Author: Yours Truly Johnny Blogger

Dragnet: The Big Grifter (EP4358)

Today’s Mystery:

Friday and Romero face off against a veteran con-man.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: February 23, 1950

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday; Barton Yarborough as Sergeant Ben Romero; Herb Butterfield

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Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Markham Matter (EP4357)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

Johnny goes to San Francisco because a high value company client has seemingly disappeared and her husband is acting suspicious.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates: November 18, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Lois Corbett; Frank Nelson; Virginia Gregg; Bert Holland; Paula Winslowe; John Dehner

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Mr. Chameleon: The Case of the Murdered Gold-Digger (EP4356)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

A woman in flashy clothes is murdered in the driveway of a married man who swears he never ever saw her before.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: June 1, 1949

Originating from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: Rescue Rick Perez (EP4355)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to Venezuela to rescue a U.S. agent who was investigating a Latin American revolutionary organization.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: April 1, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell; Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner; Paul Frees; Paul Dubov; Ben Wright; Betty Lou Gerson; Don Diamond

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Ellery Queen: The Adventure of the Income Tax Robbery (EP4354)

Carleton Young
Today’s Mystery:

A private detective turns to Ellery for help when his income tax blank is stolen, along with sensitive information that could expose his wealthy clients to blackmail.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: March 12, 1942

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Originating in New York

Starring: Carleton Young as Ellery Queen; Marian Shockley; Ted De Corsia; Santos Ortega; Maurice Tarplin

Armchair Detectives: Manda Hedrom and Mayor Howard W. Jackson of Baltimore (Over the phone, not heard on broadcast)

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The Falcon: The Case of the Puzzling Pinup (EP4353)

Les Damon

Today’s Mystery:

A reporter comes to The Falcon to ask him to take part in a blackmail scheme and then dies.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: November 19, 1950

Originating from New York

Starring: Les Damon as The Falcon; Larry Haines

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Hollywood Star Time: Hot Spot (EP4352s)


Today’s Mystery:

Based on the movie I Wake Up Screaming, a Broadway promoter is suspected of murdering an up-and-coming actress, by a dogged police officer who always gets his man.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: July 27, 1946

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Frankie Christopher; Vincent Price as Ed Cornell; Lurene Tuttle; Gloria Blondell; Theodore Von Elt; Harry Bartell; David Ellis; Elliott Reid

My review of I Wake Up Screaming

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Hallmark Playhouse: Ben-Hur (AWR0245)

Amazing World of Radio

An adaptation of Lew Wallace’s classic novel of Judah Ben-Hur, a 1st Century Jewish man unjustly imprisoned by the decree of his ambitious best friend.

Original Radio Broadcast: April 10, 1952

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Jeff Chandler as Ben-Hur; William Conrad; Virginia Gregg; Lurene Tuttle; Herb Butterfield; Richard Beals

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Sheriff of Cochise Woman Escapes (Video Theater 268)

When Hank Gifford finds himself caught between his domineering sister and his manipulative girlfriend, a tragic accident spirals into a harrowing investigation. It’s up to Sheriff Morgan (John Bomfield) to find the truth.

Season 2, Episode 29

Original Air Date: October 31, 1957

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Dragnet: The Big Girl (EP4352)

Today’s Mystery:

Friday and Romero investigating a series of robberies, beatings, and shootings committed by a beautiful woman.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: February 9, 1950

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday; Barton Yarborough as Sergeant Ben Romero; Herb Butterfield

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Audio Drama Review: Ben-Hur

In 2000, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre released their adaptation of Ben-Hur, the classic novel by General Lew Wallace. The radio adaptation sought to focus on the actual story of Wallace’s novel, which differs in many ways from the classic Hollywood picture released in 1959 starring Charlton Heston.

The production begins with a prologue in which Prince Ithamar Ben-Hur (Peter Moreton) is commanded by Herod the Great to lead the Slaughter of the Innocents, Herod’s program to kill all infants under the age of two in the area of Bethlehem. Ithamar refuses, sealing his own certain death. However, before going in to break the news to Herod, Ithamar commands his servant (Peter Goodwright) to hide his wife and children.

The story properly begins when Judah Ben-Hur (Russell Boulter) is going to see his old best friend Masala (Colin McFarlane), who grew up with Judah in Judea, and has recently returned as a Roman soldier. Their friendship quickly sours when Masala tries to get Judah to use his position and influence to help Rome. Masala then takes advantage of a freak accident in which Judah leans on a ceiling tile, which falls and strikes the new Roman procurator. Masala has Judah and his family arrested in hopes of seizing not only his Jerusalem estate, but the hidden family fortune that was in the care of Ithamar’s servant. Ben-Hur is made a slave and sent to a Roman galley. He vows revenge.

For those who’ve seen the film but not read the book, Ben-Hur offers a fresh adaptation that explores aspects of the story that didn’t make it to the silver screen. However, at the same time, it’s a 2-hour audio drama in four parts that adapted a 113,000 word novel, and so has to make its own compromises to get the story to fit into its run-time. The choices are sound ones, resulting in a tale of adventure, intrigue, and revenge that manages to be entertaining and inspiring.

The British cast, which featured such talents as Wendy Craig and Bernard Cribbins in relatively small roles, all are on the top of their game. The sound design and effects are excellent throughout. The one thing that the production had to get right was the great chariot race. Making such a visual spectacle translate to audio was a challenge, but they nailed it through a combination of great acting and effects work.

The program has a couple of minor weak points. The character of Iras, the daughter of the Wise Man Balthasar, is a very one-dimensional and obvious gold-digger. While this might have been how Wallace wrote her, the production does compromise on book-accuracy in other instances, and it would have been improved by doing so here. While it wasn’t horrible, the score is a bit underwhelming at times. Ben-Hur is an epic story that has big epic moments, but the music rarely delivers. The score might have been fine on a pedestrian direct-to-video movie, but doesn’t have the power you’d expect of a story like Ben-Hur. 

All in all, this is a solid adaptation of Ben-Hur and makes for great Easter listening.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

 

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.

 

Fitch Bandwagon: Coloring Easter Eggs (AWR0244)

Amazing World of Radio

Today’s Story:

Phil’s plans for Easter go awry when, instead of using the sponsor’s product, he shampoos his hair with leftover easter egg dye that turns his hair bright red just before church.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: March 28, 1948

Starring: Phil Harris and Alice Faye; Elliot Lewis as Frankie Remley. Anne Whitfield plays their daughter, Phyl, and we discuss her life and legacy in light of her recent passing.

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Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Big Scoop Matter (EP4351)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery: Johnny goes to New York to protect a friend, a reporter on the trail of a big story, who has already had multiple attempts on his life.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: November 11, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Virginia Gregg; Russell Thorson, Barney Phillips, Stacy Harris, Larry Thor, Parley Baer, Les Tremayne

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Mr. Chameleon: Murder in the House of Torture (EP4350)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

Mr. Chameleon is called in to investigate a series of bizarre murders committed in a phony funeral home.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: May 25, 1949

Originating from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: Find Antonina (EP4349)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to Portugal to find a young woman who’d been in the U.S. illegally and find out why she intentionally had herself deported.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: March 25, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell; Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner; Bill Conrad; Virginia Gregg; Harry Bartell; Tony Barrett; Ralph Moody

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