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

12Sep/120

EP0753: Let George Do It: The Bad Little God

Bob Bailey

George is hired by a man who bought an ugly Korean idol and is encountering all kinds of trouble over it.

Original Air Date: January 14, 1952

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11Sep/120

EP0752: The Fat Man: Twice Told Secret

J Scott Smart

A pawn ticket leads the Fat Man to a wealthy man who has difficulty getting his wedding to come off.

Original Air Date: February 11, 1946

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10Sep/120

Jimmy Durante: September Song

Sung in 1972 for a TV special when Durante was 79.

Filed under: Video No Comments
10Sep/120

EP0751: Frank Race: The Airborne Adventure

Tom Collins

Race is hired to protect plans for a new family style aircraft.

Original Air Date: April 23,1949

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9Sep/120

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #90-#86

Previous Posts: 91-9596-100

90) Frank Nelson

Frank Nelson is probably best remembered as a long-time radio presence as a regular on the Jack Benny Show. However, his career as one of radio comedy's most powerful character actors dated back well before that. He was practically a regular on the Lux Radio Theater in the mid-1930s. His 1940s radio work reads like a who's who of comedy including work with Eddie Cantor, Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Lucille Ball, and Eve Arden. His career also included appearances on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. In 1949, he played the boss of Jeff Regan (Frank Graham) in CBS reboot of the series and put an entirely different spin on the character of Anthony J Lyon.

Bill Goodwin89) Bill Goodwin: To most people, commercials are merely interuptions in their entertainment. However, Bill Goodwin was the master of making commercials entertaining. Working as an announcer for Bob Hope and later for George Burns and Gracie Allen, Goodwin made the commercial breaks entertaining and laugh out loud hilarious as he inserted ads for Swan Soap or Maxwell House Coffee into the plot of the story with comedic brilliance. In addition to his announcing gigs, Goodwin was a reliable comedic actor, often appearing on Screen Guild Theatre and Lux Radio Theater.

88) David Friedkin and Morton Fine

There are a few entries on this list that will be for two people because it's hard to imagine one without the other. Such is the case with legendary writers David Friedkin and Morton Fine. The two collaborated on writing many classic episodes of EscapeSuspense, and Crime Classics. They even wrote the first audition episode for Gunsmoke which imagined the series as Philip Marlowe set in the old west. Their biggest collaboration was Broadway's My Beat. Their writing style was crisp and poetic. They were masters at getting an audience emotionally involved in their stories. The team went on to bigger things in Television, but in my opinion they did some of their best work on the radio.

87) Raymond Burr

Raymond BurrRaymond Burr would find stardom in television as Perry Mason. His radio career began a decade before. Burr was a character actor for most of his radio career, playing roles similar to those taken by William Conrad with many heavies and cops, although Burr was not nearly as prolific. Burr provided support for programs like Suspense, The Line-Up, and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. In addition, he worked himself into two recurring roles in crime dramas featuring Jack Webb. He was radio's most brutal cop, Inspector Hellman of San Francisco Homicide on Pat Novak for Hire. He then joined Webb on Dragnet as Ed Backstrand, Chief of Detectives. Even though he was only 32, Burr projected all the authority the role required and was a bit of a show stealer during his five months on the show. Towards the twilight of radio's golden age, Burr finally landed a lead role on radio as Captain Lee Quince in Norman Macdonnell's brilliant western Fort Laramie, which he left to begin filming Perry Mason. Even after landing the role of his career, Burr made occasional appearances on radio for Suspense, The Family Theater, and the Salvation Army's Heartbeat Theater.

86) Frank Sinatra

While not the peak of Sinatra's appeal, the Golden Age of Radio played a big part in the Chairman of the Board's career. He sang with Tommy Dorsey in the early 1940s, and in the mid-40s, his albums were regularly featured inYour Hit Parade. He became known as an upcoming star beloved by the bobby socks set. Radio comedians had fun with him  as a guest joking about his rail thin figure. Another recurring joke had him as a rival of Bing Crosby, although he didn't eclipse Crosby for many years. Radio was there for Sinatra when his career was on the rocks in 1953. NBC gave him the role of Rocky Fortune, a footloose and fancy free young man who found mystery and adventure at every job he took. Unlike Dick Powell in Richard Diamond, Sinatra eschewed singing on the program and did the show as a typical crime drama. A best supporting actor win by Sinatra for his performance in From Here to Eternity placed his career back on solid footing and thus put an end to the jobless adventures of Rocky Fortune, but the series along with Sinatra's other work, has left an indellible impression on radio.

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8Sep/120

EP0750s: Pete Kelly’s Blues: Gus Trudeau (Audition)

Pete Kelly's Blues

Pete Kelly's old mentor escapes prison and is tagged for a murder rap. And everyone assumes Pete knows where is.

Audition Recorded: February 1951

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8Sep/121

You Ought to be on DVD: Vintage Mystery Movie Series

The era of DVDs has brought many great films and television shows to people's home viewing. Yet there are many efforts that have not been given their due with a DVD release so they can be enjoyed by audiences. Instead they're not shown at all or show only occasionally on certain TV channels.

The good news in recent years is that most studios have continued a slow roll out of material. Some material that's been considered to be of commercially questionable value have been released on DVR through Archives collections which have given viewers access to such treasures as the George Sanders Saint Collection and Red Skelton's Whistling Trilogy without committing studios to spending large amounts of money on a big run of DVDs.

However, there remain plenty of TV programs and movies that have not gotten their due with a DVD release and have thus remained obscure and hard to come by except from the sellers of bootleg DVDs.

So, in this series of posts we'll be taking a look at some movies and television shows that deserve to be available on retail DVDs.  Our focus is on detectives and there are quite a few detective films from the golden era that are not available. The biggest contingent is the detective movie series. In the pre-Television era, these film detectives starred in "movies" that were usually between 60 and 75 minutes. The most famous of these are the Charlie Chan and the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. In addition to this, Peter Lorre's Mr. Moto films and Bonita Granville's Nancy Drew films, have been released as well as the public domain adventures of Mr. Wong and Bulldog Drummond. The Michael Shayne films have scored partial releases have the Falcon and the Saint.  However, the mystery film series goes beyond that and there's much missing that ought to be there.

5) Philo Vance

Series run: 1929-40, 1947

Stars: William Powell (5 films), Warren William (2 Films), Alan Curtis (2 Films), Basil Rathbone, Paul Lucas, Edmund Lowe, Grant Richards, Wilfrid Hyde-Wright, James Stephenson, William Wright

Total Films: 16

"Philo Vance needs a kick in the pants." So concluded Ogden Nash. Many a literary critic has wondered why the arrogant and unlikable literary Vance become so popular. The answer may be that America loved the great British detectives and longed for one of stature they could call their own and Vance was the first American-based detective to be at that level.

The movies are another matter and ought to be a fun opportunity for fans, especially the Rathbone film as well as five featuring a pre-Thin Man William Powell. This series was a big step in Powell's career, so much so that in the Thin Man Trailer, "Philo Vance" helps to introduce the new movie series.  Sadly, only one film from this series is readily available and that one escaped into the public domain.

5) Hildegard Withers

Series Run: 1932-37

Stars: Edna May Oliver (3 Films),  Zasu Pitts (2 Films), Helen Broderick

Total Films: 6

A classic series of Comedy mysteries, the first three films with Oliver are acclaimed as solid comedy mysteries featuring Boston-based spinster who finds herself involved in murder mysteries.

4) Ellery Queen

Series Run: 1940-42

Stars: Ralph Bellamy (4 films) and William Gargan (3 Films):

Total Films: 7

Ellery Queen remains one of the most recognized characters in detective fiction and the 1975 TV series is on DVD but this classic series featuring the master detective played by not one but two great actors is completely absent.

3) The Lone Wolf

Series Run: 1935, 1938-43, 1946-47, 1940

Stars: Warren William (9 films), Gerald Mohr (3 films), Melvyn Douglas, Francis Lederer, Ron Randelll

Total Films: 15

Michael Lanyard (aka The Lone Wolf), like Boston Blackie was a jewel thief turned detective. He was the lead character in several novels by Joseph Vance as well as a series of silent films.

Two isolated films in 1935 and '38 were made before Warren William made The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt in 1939. The turn to espionage was timely and Williams would make 8 more Lone Wolf Films before 1943.  Also of interest are the three films starring Gerald Mohr (better known as the star of radio's Philip Marlowe) released in 1946 and '47.

In addition, I would also put a plug in here for giving a full DVD release to the 1954-55 TV series starring Louis Heyward. The 39-episode syndicated series was top notch with Heyward turning in an action-packed performance as Michael Lanyard.

2) Perry Mason

Series Run: 1934-37

Stars: Warren William (4 Films), Ricardo Cortez, Donald Woods

Before there was Raymond Burr, there was Warren William as Perry Mason hit theaters in the mid-30s. The release of these films would make a nice contrast to the more recent takes on Perry Mason.

1) Boston Blackie

Series Run: 1940-49

Star: Chester Morris (14 Films)

Morris played the character of reformed thief Boston Blackie in one of the more popular 1940s Detective film franchises that was a huge moneymaker for Columbia. Over the course of the films which ranged from 60-68 minutes in length, Boston Blackie became one of the more interesting golden era characters. We pick up the result of some of this evolution in the Boston Blackie series. That this most beloved series hasn't been given its due on DVD is a shame and hopefully, it will be corrected.

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7Sep/120

EP0750: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Barton Baker Matter

John Lund

Johnny investigates the death of a man who rents boats. The prime suspect is his partner.

Original Air Date: December 8, 1953

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6Sep/120

EP0749: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of London Tower

Sherlock Holmes investigates the theft of the crown jewels from the Tower of London.

Original Air Date: December 12,1948

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5Sep/120

EP0748: Let George Do It: A School of Sharks

Bob Bailey

George tries to break up a vicious gang of loan sharks.

Original Air Date: January 7, 1952

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