Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 138 – Crime Classics

Elliott LewisFinally, I am back for a new podcast! Expanding the genre a bit to include crime in general, this week, a look at one of the better, but not so well known crime series in the fifties: Crime Classics. The series ran for 52 episodes only, but had the talents of Elliott Lewis (right) as producer/director, David Friedkin and Mort Fine, writers, and Bernard Herrmann as composer-conductor with live in studio musicians!

Music under is “Morning Passages” by Philip Glass and Michael Riesman from the film The Hours.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 137 – Cabin B-13

On June 23rd, 1948, CBS released a press statement entitled “Mysteries Circle the Globe: Cabin B-13 New Series by John Dickson Carr.” The location for the mysteries was built around the sailings of the passenger ship S.S. Maurevania. Each episode would be introduced by a Dr. Fabian, a world traveler and collector of strange and terrible tales of mystery and terror, as the opening described him. Events would occur at the port cities to which the ship sailed and at each one, Dr. Fabian would tell a mysterious story related to that city.

Music under is “All the Things You Are” performed by Andre Previn, Joe Pass and Ray Brown.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 136 – Devil in the Summer House

John Dickson CarrWhile in England, one of John Dickson Carr’s earliest plays was one called “Devil in the Summer House” which was originally envisioned as a two-parter, but eventually reduced to a one hour play. When Carr came back to the United States due to the war and his need to register for the draft, he re-wrote his one hour play into a half hour version for the Suspense radio series. “Devil in the Summer House”, even re-written into a half-hour play is very well produced, probably due to Dickson Carr’s desire to always create good radio.

Devil in the Summer House originally featured Carr’s private detective Gideon Fell, but he was excluded in this version. The role of Captain Burke fills Gideon’s shoes.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 135 – Women as Detectives

Detective fiction is full of examples of the woman-as-detective theme throughout its history. While the majority of the fictional detectives were men, there are flattering examples in which female sleuths regularly sought out clues and ultimately solved crimes.

In radio, on the other hand, female detectives were usually somewhat vacuous or treated with little respect. Radio did have its share of female sleuths, though many were either regional broadcasts or never really succeeded.

A look at one specific example of a woman in a detective role unintentionally as based on a Cornell Woolrich (right) story, “The Book That Squealed.”

Music under is Andre Previn/Joe Pass/Ray Brown: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 134 – Suspense

Warren WilliamThis week’s story looks at the fictional character created by Louis Joseph Vance – The Lone Wolf. In 1914, Vance wrote his first Lone Wolf mystery novel. His leading character was known as Michael Lanyard, but this apparently wasn’t his original name. In the first novel, published in 1914, a young boy is brought to stay with a family who give him the name Marcel Troyon.

In 1943, William Spier brought the first version of Michael Lanyard to radio over the mystery series Suspense in the radio play: Murder Goes For a Swim. The story was written specifically for the radio series though based loosely on the character more as he appeared in the many Lone Wolf films from the beginning of the 1940’s.

Music under is Grover’s Tune by Excellent Adventure.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar Premiers

On February 18th, 1949 – fifty years ago – one of the best loved radio detective series premiered over NBC starring Charles Russell as Johnny Dollar.  Russell only lasted a year and the series took a different tone with the next Dollar actor – Edmund O’Brien. That was a much darker tone with the sullen O’Brien seeming to find himself involved with murder more often. After O’Brien left to a growing film career, another future film actor, John Lund, stepped into the role.

It was Lund’s successor who really expanded the popularity when radio actor Bob Bailey became Johnny Dollar fresh from his role as George Valentine in Let George Do It.  Bailey stayed with the series until the early sixties when the series left Hollywood and moved back to New York.

You can hear more about the Johnny Dollar series in a podcast I did in Episode #68.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 133 – Night Beat

Frank LovejoyNight Beat was one of those radio series that came over the networks in the early fifties just as the medium was beginning to toll its death knell for dramatic network drama. Yet the quality of many of the shows from this period were some of the best produced by radio. This journalist as detective serial starring Frank Lovejoy, whose somewhat gravely, reedy voice was perfect as Randy Stone, ran for several years and evoked noirish themes as he traveled the big city of Chicago in search of stories of the lost souls who survived living in the dark. Well written, well acted, the series still retains its attractiveness as reporter Stone found himself embroiled in the lives of these lost souls and often crossed beyond the role of reporter into that of detective as he helped resolve the events which he encountered.

Music under is “Midnight in Chicago” by jjo.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 132 – Confession

Radio Detective Story HourConfession which premiered over the NBC radio network on July 5th, 1953 on Sunday evenings began with the announcer intoning “The Confession you are about to hear is an actual recording…” The whole concept was to create what appeared to be a real criminal reading their own confession. The confessions were true stories of crime and punishment made by the person about whom the week’s episode was focused. Everything was revealed in a reverse order from the normal story beginning with the confession and moving back in time to the crime.

It was certainly an intriguing idea…

Music under is “What Am I Here For?” performed by Andre Previn, Joe Pass & Ray Brown.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 131 – Philip Marlowe

Van HeflinA somewhat lengthy examination of the hard-boiled detective in radio and other media. I look at Carroll John Daly’s Race Williams, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op/Sam Spade, and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in the evolution of what a hard-boiled detective is.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 130 – The Big Guy

Henry CalvinThis week a rather obscure radio detective series from the very early fifties called The Big Guy. The series starred Henry Calvin (right) who is best known as Sgt. Garcia from television’s Zorro. While the opening of the episode makes the show sound light, the subject matter is very radio detective and for the most part enjoyable.

Music under is called “Grace” by the Shapiro Project.

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