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31Jul/131

EP1013: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Flight Six Matter, Parts Three and Four

Bob Bailey

Johnny finds a web of intrigue around Marvel Terrance as his suspects take a change of venue.

Original Air Dates: February 1 and 2, 1956

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30Jul/131

EP1012: Mr. Moto: Escape

Mr. Moto searches for a kidnapped American Sportswriter who has been accused of assassinating an Italian Anti-Communist politician.

Original Air Date: July 22, 1951

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29Jul/130

EP1011: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Flight Six Matter, Parts One and Two

Bob Bailey

Johnny investigates the bombing of a small plane in Mexico where three passenger took out accident policies.

Original Air Date: January 30 and 31, 1956

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28Jul/133

Radio Drama Review: Powder River, Season Two

Season 2 of Powder River finds Britt MacMasters (Jerry Robbins) having resumed his role as a US marshall, a new sheriff  (Joseph Zamberelli) in town, and the continued process of Chad MacMasters (Derrick Alerud) coming of age.

As the season begins, Sheriff Dawes takes over as the town's full time law man and immediately clashes with the town's  people, arresting the town's best shot Doc (Lincoln Clark) for carrying his pistol on the city streets. Dawes also seems uncomfortable with having a US Marshal in town and wants to assert his authority. However, the coming of Indian raids forces him to abandon these pursuits in order to ensure the town is protected.

While the first season of Powder River (originally intended as a limited series) was good, Robbins and the Colonial Theater players really stepped it up a notch, producing a  consistently great Western adventure series.  The highlights for me:

  • Jenny White singing: Due to an Indian attack on the Overland stage, a great singer from back East ends up stranded in Clearmont and she agrees to perform at the local saloon while she's there.  The singing was authentic and the sound quality on the musical performance: superb. It's fantastic for a series that really didn't deal much in music.
  • Chad MacMasters kidnapped:  This four part story arch has so much going for it. The basic premise of Chad being kidnapped by a vengeful enemy of the Macmaster clan has a very old school feel to it.  Colonial really took their time on this and developed this story perfectly.  It's one of the most emotionally engaging radio stories you'll ever find. The drama and suspense reach high levels as the villain drags Chad into the unforgiving Eastern Montana winter, with Britt and friends right on their trail. This is a story that works on every level from start to finish.
  • General Custer shows up:  The appearance of General Custer in Clearmont is a great story. Chad is grabbed by the idea of becoming an Army Scout under Customer, but as a former Army man that served under the egotistical general, Britt knows better. My favorite scene in this three part story was Britt's confrontation with General Custer.
  • The Stunning Season Finale:  The last two episodes of the second season really created a fantastic contrast. The fourteenth episode of the season found Clearmont celebrating America's Centennial in grand fashion. The season finale, "Nothing Lasts Forever" is about the day after as the citizens of Clearmont learn of General Custer's defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn. The contrast between the celebratory mood of one episode and the mournful feeling of the other was striking.  The programs originally aired in 2005, and the reactions of the people of Clearmont to the news seemed similar to how Americans felt on September 11, 2001 with the terrorist attacks. Chad decides to take a dramatic new step in his life, but his father doesn't approve, leading to a tense conclusion that reveals a lot about the tough as nails US Marshal. In many ways, the whole season led up to this moment, particularly a shooting contest that father and son competed in earlier in the series.

I'm not a huge fan of westerns, but Season 2 of Powder River is just a very well-produced radio drama that's worth a listen. If you're curious about Powder River, I'd probably recommend starting with this season first as it's a higher quality production and it's not necessary to listen to season one to understand the series.

Overall, Season 2 has plenty of action, adventure, and drama and is a must listen to for your radio drama library.

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars.

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27Jul/130

EP1010: The Line Up: The Elsner Case

William Johnstone
Guthrie and Grebbs investigate the seemingly senseless murder of a 60 year old woman.

Original Air Date: December 27, 1951

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27Jul/130

You Ought to be on DVD Revisited: What’s New in Old Movies

Last year, I wrote a series of posts about TV series and movies that were due a DVD release and hadn't received one. I'm pleasantly surprised to see some movement on this thanks largely to the efforts of Warner Brothers and their Warner archives collections. Here are some long lost treasures that can be brought home on DVD mostly due to the efforts of Warner Archives:

Perry Mason Movies: Before Raymond Burr made Perry Mason a television icon in the late 50s and early 60s, actors such as Warren William, Ricardo Perez, and Donald Woods took their turn playing the iconic lawyer in the 1930s. Warner Archives has released all six movies on DVD which will give audiences a chance to enjoy a Perry Mason closer to Erle Stanley Gardener's hard-boiled intention.

Philo Vance Movies: Warner Archives is out with a sampler of Philo Vance movies covering several actors. There's the Bishop Murder Case with Basil Rathbone, The Kennel Murder Case with William Powell, The Dragon Murder Case with Warren William, The Casino Murder Case with Paul Lucas, The Garden Murder Case with Edmund Lowe, and Calling Philo Vance with James Stephenson. There's actually three more Powell entries and another William entry that I hope will see release.

Lone Wolfe Movie: This release of the Vance and Mason movies may be tied to a recent book about Warren William. That also will explain why one entry in the Lone Wolfe series has finally seen the light of day with the release of, The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady.

While I didn't mention the relatively short Nick Carter detective movie series with Walter Pidgeon, those have also been released.

It's not just Mystery Series that Warner Brothers is releasing, but also standalone mystery classics. We played the Screen GUild Theater presentation of, The Mask of Demetrios for one of our specials and at last this film has earned a DVD release. The thriller is rare as it stars Peter Lorre as a hero not named Moto and Sidney Greenstreet plays a heavy.

On the comedy front, the Great Gildersleeve movies with Harold Peary have seen release along with one movie (Seven Days Leave) in which Gildersleeve is a supporting character for Lucille Ball's lead.

Finally, while I haven't gotten my wish about more Dr. Kildare movies making their way to DVD, the first season of the Dr. Kildare TV series starring Richard Chamberlain has been released.

Overall, Warner Archives deserves a debt of thanks from fans of classic golden age entertainment. There's still much more unreleased material that's part of America's cultural heritage. From Johnny Midnight to Dick Powell's To the Ends of the Earth, but Warner Brothers has taken some great steps by making so many productions available to a mass audience. Well done. I've added many of these movies to my Amazon wish list and hope to see them very soon.

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26Jul/130

EP1009: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Duke Red Matter, Part Five and High Sky Hoodoo

Bob Bailey

Johnny nears the solution to the mystery of the missing trainer and what really happened to Duke Red.

Original Air Date: January 27, 1956

Whitney Kent takes a test flight---and this time he's sober.

Original Air Date: Week of December 20, 1957

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25Jul/130

EP1008: NBC University Theater: The Purloined Letter

Adolphe Menjou

A blackmailing count steals a compromising letter from a noble lady.

Original Air Date: September 17, 1948

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24Jul/130

EP1007: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Duke Red Matter, Parts Three and Four

Bob Bailey

Johnny's search for the truth behind the death of a race horse leads to an investigation of a missing horse trainer.

Original Air Date: January 25 and 26, 1956

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23Jul/130

EP1006: Mr. Moto: Sabotage

Mr. Moto matches wits against Communist saboteurs.

Original Air Date: July 15, 1951

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