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

22Mar/140

Radio Drama Review: The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon

In January 1934, newspaper readers were introduced to the adventures of Flash Gordon, an athletic Yale graduate who is kidnapped by Doctor Zarkov and taken in a rocket to the planet Mongol along with the lovely Dale Arden.

In 1935, Hearst brought Flash Gordon to radio a 26-part adventure starring Gale Gordon as Flash Gordon in The Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon. Radio serials from this era are relatively rare, so I was surprised to find the whole 26 part story is available for listeners.

The serial is actually not all that good to start with. While it’s a faithful adaptation of the comic strip, the writers seemed to struggle with being faithful while transitioning Flash Gordon from a visual to an aural medium. One big thing was that very important scenes were skipped over in the early going, so you felt someone was giving highlight of the story rather than you listening to it.

The serial got much better around the sixth episode as the scene shifted to Flash's goal of taking over  the Blue Magic land from the witch Queen Azura. What followed over the next eighteen episodes was a dazzling display of imagination and plot twists with hypnosis potions, invisibility machines, angry dwarfs and a wide variety of reversals of fortune. This was radio fantasy for kids with all its gusto.

The series did break with continuity in the comic books,  so it could bring listeners another program. Episode 24 ended with Flash, Dale, and Zarkov accidentally heading back towards Earth in a rocket ship and in Episode 25 they crashed in the Jungle near long time radio character Jungle Jim. In Episode 26, the two were finally wed to wrap up the series, so that Jungle Jim could take over its time slot.  This wouldn't be the last Flash Gordon was heard on the radio, but it would be the last complete program.

Overall, the serial was good.  Some people might be offended by Flash's active conquest, but in the end it's just fantasy.  While the beginning was rushed, and the end while good was a little out of place, the middle chapters are packed with great story.  The acting quality varies quite a bit from character to character and there are a fair share of hams on the story, but the series works.

It particularly works as a promotion for the Flash Gordon comic strip. Characters like the Blue Magic Men, Hawk Men all sound exciting, fun, and worth seeing as well as hearing.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
22Mar/140

EP1214: Poice Blotter Murder at the Windsor

Sergeant Sam Willoughby  investigates a murder at a theater where jealous run deep.

Original Air Date: 1957

Support the program...http://support.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook....http://facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take our listener survey: http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
21Mar/140

EP1213: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Imperfect Alibi, Parts Four and Five

Bob Bailey

Johnny tries to bluff is way to the solution of the murder of an insured.

Original Air Dates: September 20 and 21, 1956

When making your travel plans remember http://johnnydollarair.com

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take the listener survey at http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Give us a call 208-991-4783

Follow us on Twitter @radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
20Mar/140

EP1212: Nick Carter: Murder by Fire

Lon Clark
Nick Carter attempts to save a woman from a fire and discovers she was murdered.

Original Air Date: January 14, 1945

Support the listener support campaign...http://support.greatdetectives.net

Take our listener survey: http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
19Mar/140

EP1211: Here Comes McBride

Frank Lovejoy
While looking for a missing necklace, Rex McBride finds a body in his room and is accused of murder.

Original Air Date: May 19, 1949

When making your travel plans, remember http://johnnydollarair.com

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take the listener survey at http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Give us a call 208-991-4783

Follow us on Twitter @radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
18Mar/140

EP1210: Casebook of Gregory Hood: The Double Diamond

Gale Gordon

Gregory Hood investigates the theft of a diamond in mid-flight.

Original Air Date: August 5, 1946

Support the listener support campaign...http://support.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook....http://facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take our listener survey: http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podca1st to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
17Mar/140

EP1209: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Imperfect Alibi Matter, Parts One and Three

Bob Bailey

Johnny tries to prevent the murder of a young executive.

Original Air Dates: September 17 and 19, 1956

When making your travel plans, remember http://johnnydollarair.com 

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take the listener survey at http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Give us a call 208-991-4783

Follow us on Twitter @radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

 

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
15Mar/140

EP1208: Police Blotter: Homicide by Hurricane

Bill Zuckert

An inventor is killed by his own wind tunnel.

Original Air Date: 1957

Support the show..http://support.greatdetectives.net

Take our listener survey: http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
15Mar/140

DVD Review: Nick Carter Triple Feature Mysteries


Walter Pidgeon played Nick Carter in a series of 3 MGM films in 1939 and 1940 and the three films were released in the last few years by Warner Archives.

The first film was, Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939) which saw Nick heading to California to investigate the theft of plans for an advanced aircraft and sabotage of the factory.

This film is engaging  and breezes by in 59 minutes. The mystery isn’t all that complex, but the film is interesting for its look at a time when the aviation industry was very young.

Carter as portrayed on the film, jumped to conclusions and made plenty of surmises about people's guilt, some of which were far fetched but promised repeatedly, “If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize later.” A line that would be used in other films, though not as frequently as  here.

The second film was Phantom Raiders (1940) and it was probably the worst of the three. The film was expanded to 70 minutes, but really didn’t seem to know what to do with the extra time, so it opted for padding. You could start watching the film ten minutes in and really not miss anything.

Carter is brought in on a case where several boats are being blown up at sea by the same company leading to massive insurance payoff. This film because of the first ten minutes (which gives away the plot) is much less of a true whodunit and more of a battle of wits between Nick and the villain which does work fairly well.

The location shots are good and the plot progresses nicely. Other than the very boring first ten minutes, my big complaint is that Nick keeps trying to bow out of the case in a way that hardly seem consistent with the heroic reputation of the character.

Finally, we have the best film of the series Sky Murder  (1940) which has Nick investigating a murder that occurred in the air. The movie was one of those pre-war films that really dealt with the war in Europe and fifth columnists in the US. This 72 minute film was exciting, well-paced, suspenseful, and with some lighter moments included as well. In terms of B Detective movies, it didn’t get much better than this. This movie makes the whole set worth buying.

Overall, I found this to be a very good series of films. The glaring flaw with the series was that the Nick Carter on the screen had very little relation to the Nick Carter off the books. Through fifty years of pulp fiction, Carter had been established as a resourceful tireless he-man who looked at danger and laughed in its face. Carter also surrounded himself with younger detectives who he was mentoring, thus the title master detective.

Pidgeon plays Carter as much more typical Mystery Comedy lead. Carter’s no fool, but he’s also a bit of a lady’s man and in The Phantom Raiders he’d rather catch up with the ladies and take a vacation than bust up the ring.

And as for assistants, Nick has Bartholemew (played by Donald Meek), a middle aged bee keeper and wannabe amateur detective who attaches himself to Nick with Nick’s sufferance more than anything else.

It was Hollywood’s practice in the 1930s to pay to adapt characters to the screen and then shove these characters into the formula of the moment, which is why there was a series of Nancy Drew where Nancy was a little bit ditzy, and two Nero Wolfe films where Archie Goodwin was played as a typical punch drunk Lionel Stander character.

Even with this flaw, these three movies are good in and of themselves. The stories are well-written and there’s plenty of action for a film of its era though it's not bloody. There were a couple of machine gun scenes in this series that were thrilling.

Even Bartholemew works as a sidekick, particularly in the last two movies. While similar characters from the golden age of film usually became  nothing more than annoying comic foils, Meek turns in a solid performance and Bartholemew actually becomes a valuable asset to Nick in the second and third movies, comfortable with a gun and with using some trick action to get the upper hand on the bad guys.

The series stands up well. Only lasting for three installments meant that unlike Mr. Moto or The Thin Man, the Nick Carter series didn't stick around for one film too many.

The DVD itself is up to the usual standard of Warner Archives with no thrills but three good and very rare films with decent transfers. The only mistake made was that Warner put Phantom Raiders before Sky Murder but this is only of trivial importance as it really doesn't matter which order you watch these in.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

If you enjoyed this post, you can have new posts about Detective stories and the golden age of radio and television delivered automatically to your Kindle.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg
14Mar/141

EP1207: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Confidential Matter, Part Five and Manhunt: The Clue of the Contradictory Confessions

Bob Bailey

Johnny searches for his former friend who is on run from him and the Panamanian police.

Original Air Date: September 14, 1956

A miserable old man is poisoned and everyone at his table takes sole responsibility.

Original Air Date: February 12, 1944

When making your travel plans, remember http://johnnydollarair.com

Become one of our friends on Facebook... http://www.facebook.com/radiodetectives

Take the listener survey at http://survey.greatdetectives.net

Give us a call 208-991-4783

Follow us on Twitter @radiodetectives

Click here to download, click here to add this podcast to your Itunes, click here to subscribe.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • email
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Reader
  • LinkedIn
  • Digg

Subscribers

Pages

Friends of the Show

GAR Links

Great OTR LInks

Other Old Time Radio Shows

April 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Tags

Categories

Archives