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

30Apr/130

EP0934: Frank Race: The Adventure of the Lovable Character

Paul Dubov

One of the wives of an Indian prince believes someone is trying to eliminate him, but his mother believes the problem seems psychological.

Original Air Date: December 10, 1949

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29Apr/130

EP0933: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Alvin Summers Matter, Parts One and Two

Bob Bailey
Johnny Dollar goes to Mexico in search of an embezzler.

Original Air Date: October 24 and 25, 1955

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28Apr/130

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown #3: Bob Hope

Previous Posts: 456,78,91012-1114-1316-1518-1720-19,22-2124-2326-2528-2730-2933-3136-34,

39-37,42-4045-4348-4651-4954-5257-5560-5865-6170-66,  71-7576-80,

81-8586-9091-9596-100

3) Bob Hope

Bob Hope
Bob Hope's radio persona would be glad to have top billing over Bing Crosby (last week's #4). However, Hope certainly earned the spot.

Hope began his own program in 1939 on the strength of early film success on the Pepsodent Show where he would spend most of his years on the radio. In his early days, his brand of humor frequently bristled the network censors with some of his humor, but this is less remembered  today.

World War II would forever change Hope and how he was perceived by the American people. While World War II brought out patriotism in Hollywood with innumerable celebrities doing their bit to help defeat the Axis, it was Bob Hope who took the lead, visiting troops more often than other. During the war, nearly every week, his program came from an overseas base. In addition to this, he was  a frequent host of AEF programs like Command Performance and GI Journal. 

Hope would have plenty of laughs during his show. However, his closing monologue would often be on a more serious note as an instrumental version of his signature theme "Thanks for the Memories" played, urging Americans earnestly to support worthy causes such as the March of Dimes, the Red Cross, and the Crusade for Freedom. Hope's passion comes across today unashamed and sincere even many years later. Hope's rapport with the public made him a trusted and liked personality. In 1945, Lux Radio Theater broke with its tradition of dramatizing plays and movies to dramatize Hope's book about visiting the troops, I Never Left Home.  He was called upon  in 1950 to do a short four part series on the emerging post-Atom Bomb world called The Quick and Dead. 

Of course, this wasn't to say Hope became a serious figure. His comedy continued to delight millions. Like many Golden Age comedians, Hope relied on running gags. He began most shows for Pepsodent with a rhyming greeting. Many of the jokes focused on Hope as a "Wolf" even as he advanced through his 40s into his late 50s.  Some radio fans pan hopes Humor as "too topical." Monologues have that issue, but then so did those of most radio comedians.

What makes Hope well worth listening to is that he was one of radios best ad-libbers, bar none. Hope would even ad-lib his way through radio performances of movies he'd appeared in on Lux Radio Theater and Screen Guild Theater. Hope also had great chemistry with so many great stars of the era. Of course, there was Hope's longtime friend and occasional partner Bing Crosby, however in his radio days Hope performed with a wide variety of stars including Humphrey Bogart, Chico Marx, Gracie Allen, and Jack Webb.  His ability to play straight man or comic as well as to throw out the script when he had a better idea made Hope a great performer. His charaacter and personality made him a class act that made radio great.

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27Apr/130

EP0932: The Line Up: Lieutenant Guthrie Kidnapped

William Johnstone

Guthrie is kidnapped by a robbery suspect who intends to kill them once they leave the city.

Original Air Date: June 19, 1951

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27Apr/130

Radio Drama Review: The Green Valley Line

The Green Valley Line was a syndicated radio drama from the 1930s. Told in 26 quarter hour parts, it tells the story of Bill Reed, the son of a wealthy railroad baron who comes to work for the Green Valley Line, a small western railroad that his father wants to buy out. His decision gains suspicion from locals who support the Green Valley Line as well as the condemnation of those who favor the acquisition as he's going against his father.

His sincerity becomes clear and that's important when an injury to railroad superintendent Pop Harkness forces Bill into taking over as acting superintendent of the line. His father and his supporters are determined to take the line by hook or by crook. The daughter of the President of the railroad Carrie Graham initially despises Bill but then at the urging of Harkness becomes a friend and an eventually ally against Bill's father and her father who is backing the acquisition.

The series was most likely produced in Detroit according to the Radio Goldindex. It featured the voice talents of John Dodd (Tonto from the Lone Ranger) and Bill was played by Rollen Parker who appeared frequently in WXYZ's famous radio programs The Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, and Challenge of the Yukon.

There's much to like about this series. The business story of the Green Valley Line and Bill Reed's various clever maneuvers make for a solid entertainment with lots of twist. The story's weak spot is the predictable romantic subplot between Bill and Carrie. That it's predictable is not the problem, but Bill's blossoming feelings for Carrie leave him willing to quit his job as Superintendent and leave local investors who supported him in a lurch and allow his effort to fail. This doesn't make him look good in the eyes of listeners or of Carrie. The romance is pretty badly handled in the last few episodes which is a pretty sorry state of affairs given that the plot was so basic. The romance instead of adding to the story, became a detriment.

But the earliest episodes are good and enjoyable which makes up for the weak romantic plot. For a 1930s syndicated show, it was pretty good.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.00

 

You can download episodes of the Green Valley Line from Archive.org

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26Apr/130

EP0931: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Chesapeake Fraud Matter, Part Five and Call for a Columnist

Bob Bailey
Johnny Lane gets an unusual body guard in Call for a Columnist, Part Two. 

Original Air Date: 1958

Meanwhile, the case has changed as what was once a case of fraud is now about the murder of one of Johnny's friends.

Original Air Date: October 21, 1955

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25Apr/130

EP0930: Sherlock Holmes: The Dying Detective

John Gielgud
Sherlock Holmes is dying of a mysterious disease and he won't let Watson examine him.

Original Air Date: February 13, 1955

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24Apr/130

EP0929: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Chesapeake Fraud Matter, Parts 3 and 4

 Bob Bailey

Johnny goes to Denver to find out if a deceased man is alive and he's not satisfied with the answer he gets.

Original Air Date: October 19 and 20, 1955

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23Apr/130

EP0928: Frank Race: The Adventure of the Kettle Drum

Paul Dubov

An old flame asks Race to investigate her husband's sudden illness.

Original Air Date: December 3, 1949

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22Apr/130

EP0927:Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Chesapeake Fraud Matter, Parts One and Two

Bob Bailey

Johnny investigates a report that a man who was declared dead and had insurance paid, but has been reported alive.

Original Air Date: October 17 and 18, 1955

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