Get this and get it straight...Crime is a sucker's game...
Tune into the detective broadcasts from the Golden Age of radio and the history behind them. Hear the actual radio broadcasts.
Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 278 – Richard Diamond, Private Investigator (Christmas show repeat)
It’s Christmas time and this week’s podcast is a special one! Eleven years ago, I featured this on the Radio Detective Story Hour. Staying in the vein of our detective theme, I present a variation on Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” with the puckish Dick Powell in his Richard Diamond hat.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 277 – Escape: Finger of Doom
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
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
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
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, whose 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
One 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.