Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 264 – New Adventures of the Thin Man

d_hammett-posterizedPrior to either of the two series I featured over the last two podcasts, one which began as a single fictional story, moved to film, then radio, for the most part maintained the female lead role in pretty much the same fashion of the time. This was the Dashiell Hammett story titled “The Thin Man.” The role of women in forties drama was usually second class and while Nora Charles is bright and intelligent, she defers to her husband, Nicky, who though cocky is a brilliant detective.

The original story first appeared in Redbook Magazine in 1933 in serial form, was published as a novel in 1934 and would be the final novel Hammett would ever write again. Unless one is a follower of Hammett’s bibliography, you might not know that Hammett wrote an original “Thin Man” story in 1930 he never published. It was initially the same “Thin Man” story involving a missing scientist but much darker. No Nora, no Nick. The detective was named John Guild who had what biographer William Nolan calls “the businesslike Agency approach of the Continental Op and the ultra-coolness of Sam Spade.”

Music under is “My One and Only Love” performed by Art Tatum Group.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 263 – Adventures of the Abbotts

Claudia Morgan Part two of a look at Husband/Wife detective duos and the role women played in the dramas. The Adventures of the Abbotts was the model for the last podcast offering – It’s a Crime, Mr. Collins and the drama on the former is much meatier and overall better played. The scripts were written by Howard Merrill, a former actor and better writer than those on the latter series. The 1950s version (there was also a late forties version) starred Claudia Morgan (right) and Les Damon as Jean and Pat Abbott.

The role of women hadn’t changed much from the forties, though this series based upon Author Frances Crane’s Abbott novels in which Jean Abbott is the main protaganist, shows a little less silliness of character written for women.

Music under is by the Bill Evans Trio and is called “Young and Foolish.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 262 – It’s A Crime, Mr. Collins

Mandel Kramer

Mandel Kramer

In this podcast, I look at the role of husband/wife detectives and how radio treated the role of women within the world of radio drama and production. This is the first of several parts looking at various husband/wife detective series over the years of radio drama.

It’s A Crime, Mr. Collins debuted on American radio via the Mutual Broadcasting System in August 1956. Unfortunately, it was a short run ending in February 1957. But Mutual continued to broadcast an Australian version of the series. There appears to be no American version audio extant. The American version starred Mandel Kramer (left) as Greg Collins. The woman who portrayed Gail, his wife, is not known. The Australian version gives us a flavor of the American version, but it seems we won’t know how the other actually sounded unless audio appears.

Radio did not treat women well as attested through the situation involving one of the premier sound effects persons ever in radio drama – Ora Nichols. For more on this listen to http://cpa.ds.npr.org/kuow/audio/2014/04/20140417_ks_soundeffects.mp3.

Music under is Art Tatum playing My Ideal.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 261 – One Hundred in the Dark

Eric Dressler Here is a mystery play where no clues are given. Sometimes with “clueless mysteries” we can enjoy the story for the curiosity and not worry about the “who” or “whydunnit.” This is a good example of an attempt to solve a crime in which the reader or the listener is not given any clues to help solve the crime. In fact it seems the crime is not solved – or is it?

In 1913, Owen M. Johnson wrote a short story in which theories of what makes a good detective story are discussed followed by an example of one which focuses on the crime itself and not the solution. One Hundred in the Dark as heard over Suspense and adapted by Jack Anson Finke quite closely to the original story and which can be found online here.

One Hundred in the Dark starred film, radio and stage star, Eric Dressler (right) in the role as Peters/Harris.

Music under is the Alec Wilder Octet in two pieces: “The House Detective Registers” and “Walking Home in Spring.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 260 – The Cross-eyed Bear

Dorothy B. Hughes

Wanted: A beautiful girl. One not afraid to look on
danger’s bright face. Room 1000, The Lorenzo.

This simple advertisement in a newspaper begins one of Dorothy Belle Hughes (left) psychological thriller crime stories. Hughes, whose works are only recently finding resurgence being re-published by The Mysterious Press were written mostly in the forties of which this story was first published in 1940 as The Cross-eyed Bear Murders. Hughes preceded even Jim Thompson whose The Killer Within was considered a seminal psychological crime story. But Hughes, for seem reason, arced and seemed to have lost traction in the publishing world until recently.

Suspense adapted two of her stories, of which this one is from 1943. The adaptation leaves you wanting and I would recommend reading the original works by this fabulous crime writer.

Music under is the Bill Evans Trio performing Young and Foolish.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 259 – The Eleventh Juror

Vincent Starrett Vincent Starrett was a Chicago-based journalist and crime fiction writer in the early part of the 20th century. He was an intense bibliophile and became interested in all things Sherlockian writing what is probably one of the best pastiches of Holmes in 1920 called The Adventure of the Unique ‘Hamlet.’

It is Starrett’s other fiction that this podcast is concerned about. In 1927, Starrett wrote probably his best short story called “The Eleventh Juror” which some have called an “experimental mystery.” The original story is mostly arranged differently from the radio adaptation which was heard on the Molle Mystery Theater in April 1945. Whether you come to this story via the written word or the radio play, I think you’ll find it is unique in its approach and filled with fascinating plot twists.

Music under is Chopin’s Waltz No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 34, No. 2 performed by Janusz Olejniczak.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 258 – Eno Crime Clues

Stewart Sterling Eno Crime Clues is a good example of early radio detective stories from the earliest time of radio programming. Often there were very little or crude sound effects, somewhat thin plotlines and the acting was a bit stilted. These series definitely were not the sophisticated versions of later detectives such as Nick Carter, Nick Charles or Philip Marlowe. I always find them hard to listen to as the pacing is so slow.

But that said, they are still part of the radio history of detectives on radio and I am presenting it here for that reason. This series was after the original Eno Crime Club moved to NBC and the writing was picked up by Stewart Sterling (left), a pseudonym for Prentice Winchell, who also wrote occasionally for the pulps and later published a number of crime detective books. Sterling called this his “Manhunter” series featuring his detective Spencer Dean and his aid Dan Cassidy.

Music under is Annette Hanshaw singing “Say It Isn’t So” and “Body and Soul.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 257 – The Lady in the Morgue

Jonathan Latimer

Jonathan Latimer

Jonathan Latimer was an American crime writer who first was a reporter writing about the likes of Al Capone and Bugsy Moran for the Chicago Tribune and the Herald-Examiner. In the thirties he created a detective character called William Crane in a series of novels Latimer himself referred to as “half-boiled” as his stories were send ups of the likes of the hardboiled fiction of Hammett and Chandler.

This radio version of his story comes from the Molle Mystery Theater via the Armed Forces’ Mystery Playhouse. The radio version is much more a screwball than serious crime detection, though due to Latimer’s ability to create a serious crime story, it raises above a simple comedy.

Music under is Sidney Bechet and Bix Beiderbecke.

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.

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