Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 104 – Adventures of Sam Spade

Howard DuffThis week I bring to a close the look at the influence of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade on radio detectives. You’ll hear a rarer heard Adventures of Sam Spade from the first season ABC Radio network run in 1946. This series also starred Howard Duff (right) and is the only existing audio copy known from that season. These were generally superior versions thanks to the writing talent of Bob Tallman and Jo Eisinger and though no copies exist, eight of Hammett’s actual works are adapted into stories from Hammett’s own publication also called The Adventures of Sam Spade.

Music under is from the Tony Marino Project called “Take Me Tonight” from the Podshow Music Network.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 103 – Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: Who Took the Taxis

Charles RussellA look at a sort of a six degrees of separation around Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and various radio programs which seemed directly or indirectly influenced by the hardboiled detective. By early 1949, Gil Doud and Bob Tallman left the Adventures of Sam Spade. Doud became the writer for a new radio detective series – Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar starring Charles Russell. Doud created some radio scripts that bore distinct Sam Spade themes in the creation of his new radio detective character. Portions of the characterizations in this podcast radio play were almost a steal from Hammett’s Maltese Falcon.

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Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 102 – Suspense: Two Sharp Knives

Stuart ErwinA continued look at our twisted six degrees of separation as I look at radio detectives connected to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. This week a look at Hammett’s own short story adapted for radio on Suspense. Stuart Erwin (right) plays a police lieutenant who like Hammett’s Continental Op rises above the corruption of police authority to solve the crime. A well written play by the great mystery writer, John Dickson Carr.

Music under is “Grover’s Tune” by Excellent Adventure from the Podshow Music Network.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 101 – Suspense: The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Keenan WynnI return from my recent hiatus with a look over the next few weeks at radio detectives that have some connection to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. This podcast begins with a look at a story from writer and scripter Jo Eisinger, whose book The Walls Came Tumbling Down was adapted into a radio play for the radio series Suspense. Listen to the podcast to find out what the connection is to Sam Spade! This episode starred a young and upcoming Keenan Wynn (right).

Music under is by Oscar Peterson.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 100 – Night Beat & Broadway Is My Beat

Frank Lovejoy100th podcast of this series! This week I want to return to two series with detective elements as well as what I call radio noir aspects in their productions. A special double-header focusing on the writing, the darkness and the pulse of two of the better radio series with crime detection themes. Night Beat with its gravel-voiced character played by Frank Lovejoy (right) and its use of darkness through the writing and images and Broadway Is My Beat with its haiku-style narration, dark jazzy undertones and layered sound effects both combine to create a sizzingly summertime and dark feel to the big city “beat.” Both of these series were excellent examples of evoking the dark side of city life.

The two series were both from the early fifties, a time when film noir was at its height. It was the beginning of the cold war; it was a time of spies and communists under every rock. People were edgy – after all, they had survived a world war and were now in an undeclared one – Korea. Yet it was also a time of great prosperity for the United States.

This will be my last podcast for a few weeks as I take a break to recharge!

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 99 – The Big Story

Ernest ChappellThe reporter as investigator! This series was based upon real-life incidents in which a newspaper reporter played an important part in solving a crime. The reporter was presented with the Pall Mall Award at the end of the show. These reporters showed the best side of their investigative skills – something shared by the radio detectives featured in this podcast series. The series began in April 1947 sponsored by the American Tobacco Company, which made Lucky Strike and Pall Mall Cigarettes. While the series was anthologized with no single starring actor, it did feature a regular announcer – Ernest Chappell (right) who would later be heard on the Wyllis Cooper series, Quiet, Please.

The idea developed from an article written in Newsweek and read by producer Bernard Prockter. He envisioned a program in which real stories would be dramatized and star an actor portraying the reporter who helped solve the crime he was reporting. It would follow a more real approach, though truncated, on the reporter looking at bits and pieces of evidence from the crime and doing some investigative reporting and ultimately coming up with some fact that helps break the case or solves it.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 98 – Tales of the Texas Rangers

Joel McCreaA detective serial of the modern southwest. What Dragnet was to Los Angeles, this serial is to Texas. Starring Joel McCrea as Ranger Pearson, the series takes place in the thirties and focuses on the CSI style investigations of crimes as Pearson guides his men and himself through the maze of investigation of crime. When I first heard of the radio series Tales of the Texas Rangers years ago, I thought it was a western series based in the historic old west. Obviously, never having heard it, I soon discovered it was in fact a modern detective series that mostly took its queue from Jack Webb’s Dragnet series.

Historically, the Texas Rangers were a policing organization formed by Stephen Austin in the 1800’s to mostly protect the land from Indians and outlaws. Their “beat” was 260,000 square miles of Texas and as the opening of the radio series describes, they were “the oldest law enforcement body in North America.”

Music under is Coyote Moon by Ben Tavera King.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 97 – Dimension X: Untitled Story

George PetrieThis week a detective story that comes from within the genre of science fiction! Based upon a story by science fiction author Frank M. Robinson, this radio version from Dimension X is very much a hardboiled detective story, but with science-based concepts. Starring George Petrie (right) who could have played a very good Johnny Dollar. A hardboiled detective story but with time travel implications!

The story was written while Robinson was in the Navy aboard a ship in Korea. He sent the story into Astounding Science Fiction magazine expecting the editor, John W. Campbell to give it a title since he had none. Instead, Campbell published it as “Untitled Story” in September 1950.

George Lefferts’ adaptation gives the play the feel of the hard-boiled detective story. Don Hayssen, the detective, played by Petrie, who might have made a good Johnny Dollar, plays the role in a straight-hard-boiled tough guy way.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 96 – The Adventures of Leonidas Witherall

Walter Hampden Something a bit different in radio detectives. The Adventures of Leonidas Witherall was a WOR Mutual amateur radio detective in 1944. He is the headmaster of a New England school and an expert on William Shakespeare. These episodes were a bit lighter in tone than many of the detectives but probably in keeping with other detectives at this period on radio. Star of the series was distinguished stage actor, Walter Hampden (right).

The series was based upon the writings of mystery author Phoebe Atwood Taylor, a New England mystery writer who had a penchant for using strange character names in her books. The Witherall tales were writer under the pen name of Alice Tilton. Leonidas Witherall was a headmaster of Meredith Academy who lived alone in his Boston suburb along with his housekeeper and confidant, Mrs. Mullet.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 95 – Adventures by Morse II

Carlton E. MorseThis week parts 2 & 3 of our look at a somewhat different group of detectives. Adventures by Morse is about Captain Bart Friday and Skip Turner, two detectives who are born more out of the pulp traditions than the hardboiled school. Carlton E. Morse (right) created these series of adventure-mysteries. You’ll hear part two & three of three this week.

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