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21Jun/110

EP0432: Rogue’s Gallery: The House of Fear

Dick Powell

Rogue is hired by an insurance company to investigate the theft of a priceless diamond. When the family refuses to cooperate, Rogue becomes suspicious.

Original Air Date: November 15, 1945

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20Jun/110

EP0431: Barrie Craig: Corpse on Delivery

William Gargan

Barrie is hired by a bailbondsman to find a racketeer who has threatened to skip town and leave the bondsman holding the bag for $50,000.

Original Air Date: October 31, 1951

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19Jun/110

The Redbook Dramas: A Review

Redbook Dramas

Redbook Magazine has evolved over the years. The modern Redbook is a woman's magazine, commonly sold in the checkout aisle with relationship and household stories featured prominently. In the early 30s, the magazine was a well-known publisher of short stories, and published a large number of female authors in what was a male-dominated field.

In 1932, Redbook's short stories came to the radio under the title  of The Redbook Dramas. Redbook was an early example of the magazine to radio format. Reader's Digest and others would eventually follow suit.

While more of a mixed bag than the Diamond Dramas, the Redbook Dramas still offer a decent quarter hour of entertainment. The stories feature range from adventures to romance, and even two fair detective stories make the cut.

Some of the better episodes:

A Pass to Peking:

A kindly school teacher smuggles a rickshaw driver on a train in a coffin, never knowing that he's a well-educated military officer trying to escape from his enemies.

Under the Midnight Sun:

A whodunit featuring an Eskimo amateur detective.

You Have to Have Something:

A story of a woman in vaudeville who wants to make her partnership more than just a professional arrangement, but is frustrated by her partner's interest in another woman.

Minister Wanted:

A good comedy-romance about an unlikely couple drawn together by being held by two desperate criminals.

There were lesser entries of course, "The Kid" was a little too unbelievable and the characters were not very relatable and "Lazy Bones" seemed just a little bit silly.  "England Will Stand" was not a favorite either and I felt more sympathy for the character they made out to be a buffoon than for the one who was supposed to be the hero, an advertising genius who stood firmly on the side of sex in advertising.

Beyond that, I should note that the ending of, "Anything You Want is Yours" was surprisingly suggestive for an OTR show, so parental discretion is advised.

Overall, there are far worse things that could be done with 15 minutes than sampling Redbooks Dramas.  19 episodes of the Redbook Dramas were collected by the Old TIme Radio Researchers and are available for download at the Internet Archive.

Photo courtesy of the Old Time Radio Researchers.

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18Jun/110

Book Review: The Rubber Band

The great thing about reading Nero Wolfe novels is you never quite know what to expect. The Nero Wolfe stories are a blend of hard-boiled stories as well as the genius/gentleman detective stories. The exact composition of the blend varies from book to book.

The Rubber Band is definitely closer to the cozy side of mysteries rather than the hardboiled detective story.  Published in 1936, it was the the third of the Nero Wolfe novels and came on the heels of much darker stories in Fer-de-lance and The League of Frightened Men.

The book begins with a corporate executive trying to engage Wolfe to investigate a theft of $30,000 in Cash. The person who has been fingered for the theft by the company's vice-president is the beautiful Miss Clara Fox.

However, Miss Fox also wants to engage Wolfe to help her claim money owed to her father and his partner. An English nobleman in America in the Old West faced hanging by vigilantes. A band of men led by a Mr. Rubber Coleman formed "the Rubber Band" which helped the nobleman escape the vigilantes in exchange for 1/2 of his fortune. Clara recognizes the nobleman who is now quite wealth,  and she calls for  all of her father's partners (except for Mr. Coleman who she can't find)  and their heirs to claim their share of the fortune from the nobleman who is now staying in New York. She offers Wolfe a cut to help her collect.

One of  her father's partners is killed after leaving the Brownstone to meet someone and the police want to question Clara Fox. Wolfe is determined to protect his client and hides her from the police.

This features the first appearance of Lieutenant Rowcliff, everyone's least favorite police detective who gets a search warrant to find Ms. Fox, but Wolfe manages to foil him in a classic set up. This book is full of fantastic characters: A British lord, corporate robber-barons, and an old cowboy among others.

Fox is the first woman to successfully charm Wolfe in the series, with Wolfe even reading Hungarian poetry to her. By the standard of future stories, Wolfe's reaction to her may be a bit bunch, but Stout was still getting a feel for the character when he wrote the Rubber Band.

The somewhat disappointing part of this story was Inspector Cramer. He was almost subserviant to Wolfe, and volunteered the fact that he liked Wolfe.  Clearly, it would take a few more books for Cramer to develop into the hardnosed belligerant cop that we all know and love.

However, for all the early hiccups in the series, The Rubber Band remains an enjoyable and well-paced mystery. In some points, its reminiscent of Agatha Christie stories as well as The Sign of Four. The mystery works out to a clever and satisfying conclusion.

It's a shame that this one wasn't made into a film like the first two books were. Both Fer-de-Lance and League of Frightened Men seemed like much more unlikely adaptations with their very convoluted plots. This one would have made a perfect 1930s mystery movie with the right cast.

Rating: Very Satisfactory

You can find all the Nero Wolfe books in Kindle, Audiobook, and book form on our Nero Wolfe page.

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17Jun/110

EP0430: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Fairway Matter

 

Edmond O'Brien

Johnny investigates a plane bombing that left more than dozen people dead.

Original Air Date: July 11, 1951

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16Jun/110

EP0429: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Carpathian Horror

Tom Conway

Holmes is hired by a count with a family history shrouded in mystery who fears he's going insane.

Original Air Date: April 14, 1947

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15Jun/110

EP0428: Let George Do It: The Floaters

Bob Bailey

On an urgent two a.m. call, George and Brooksie travel to a rundown hotel and find an apparent double suicide.

Original Air Date: January 23, 1950

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14Jun/110

EP0427: Rogue’s Gallery: Little Drops of Rain

Dick Powell

A beautiful woman hires Rogue to get her husband to help her get her husband to come back to her. They find her husband dead.

Original Air Date: November 7, 1945

Quote of the show: "I left Liza burning Like Mrs. O'Leary's barn."

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13Jun/110

The Nero Wolfe Movie that Guaranteed There Would be No More Nero Wolfe Movies

This is the first 7 minutes of the last of two Nero Wolfe Films,The League of Frightened Men (1937) which was a sequel to, "Meet Nero Wolfe" and was posted on YouTube by a company selling an out of print DVD.

Rex Stout decided not to allow any more movies to be made based on his books, displeased with Lionel Stander's portrayal of Archie Goodwin. The punchdrunk Archie Goodwin portrayal we see in the clip seems to justify the conclusion..

On both the level of the artist and of business, it's understandable why Stout didn't want to make any more films. If films like this made their way into the cultural bloodstream, it would have turned people off to the books. And these movies came very early in the Wolfe franchise.

Filed under: Nero Wolfe, Video No Comments
13Jun/110

EP0426: Barrie Craig: Microfilm in the Fishtank

William Gargan

When Barrie's tailor is killed and and a fire is set to the tailor's shop. TO find the murder, Barrie investigates the rackets.

Original Air Date: October 24, 1951

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