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

31Mar/120

Audio Drama Review: Father Brown, Volume 3

In this Third Volume of the Father Brown Mysteries, Colonial Radio Theatre takes the stories from The Incredulity of Father Brown and the Scandal of Father Brown, two of the latter collection. Colonial an admirable job with the source material:

"The Oracle of the Dog": A man is killed in his summer house and the strange behavior of a dog is seen as a key clue. Colonial had to do some work on this story as an adaptation. In the original Chesterton story, Father Brown doesn't visit the scene of the crime, but rather solves the case based on clues given him by someone else. Thus, it came off as more of Chesterton's criticism of literary treatment of canines in murder mysteries. Thanks to Colonial, this story comes alive while still getting Chesterton's point across.

"The Miracle of Moon Crescent": In America, Father Brown warns four skeptics of that a well-known in millionaire is in danger after telling a story of his encounter with a superstitious Irishmen. They scoff at him, but when the millionaire is found murdered with no reasonable scientific or  psychological solution presents itself, the skeptics begin to doubt themselves and begin to consider a supernatural solution. J.T. Turner did a great job writing the adaptation and captured the subtleties of the satirical elements of the story. The only thing that marred this one was that the accents seemed quite a bit off. Still, a worthwhile presentation of a great story.

"The Green Man": A wealthy admiral is found murdered in full dress uniform by two golfers and it's a classic whodunit. The story begins in medias res with Father Brown speaking to one of the suspects before the final denoument, a kind of interesting twist. The story is standard whodunit fare handled quite capably by Colonial.

"The Quick One": A classic story of murder in a hotel bar of a a Tory curmudgeon. Father Brown insists that that the key to the case is finding an unknown man who stopped in for a drink and didn't even bother to finish it. (i.e. The quick one.) The mystery was well and faithfully adapted. A couple weeks ago, I criticized the British TV version for trying to mitigate Father Brown's views of the deceased as a heroic figure who was the one of the last men who could have saved England. Colonial avoided any revisionism in that regards. In one way, they actually improved on Chesterton with an edit. They moved a line that Father Brown delivered in the middle of the original story to the end when Father Brown was talking to his policeman companion on a train. Where it was originally written, it kind of seemed like rambling dictum that readers could easily pass over on their way to the solution. However, put at the end, it offers a vital explanation as to why a Priest would always be involving himself in Homicide investigations. This is probably the best Father Brown episode that Colonial's done so far.

Overall rating for the collection: 4.5

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30Mar/120

EP0635: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Oklahoma Red Matter

John Lund Johnny Dollar investigates a $65,000 claim for the death of a race horse.

Original Air Date: June 9, 1953

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29Mar/121

EP0634: Sherlock Holmes: The Empty House

Thought dead for three years, Holmes returns to track down the last member of Moriarty's gang.

Original Air Date: April 11, 1948

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28Mar/120

EP0633:Let George Do It: The Man Behind the Frame

Bob Bailey
George helps a young man on his first trip to the city who finds him in the middle of a murder investigation.

Original Air Date: January 8, 1951

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27Mar/120

EP0632:Hercule Poirot: Murder Wears a Mask

Hercule Poirot matches wits with a murderer who tries to frame a protective father for the murder of an actor.

Original Air Date: May 3, 1945

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26Mar/120

EP0631: Barrie Craig: Mid-Summer Lunacy

William Gargan

At a resort, Barrie is hired by a wealthy young woman to investigate a young man who claims to be wealthy too. Barrie finds both are frauds, but that's just the start of the case.

Original Air Date: August 17, 1954

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23Mar/120

We’ll Always Have Casablanca

On Wednesday, it was my pleasure to attend TCM 70th Anniversary screening of Casablanca at the Edwards 21 Cinema in Boise. It was the second time I'd seen Casablanca, but seeing it in theaters, the way it was originally intended was definitely a different experience.

I'd seen it about 9 years ago on VHS. Seeing it theaters was a different experience. There's so much depth and richness to the film. And just to see it as big as life on the screen, as it was originally intendeded, was incredible.

Casablanca is not a movie that you "review."  That'd be silly. Still some things are striking. Casablanca remain an idealistic movie that's still about real people dealing with real problems.

It's a big movie about big things and big decisions.  It's a movie where the ending wasn't written when the filming began, but it may have been the best and most profound endings a movie had.

While I appreciate radio's attempts to adapt Casablanca, this may be one classic film that loses quite a bit in the transition to audio format. One big thing I noticed was Bogart's facial expression. A single look from him spoke more than a hundred lines of dialogue. Perhaps, if you've seen it a dozen times, you can probably imagine it well enough, but Casablanca is one of those films that on a relatively low budget ($800,000) creates a cinema richness that's truly art.

The one thing radio could never duplicate is Bogart's face. Bogart's expressions communicate more than 200 pages of scripting could.   Particularly early on, when you watch him experience this pain of Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman)  return and dredging up all these memories, it's so real you can almost feel what Rick's going through Bogie's eyes.

Casablanca is like many films in having a lot of elements at work: adventure, romance, drama, and comedy.  However, what Casablanca does better than any other films I've seen is that it times them perfectly, so you're laughing one moment, drawn into the drama , and then laughing at some of the great comic relief moments and snappy lines.

I hope that Casablanca endures and that it's passed down to future generations as the wonderful American film that it is.

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23Mar/120

EP0630: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Costain Matter

John Lund

Johnny Dollar investigates a series of high priced shoplifting cases.

Original Air Date: June 2, 1953

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22Mar/120

EP0629: Sherlock Holmes: Lady Waverly’s Imitation Pearls

Holmes seeks to avoid embarrassment for a prominent family over the disappearance of imitation jewels.

Original Air Date: April 4, 1948

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21Mar/120

EP0628: Let George Do It: Opportunity Knocks Twice

Bob Bailey

A young man hires George to prove his uncle was murdered rather than having committed suicide.

Original Air Date: December 18, 1950

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