The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

5Sep/150

Audio Drama Review: The Reification of Hans Gerber

The Reification of Hans Gerber is an original Sherlock Holmes audio drama written in the twenty-first century. However, if you weren't familiar with the Doyle canon, you'd be hard pressed to know that this was written by Doyle himself.

The plot captures the feel and atmosphere of Holmes without retreading over old ground. Holmes is called in to investigate the death of a wealthy man who left behind three nephews and a niece who expect to inherit until the will disappears, then one man is set to inherit. At first, it's the eldest cousin, but a disowned relative named Hans Gerber emerges to claim the estate. It appears he's out for more than the old man's money when one of the cousins is murdered. The mystery is thoroughly engaging from start to finish.

Nicholas Briggs turns in his usual superb performance as Holmes, and Richard Earl plays Watson perfectly in the Edward Hardwicke tradition. One of the reasons the story feels so authentic is the amount of narration and description involved and Earl is a superb narrator. The other outstanding performance was Terry Malloy who plays Inspector Bainbridge, a police inspector who shows an amazing amount of competence.

It's hard to overstate how much I enjoyed this. Pastiches so often fail to capture the feel of the original or are so busy inserting modern sensibilities and personalities into the story that they feel out of place. The authenticity of the story is outstanding. It's tour de force  in writing, acting,  and production values.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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4Sep/150

EP1670: Dragnet: The Big Chance

Jack Webb

Friday and Romero search for a missing police officer.

Original Air Date: August 24, 1950

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Mail a donation to: Adam Graham, PO Box 15913, Boise, Idaho 83715

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4Sep/150

EP1669: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Midnite Sun Matter

Bob Bailey

Johnny goes to Alaska to investigate a mine endangered by a moving  glacier and finds himself piloting a plane full of TNT.

Original Air Date: May 25, 1958

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3Sep/150

EP1668: Nick Carter: The Case of the Unexpected Corpse

Lon Clark

Nick Carter stops over in a Texas town where he's drawn into an investigation of the death of a wealthy man with a transient as the prime suspect.

Original Air Date: June 13, 1948

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2Sep/153

EP1667: Philip Marlowe: The Angry Eagle

Gerald Mohr

Marlowe is called by a fight manager to keep his fighter from getting into trouble.

Original Air Date:April 18, 1950
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1Sep/150

EP1666: Ellery Queen: The Three Frogs

Howard Culver

Nikki hides a young gang member, trying to help him.

Original Air Date: April 29, 1948

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31Aug/150

EP1665: The Saint: Peter the Great

Tom Conway
The Saint is called in by a fifteen-year-old girl who needs his help with her father's horse.

Original Air Date: June 24, 1951

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30Aug/150

EP1664s: Lux Radio Theater: To the Ends of the Earth

Dick Powell

Narcotics Commissioner Michael Barrows (Dick Powell) witnesses a Japanese sea captain throwing 100 slaves overboard to cover up a narcotics ring. Barrows is determined to get justice and sets out on a globe trotting adventure to break the ring and capture the murderous captain.

Original Air Date: May 23, 1949

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29Aug/150

Movie Review: Smart Blonde

In the 1930s, a lot of detective movie series were made, particularly as "B" features. The Torchy Blane series was notable for featuring a female lead.

The first film in the series is Smart Blonde which was released in 1937 and introduced Torchy (played by Glenda Farrell) and her hotheaded boyfriend Police Lieutenant Steve McBride (Barton Maclane). It centers around the owner of a night club and several sports establishments wanting to sell out and live an honest life with his fiancee.  He's run his businesses honestly and called in a friend who'll keep them honest to buy his businesses. However, when the would-be buyer is killed, Torchy sets out to solve the case.

The beginning of the film is one of the best character introductions you'll see in a "B" movie. It used the era's trope of newspaper headlines to reveal Torchy Blane wrote big stories, hard news stories, front page stories, and then immediately we have Torchy speeding up in the back a cab which drives up near a moving train which she then jumps on to. Really, with her saying very little, the film establishes Torchy as this intrepid, no-nonsense reporter.

She's a fascinating character and Glenda Farrell plays her beautifully with a mix of charm and pure grit, determination, and energy. The film moves at a very fast clip.  Smart Blonde clocks in at fifty-nine minutes, so it's got a short time to unravel its mystery, but it does with snappy dialogue and a plot that doesn't slow down much at all.

The story isn't a screwball comedy, as so many early detective features were, but it is played for comedy and perhaps at times a bit overplayed. Steve McBride is a comic relief cop in the mold of Captain Street form the Mister Wong movies and he has an even more comical cop as his chauffeur and sidekick.  Some of the comedy is weak and there are unintentionally funny aspects of the film such as the costuming department had policemen in one scene wearing an entirely style of uniform from policemen in another. And of course, there's a little bit of underworld sentimentality mixed in.

Still, it's a fascinating bit of B-movie making that's a cut above most B-films, particularly in this era. It gives Farrell and Maclane the opportunity to play the leads and the result is a fun and pleasing hour of entertainment that should dispel the idea that a "B" movie automatically means a "bad" movie.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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29Aug/150

EP1664: Dragnet: The Big Youngster

Jack Webb
Friday and Smith investigate a case of vandalism against a young lawyer.

Original Air Date: August 17, 1950

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