Author: Yours Truly Johnny Blogger

Mr. Chameleon: The Case of the Conceited Murderer (EP4380)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

A famous photographer is murdered.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: June 29, 1949

Originated from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: Strategic Base Sabotaged (EP4379)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to New Guinea in search of a dock worker who is suspected of sabotaging the construction of a joint U.S.-Australia-New Zealand strategic base.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: April 29, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell; Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner; Ben Wright; Betty Lou Gerson; Martha Wentworth; Paul Frees

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Squad Room: Mother of Two Murdered (EP4378)


Today’s Mystery:

Scanlon and Webster are called in to investigate when a woman is found dead in a dirty manufacturing loft.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: December 22, 1954

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Originating in New York

Patreon Supporter of the Day: Peter, Patreon Supporter since March 2023

Starring: Bill Zuckert as RJ Scanlon; Chuck Webster as James Brady

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U.S. Marshal: Helldorado (Video Theater 270)

 In the heat of Cochise County’s Helldorado week, a celebration turns sour as Sheriff Morgan confronts the chaos of an open town. With high-stakes poker games and the threat of murder hanging over the festivities, Morgan must protect the integrity of his badge and the safety of his guests. This episode, “Helldorado,” takes us on a wild ride through loyalty, deceit, and the gambles we take with the cards we’re dealt.

Season 1, Episode 15

 Original Air Date: December 7, 1956

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The Falcon: The Case of the Baby Brother (EP4377)

Les Damon

Today’s Mystery:

The elder brother of a man who committed suicide wants Waring to find the woman he believes drove his brother down a dark path so that he can get rid of her.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: December 17, 1950

Originating from New York

Starring: Les Damon as the Falcon; Ken Paxton as Sergeant Corbett; Mandel Kramer, Maurice Tarplin

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Telefilm Review: The Chevy Mystery Show: Enough Rope

Peter Falk first played Columbo in 1968. However, the character first came to television in 1960, played by Bert Freed in a one-off episode of The Chevy Mystery Show a 1960 Summer Anthology show. This original television performance made its way onto the Internet. (More on how that happened later on.) So I took a look at the OG Columbo story.

“Enough Rope”, the episode featuring Freed as Columbo, would later be expanded by writers and Columbo co-creators Richard Levinson and William Link, first into a stage play and then as the mystery movie that would introduce Falk as Columbo – Prescription: Murder. The basic plot of both “Enough Rope” and Prescription: Murder is the same. Dr. Roy Fleming (played by Richard Carlson in “Enough Rope”), a New York psychiatrist, murders his wife and, with the help of his mistress, gives himself a perfect alibi. He arrives to find the bumbling police Lieutenant Columbo (Freed) investigating the case, and it becomes apparent as the episode goes on that Columbo knows Fleming did it.

The biggest surprise about this episode is that it’s in color, which was rare for television in the 1960s. Although given the relatively small number of color sets in the US at the time, it’s safe to say most people who saw it watched it in black and white. The color is great and a real treat for this episode. The episode was not aired live, but it was recorded live, so that if a line was flubbed or a minor mistake was made, the cast just moved on. This gives the production a bit of a stage play feel.

There’s a temptation to compare Freed’s performance to Falk’s iconic take on the character, which isn’t fair. Not only wouldn’t Falk take on the role until 1968, the fairly unrumpled NYPD detective Falk portrayed in the first Columbo film, Prescription: Murder, bore little resemblance to how we think of the character today. That character wouldn’t be really formed until 1971. So given that Freed’s performance came before Falk’s,  and before Thomas Mitchell’s stage performance, it deserved to be evaluated on its own merits.

Freed was a skilled character actor and does a great job creating a detective character for which there wasn’t much precedent. On first impression, Freed seemed a lovable chubby oaf of a detective, only to show more and more flashes of his true cunning. You can also see some of the genesis of the ideas that would define the Columbo character.

I like Carlson as Fleming more than Gene Barry in the same role in Prescription: Murder. He’s a little more believable as a psychiatrist. He runs the gamut of emotions nicely as the walls close in and he finds himself in a battle of wits with Columbo.

While Freed and Carlson are terrific, the rest of the cast is just okay. The series was hosted by Walter Sleazak in those early days when TV anthologies had hosts. Some, like Ronald Reagan on the General Electric Theater, added charm and warmth. Others, like Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock added a bit more atmosphere to the strange tales they told. Sleazak adds nothing. He’s just a guy having a smoke while recapping the episode so far for anyone tuning in late.

The ending to the story is a bit mixed for me. I’ve always felt that Prescription: Murder, with its feature-length runtime, is too long. With “Enough Rope”, I find myself thinking that an hour is a bit short for this mystery. The length of Columbo episodes during the 70s is really just right. The result in “Enough Rope” is relatively simple, although in style, the final clue definitely has the feel of some later Columbo episodes. I don’t quite care for the clinching moment which resolves the battle of wits between Flemming and Columbo in a less satisfying way. It’s not bad for a 1960s Mystery Anthology show but it gives me more appreciation for the far better ending that Levinson and Link gave Prescription: Murder.

Overall, “Enough Rope” is a fun mystery for the era and really represents a chance to witness the first draft of Columbo and what was already there before Peter Falk came along. So it’s of interest to fans of Columbo or fans of TV mystery drama and is worth watching…while you can watch it.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

How This Got on the Internet

The Paley Center at UCLA held a live online screening of “Enough Rope” in April 2021. The event was to be live and not subject to being rewatched. The portion they archived included interviews with experts. The episode showed up last year on the Internet Archive with the UCLA branding attached and was posted to YouTube. The video I’ve linked above is titled a “Remaster.” Whether this removed the UCLA branding or perhaps is from another rare copy of this program, I don’t know. The copyright on “Enough Rope” was not renewed, and so this episode is in the public domain. I’m not certain what recourse anyone could have. But it’s early days and the circumstances of the release of the episode leaves me uncertain whether this will remain on the Internet forever.

Dragnet: The Big Boys (EP4376)

Today’s Mystery: Friday and Romero get a tip on four young fugitive gunmen from San Francisco.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: March 16, 1950

Originating from Hollywood

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

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Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Rasmussen Matter (EP4375)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

Johnny searches Los Angeles for the widow of an insured man who died in Malaya, and whose father-in-law desperately wants to meet her.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates: December 16, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Virginia Gregg; Jeanne Tatum; Eric Snowden; Roy Glenn; Will Wright; Frank Nelson; Jack Kruschen

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

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Mr. Chameleon: The Bizarre Motive Murder Case (EP4374)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

The fiancée of a classical musician is murdered while at a concert.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: June 22, 1949

Originated from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: A Trap in Freedom House (EP4373)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to London to investigate an apparent traitor at an organization that’s supposed to help refugees from behind the Iron Curtain, but is instead getting them sent back.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: April 22, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell; Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner; Jan Arvan; Jean Tatum; Jeanne Bates; Tony Barrett; Paul Dubov

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Thin Man: The Case of the Moon Murder (EP4372)

Claudia Morgan
Today’s Mystery:

Nick and Nora are hoping for romance under a full moon. Instead, they stumble across a dead man being buried in the middle of the street.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: November 25, 1945

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Originating in New York:

Starring: Les Tremayne as Nick Charles; Claudia Morgan as Nora Charles; Larry Haines

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The Falcon: The Case of the Raw Deal (EP4371)

Les Damon

Today’s Mystery:

Mike Waring is hired by a group of businessmen who were robbed of $65,000 in cash at a high stakes poker game.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: December 10, 1950

Originating from New York

Starring: Les Damon as the Falcon; Ken Paxton as Sergeant Corbett; Larry Haines

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Dragnet: The Big Thank You (EP4370)

Today’s Mystery: A parole officer asks Friday and Romero to look into the apparent disappearance of a woman who had a convicted murderess paroled to her.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: March 9, 1950

Originating from Hollywood

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

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Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Burning Carr Matter (EP4369)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

Johnny goes to Sarasota to investigate a series of fires at lumber yards, and finds himself investigating a murder.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates: December 9, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Virginia Gregg; Parley Baer; Vic Perrin; Bob Bruce; Harry Bartell; Vivi Janiss; Tony Barrett; Junius Matthews

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

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Mr. Chameleon: The Roof Garden Murder Case (EP4368)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

A woman is pushed off the roof of an eighteen-story building.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: June 15, 1949

Originated from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

Information from Kootenai County on Clark House

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