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

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

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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

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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

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15Mar/140

EP1208: Police Blotter: Homicide by Hurricane

Bill Zuckert

An inventor is killed by his own wind tunnel.

Original Air Date: 1957

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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.

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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

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13Mar/140

Cole Ustick: A Look at the Protagonist of Slime Incorporated)

Below is a look at my character, Cole Ustick, the star of my first detective novel, Slime Incorporated,\ Slime Incorporated  is now available in paperback or for the Kindle. (available for a free borrow through the Kindle Lending Library for readers with Amazon Prime.)

Age: 25

Name Origin: Ustick Road is a major road in the Treasure Valley where I live.  I thought it'd be fun name for a detective, so I named the character Johnny Ustick in "An Ounce of Prevention." Andrea changed the detective's first name to Cole.  Cole Rd. is another major street in Boise and in fact the two roads intersect and I think of my character every time I drive by there. Most people just call him Ustick.

Cultural Background: The story is set in Boise, but Ustick wasn't actually born there. Ustick was born and raised in Philadelphia for his first fifteen years.  His mother had an Italian background while  his father's heritage is English with several generations of Ustick men having served in the Navy.  Ustick didn't join because of motion sickness and trauma over the death of his father.

He's lived in Boise for a little less than 10 years.  He doesn't have a negative attitude towards the area.  For the most part, it suits him with enough big city conveniences to keep him happy and with shows and concerts to go to but without the high crime or overcrowding. He doesn't look down on Boise, but sometimes the ways of Idaho's capitol do amuse him.

Position: As the book opens, Cole works for Jerry Newton, private detective and decorated former Boise Police detective. Newton's style of tends to be very methodical while Ustick tends to be more inventive, intuitive, and look for shortcuts. While Newton tends to be very much a straight arrow, Ustick will be more willing to try something deceptive or sneaky to achieve his ends. The two have a close relationship and their often snipping at each other is just part of their relationship.

Look and Mannerisms: Ustick's usual outfit is a suit but often  wearing a Color like plum, or or orange. Part of the look was inspired by Timothy Hutton's portrayal of Archie Goodwin where he wrote a lot of vibrant and very colors. I've seen these sort of things in other places do. Nampa Mayor Tom Dale actually had a band and they wore similarly colored suits.  I was also inspired by someone I worked with who regularly wore fun suits. 

Ustick has longer hair.  Initially, I imagined it as red, but when I mentioned this to a couple of ladies, I got negative feedback when I described some of the outfits because the hair and the outfits would clash.  I opted black hair which goes better with most clothes.

He  chews gum frequently, though Newton doesn't allow it around clients or potential clients. Ustick loves music of most types (not really into rap or most 90s music) and if he's not doing anything in particular, he'll have music of some type playing in the background.

His smart phone is his constant companion and if he is waiting somewhere he'll probably be doing something on his phone such as playing Angry Birds.  

To learn more, check out Slime Incorporated, available now in paperback or for the Kindle.

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13Mar/140

EP1206: Nick Carter: Monkey See Murder

Lon Clark
Nick goes to Boston and finds himself investigating the death of the old friend who summoned him.

Original Air Date: January 7, 1945

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12Mar/140

EP1205: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Confidential Matter, Parts Three and Four

Bob Bailey
Johnny goes to Panama in search for answers in the case of a friend who turned thief and stolen $80,000 from his company.

Original Air Dates: September 12 and 13, 1956

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11Mar/140

EP1204: The Casebook of Gregory Hood: The Forgetful Murderer

Gale Gordon
Someone is murdering night watchmen and leaving odd clues behind.

Original Air Date: July 29, 1946

 

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