music under is from the series Twin Peaks and is written by Angelo Badalamenti called “Fire Walk With Me”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 270 – The Man in the Velvet Hat

Bernard Lenrow In the introduction to Jerome and Harold Prince’s first detective short story, editors Ellery Queen called the piece a “strange, strange story.” The story was called “The Man in the Velvet Hat” and it became the best known of the writing duo who continued to publish occasionally in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

In the introduction, the authors wrote to the editor: “…we think we owe a good deal to the motion picture. For the motion picture is able to create a mood of unreal reality by means of quick, sharp, shifting images (rapid cross-cutting). We have utilized the same technique.”
Ellery Queen added “Slowly, increasingly, inexorably, this frankly experimental technique will get under your skin, and in the end you will possess and be possessed with such a long lingering memory of the man in the velvet hat.”

In 1944, the story was adapted for radio for the Molle’ Mystery Theater via the Mutual Broadcasting System. That original episode is not available, but it was captured via the Armed Forces Service for its Mystery Playhouse. The version attempts to catch some of the style created by the authors by being rather fast paced trying to squeeze the overall plot within a 30 minute timeframe. The host of the Molle Mystery Theater was Bernard Lenrow (left) who portrayed Geoffrey Barnes. You won’t hear him in this episode, but he remained host for a few years.

Music under is “Blind” performed by Train.

Lady Detectives on BBC Radio 4 Extra Redux

If you missed it when it was on BBC Radio 4 Extra last time in September 2011, this series is repeating on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Includes Valeria Woodville, Wilkie Collin’s lady sleuth; Violet Green in an Anna Green adaptation; L. Meade’s Florence Cusack and Catherine Pirkis’ Loveday Brooke.

All four are available immediately and will remain so for about 30 days.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00crbrs/episodes/player

[Thanks to albie for the head’s up. ]

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 269 – Mystery Is My Hobby

Glenn Langan Prior to and after the commercialization of radio, many people found entertainment in the many magazines and pulps which were ubiquitous at that time. By the time radio drama began to develop there were many short stories and serials from these magazines that were beginning to be picked up by radio. those with an interest in crime oriented subjects were enamored by lighter detective stories of S.S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance, Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. One element these detectives had in common is that they were urbane sophisticates working privately and often hired by wealthy clients. Their detective work bordered on a light touch to crime. Their circles were often urbane couples and lavish gatherings such as race tracks, society parties and so on.

One such series that was heard beginning in 1945 was Mystery Is My Hobby. This series eponymously demonstrated the amateur detective. The leading character was one Barton Drake, who was a popular and well-known crime writer who himself dabbled in solving crimes. The series is light enough in overall tone that it could have passed for a daytime drama. But such was the tastes of listeners born out of the stories they previously had read in the pulps and slicks of the day.

Expect a much lighter detective story as you listen to my Christmas offering – Boston for Christmas from Mystery Is My Hobby as heard over Mutual in 1947.

Music under is Oh Holy Night performed by Doug Boldt

1 2 3 4 5 26 27
%d bloggers like this: