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

30Jun/120

Telefilm Review: Peril at End House

Peril at End House was the first adaptation of a Poirot novel done as part of ITV’s Poirot series. The program aired January 7, 1990 ahead of the second series of 60 minute Poirot episodes.

Poirot and Hastings are on vacation when they encounters Nicki Buckley (Polly Walker), who had a series of accidents including a nearly fatal car accident. While she is talking to Poirot, she complains of a buzzing wasp. However, after she leaves, Poirot finds a bullet, which convinces Poirot that Nick is in deadly peril.

They journey to her inherited estate of End House, a beautiful home that Nick loves but can’t afford maintain. They find it inhabited by some characters of questionable motives. In addition, she has a lawyer cousin in town who could also be another suspsect. Poirot finds more intrigue and determines that Nick needs protected and Nick calls for her nearly identical cousin to be her protect. However, when the cousin is killed, Poirot realizes the case has escalated. Poirot has to find out who wants Nicki dead and why in order to prevent another tragedy.

Peril at End's House is an intriguing ystery. While not completely unique, it is different than most whodunits as Poirot begins to work to preempt the murder.  Peril at End House twists and turns quite a bit before reaching its conclusion. The story is cleverly told with the usual supply of red herring. David Suchet is solidly supported by the regular cast of the series including Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Phillip Jackson (Inspector Japp), and Pauline Moran (Miss Lemmon).

If there's any criticism at all of the telefilm is too obviously a TV movie.  While later Poirot movies look and feel like they could have been shown in theaters with their rich colors and luscious cinematography, you have no doubt that Peril at End House was a made for TV movie. The DVD release makes this painfully obvious by leaving in the "To be continued..." frame that was aired when the film ran in reruns as a two episode. To this end, it also includes a somewhat absurd scene where Poirot has to explain every detail of the case they've been investigating to Captain Hastings in order to stop Hastings from walking off to go play golf. Hastings may not be the brightest sidekick but come on. Give me a good old fashioned, "Previously on Poirot..." any day.

However, Peril at End House was a good pick for the first ITV Poirot adaptation of the novel. It allowed the cast and crew to dip their toe into  longer adaptations without any of the expensive demands that would come with a much larger project like Murder on the Orient Express. Peril at End House is a telefilm that leaves you wanting more. Good news is that it delivered much more.

Rating 4.0 out of 5.0

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30Jun/120

EP0700s: Lux Radio Theater: Captain Carey USA

Charlton Heston

A former O.S.S. Officer returns to Italy to locate the person who betrayed him and his compatriots to the Nazis.

Original Air Date: February 2, 1953

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29Jun/120

EP0700: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Amida Buddha Matter

John Lund
Johnny investigates the death of a young newlywed which appears at first to be arson and then tied to a rare Buddha statue found in Korea.

Original Air Date: September 29, 1953

 

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28Jun/122

EP0699: Sherlock Holmes: The Frightened Bookkeeper

Sherlock Holmes is on the trail of a bookkeeper accused of killing a blackmailer, but did the bookkeeper do it?

Original Air Date: October 3, 1948

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27Jun/120

EP0698: Let George Do It: Sabotage

Bob Bailey
George goes to South America to stop sabotage at tin mines that's hampering America's war effort.

Original Air Date: April 23, 1951

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26Jun/120

EP0697: Pete Kelly’s Blues: Zelda

Jack Webb

The ex-wife of Kelly's record producer asks him to ask the producer for an old record.  Trouble follows.

Original Air Date: September 5, 1951

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25Jun/120

EP0696: Barrie Craig: Confession to Murder

William Gargan

Barrie arrests a boy for trying to mug him. When the boy confesses to an unsolved robbery and murder,  Barrie seeks to clear him.

Original Air Date: May 5, 1955

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24Jun/120

MP3 Download Review: The Very Best of Song

Recently, I was at a Doctor’s office and on TV was America’s Got Talent was on. Over a montage of auditions, the voice of Jimmy Durante was heard singing, “If You’re Young at Heart.”

Even though he’s been dead more than 30 years and hasn’t performed in nearly 40, Durante remains one of the most enduring and endearing characters of the golden age. His unique musical styling includes ragtime and vaudeville songs mixed with heartfelt renditions of songs such as, “As Times Goes By” which helped to set the tone for the 1990s hit, Sleepless in Seattle.

Listening to old time radio programs, you’ll stumble onto Durante singing one of his songs such as, “Inka a Dinka Doo” and many of his songs can be found on YouTube. However, I decided I wanted to have a collection of essential Durante songs on my Ipod and the best value I could find was a 2010 collection called, The Very Best Songs.

The 35 track collection does a great job of covering Durante's varied career. It includes most of Durante's most well-known recordings hits from the late 1950s and 60s including "When Time Goes By", "Make Someone Happy", "Hello Young Lovers," "Young at Heart," and "September Song."  It also includes "Inka Dinka Doo" and "Frosty the Snowman." In addition, the CD features several high quality audio encodes of radio and television appearances,  so the program also features   Jimmy singing on various tracks with Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, and his old Vaudeville partner Eddie Jackson.  In addition, the CD includes a couple of rare 1950s commercial releases that were done with Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, and Jane Wyman singing the ever catchy "Black Strap Molasses" and "How D'ye Do And Shake Hands." These two hilariously catchy earworms are worth relistening to.

The tracks are  a showcase of Durante's warmth and talent.  Durante's interaction with Crosby was priceless and he nearly cracked Jolson up on, "The Real Piano Player." He and Bob Hope played very well off one another in, "The Boys with the Proboscis." At the same time, Durante's genuine kindness and humanity comes through and makes his performance of  "September Song"  and "Try a Little Tenderness" particularly poignant.  Others such as "Bill Bailey", "Can Broadway Do Without Me?" and "Chicabee-Ch-Ch" were stirring and delightful.

The collection is not without issues (none of which has to do with Durante's singing). Track 26 is listed as "Quick Step" but is really another version of "Bill Bailey." "Make Someone Happy" is on the CD twice and the last track while listed as, "Start Off Each Day with a Song" but is really an extended duet between Crosby and Durante including portions of three songs. ("Surrender, Bing the Well Dressed Man, and Blue Skies.") This means the CD lacks, "Start off Each Day With a Song" which was Durante theme for many years over radio.  Also MIA are, "Jimmy the Well-Dressed Man" and "Good Night." One odd track is a twenty second clip of Durante's performance on a famous episode of Command Performance as "The Mole." There's also a track with Bing Crosby singing, "Never in a Million Years" with no Durante.

Still, these are minor issues. For $8.99, the collection is a great deal and a great way to start a collection of the Schnozolla's greatest hits.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

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23Jun/120

Book Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles marked Sherlock Holmes return to literature after he was killed off by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in “The Final Problem” eight years previously. Doyle had not yet brought Holmes back to life. This story was set prior to “The Final Problem.”

Sir Henry Baskerville is the heir of his late uncle Charle’s Estate. However, his uncle passed away under mysterious circumstances and one of Sir Charles’ friends, Dr. James Mortimer comes to Holmes to ask for assistance. Local legend is that Sir Charles was killed by a ghostly hound that haunts the moor to avenge the sins of one of the Baskerville ancestors. Mortimer confides to Holmes that he found a hound’s footprint at the scene of the death.

Intrigued, Holmes takes the case, and the case gets more interesting when Holmes spots a man following them inLondonand someone steals one of Sir Henry’s boots. Surprisingly, Holmes doesn’t go to Dartmoor, but sends Watson to investigate and report his finding to Holmes.

Watson find strange goings on: suspicious-acting servants, a dangerous convict on the moor, and of course, the legend of the hound.

This remains perhaps the most oft retold Holmes story and a pioneering mystery story that has been ripped off repeatedly over the years. While its a Holmes story, with Holmes absent from the main action for about half the book, it gives Watson a chance to shine and show his intelligence and resourcefulness.

Despite its popularity, I didn’t enjoy this as much as The Sign of Four. However, this is a matter of taste. Sign of Four was an action packed thriller while Hound of the Baskervilles relied much more on a build up of suspense. This one builds slowly and in a less skillful hand, it would have been easy for The Hound of the Baskervilles to become boring, but Doyle sensibly used Watson’s reports to Holmes and Watson’s diary entries to avoid bogging the story.

Overall, the Hound of the Baskervilles deserves its reputation as a true detective fiction classic.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.00

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22Jun/120

EP0695: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Lester Matson Matter

John Lund
Johnny investigates the arson of a $1 million factory.

Original Air Date: September 8, 1953

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