Author: Yours Truly Johnny Blogger

Sheriff of Cochise: Vapor Lock (Video Theater 266)

Two robbers feign car trouble and steal a traveling salesman’s car.

Season 1, Episode 25 

Original Air Date: March 15, 1957

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Police Headquarters: KO’d and Infiltrating the Mob (EP4322s)

Today’s Episodes:

Episode 18:

A police captain takes in a night at the fights and finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation when the winning boxer drops dead.

Episode 20:

An officer goes undercover in hopes of recovering uncut diamonds stolen from a jewelry store.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: 1932

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A Look at the Hardy Family

A big Hollywood studio grabs at a recently popular film franchise from the past, turns it into a series, and uses it as a centerpiece of a new package of programs. Sounds like the story of the latest Netflix/Disney/Paramount series.

It actually happened in 1949. MGM launched MGM Radio Attractions, a package of syndicated radio programs that would eventually land on the Mutual Broadcasting System. While there were some original series not based on any actual movies, and they would add the British-produced Black Museum in 1951, MGM leaned heavily into their film legacy. MGM played into its back catalog of film hits with MGM Theatre of the Air adapting old MGM movies as a sort of low-budget answer to The Lux Radio Theatre, and then it took its short film series, Crime Does Not Pay, and turned that into a radio series. It had Ann Sothern reprise her role in the ten Maisie films in The Adventures of Maisie. Lew Ayers and Lionel Barrymore were invited to pick up their stethoscopes and play their parts from the Dr. Kildare series. And to bring us to our subject, Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, and Fay Holden were invited to bring the Hardy Family of fifteen films to radio.

The Hardy Family first appeared in a 1928 play called Skidding, which was adapted to film in 1937, A Family Affair, and featured sixteen-year-old Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy, with his father played by Barrymore. It was decided to make a series centered around the Hardy family, with Stone cast to play Judge Hardy and Fay Holden to play his wife Emily. The series was popular, although the one public domain entry and final film, “Love Laughs at Andy Hardy” may be the best-known to non-fans. The series follows Hardy as he grows up and goes through the pangs of life and young adulthood and all the various misadventures that happen along the way.

Of all the major film tie-ins, this is probably the one that has fared worst in terms of serving episodes and quality of recordings, although they’re still listenable. There were likely 78 episodes made, but there are maybe a dozen that you could collect from various websites. The Internet Archive has a decent sample of what’s out there. In reducing Hardy’s adventures from feature-length films to half hour radio programs, the result is much more typical sitcom fare. The radio series didn’t feature the film character of Aunt Milly, and while some lost episodes might mention her, it appears that Andy Hardy’s sister went the way of Chuck Cunningham, as all dialogue seems to indicate that Andy is an only child.

Most of the episodes center on something happening to Andy which he views as magnificently stupendous and the most amazing thing to ever happen to anyone. Invariably it’s not, and there’s no chance for it to be. And the comedy ultimately centers on his over-the-top expectations and imagination meeting reality.

This is a series where the scripts are decent, but nothing amazing. What ultimately makes the series are the performances. Mickey Rooney brought massive, manic energy to the role. These stories had to be faced and he powered through each episode with one of the most energetic performances you’ll ever hear. Fay Holden plays Emily Hardy with a sort of eccentricity that’s reminiscent of a more low-key Gracie Allen. Lewis Stone’s Judge Hardy is a calm voice of reason that brings balance to the stories. With their work in film, they play off each other beautifully.

The series lacks a lot of the heart of films, which included some moments that brought heart and sentiment that the radio series lacks. But it also doesn’t undermine the films. If you want a decent sitcom with a talented cast who gives each script their all, or if you’re a fan of the Andy Hardy films, this series is worth checking out.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Dragnet: The Roseland Roof Murders (EP4322)

Today’s Mystery:

Friday and Romero search for a trigger happy gang of hold-up men.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: December 29, 1949

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 Picture Postcard Matter, Episodes Three, Four, and Five (EP4321)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

Johnny searches a quaint Swiss ski resort for $100,000 ski resort while trying to avoid being the next person murdered.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates:October 3,4, and 5, 1956

Originated from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Lucille Meredith; Vic Perrin; Forrest Lewis; Stan Jones; Ben Wright

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Mr. Chameleon: The Case of the Bewildering Bowery Body (EP4320)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

A man is found in rags in the Bowery, but Chameleon finds evidence that the well-groomed man doesn’t belong there.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: April 20, 1949

Originating from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: Doctor Mitsuko Kidnapping (EP4319)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to Tokyo to get to the bottom of the kidnapping of a prominent scientist by Americans claiming to be with the U.S. government.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: February 18, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell, Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner, Paul Frees, Paul Dubov, Peter Leeds, Rye Bilsbury, Sidney Miller

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Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Picture Postcard Matter, Episodes One and Two (EP4318)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

Johnny goes to Zurich on the trail of $100,000 in stolen, uncut diamonds.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates: October 1 and 2, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Lucille Meredith; Vic Perrin; Forrest Lewis; Stan Jones; Ben Wright

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The Falcon: The Case of the Talented Twins (EP4317)

Les Damon

Today’s Mystery:

A woman hires Mike Waring to find a hit-and-run driver.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: October 1, 1950

Originating from New York

Starring: Les Damon as the Falcon; Ken Lynch as Sergeant Corbett; Mandel Kramer

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Dragnet: .22 Rifle for Christmas (EP4316)

Todays Mystery: A boy disappears before Christmas with his present – a .22 rifle.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: December 22, 1949

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday; Barton Yarborough as Sergeant Ben Romero; Herb Butterfield; Peggy Webber; William Johnstone

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Audio Drama Review: The Great Gildersleeve, Volume 7

The seventh volume of The Great Gildersleeve from Radio Archives features twelve episodes that aired between November 29, 1942 and April 4, 1943. This stretch of episodes continues along the same lines as previous volumes, with its typical cast of characters including his niece Marjorie and nephew Leroy, the cook Birdie, and key characters from around town, such as Judge Hooker, Mr. Peavey, and Floyd the Barber. Gildersleeve’s budding off-again on-again romance with Leila Ransom takes center stage. It also introduces the bashful and easily manipulated boyfriend of Marjorie, Ben (played by future Dragnet co-star Ben Alexander.)

Highlights of the season including a lovely Christmas episode, less with a centralized plot but more with a series of vignettes that capture someone trying to celebrate Christmas with good cheer even while being patriotic and operating on a limited budget.

The series also has a formal crossover with Fibber McGee and Molly (Jim and Marion Jordan), with radio’s most iconic comedy couple traveling from Wistful Vista to Summerfield, which is a nice moment for fans, as the Gildersleeve character started on Fibber McGee. This crossover occurs after Gildersleeve and his nephew Leroy (Walter Tetley) appear on the post-Christmas episode of Fibber McGee and Molly, in which the Jordans had been unable to appear due to a health issue.

The episode “Income Tax Time” is a fine patriotic episode about the importance of everyone reporting their income tax, as Gildersleeve struggles with whether to report his interest income. The great part of the episode is that through all the sincere patriotism, the episode has a hilarious twist ending that’s comedy gold.

On the war front, there is also an episode warning about the danger of over-vigilance and assuming the worst and getting paranoid, as Gildersleeve accidentally starts spreading a rumor about sabotage and creates all kinds of problems.

There’s nothing wrong with this set in terms of its audio quality. It collects the episodes that Radio Archives was able to lay its hands on with the highest quality available. Missing episodes are a fact of life for old time radio listeners but they’re especially felt here. The collection covers 19 weeks but there are only twelve episodes available. This leads to some changes occurring perhaps in missing episodes or off-screen. For example, Gildersleeve’s super-competent secretary disappears without explanation, and is replaced by barely competent help whom Gildersleeve keeps meaning to fire but never gets the time. In addition, the engagement between Leila and Gildersleeve is called off in one episode but apparently things are patched by the time the circulating episode was released four weeks later.

Probably the biggest challenge for many modern listeners to enjoy is the Gildersleeve-Leila Ransom relationship. While Leila fits into a comedy trope of the time, she’s messed up. She uses flattery to get men to do what she wants and to keep them competing with one another for her affection. She’s prone to over-the-top jealousy, and any deviation of plans to do something else is met with a manipulative, pouty statement like, “Well, Throckmorton, if working late because you’re in a job that oversees infrastructure in the middle of the War is more than me, that’s fine.” Lelia is well-played by a really talented actress, Shirley Mitchell, who played many of these sorst of characters. She does her best with the material given. Still, a bit of Leila can go a long way, and some of these episodes have a little bit too much.

Still, despite Leila’s antics, this is an enjoyable set. Ben is fun, and the barbershop setting helps to give the show a sense of rhythym. The show in its second season is clearly moving in the right direction.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Meg’s Palace Matter, Episodes Three, Four, and Five (EP4315)

Bob Bailey

Today’s Mystery:

After getting beat up outside of Meg’s place, Johnny is even more determined to find out who’s threatening to burn her out.

Original Radio Broadcast Dates: September 26, 27, and 28, 1956

Originating from Hollywood

Starring: Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar; Virginia Gregg; Jack Kruschen; Byron Kane; Forrest Lewis; Bert Holland; Stan Jones; Bob Bruce; Austin Green; Harry Bartell

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Mr. Chameleon: The Amazing Thomas and Blifton Murder Case (EP4314)

Karl Swenson

Today’s Mystery:

Two business partners send letters to the police alleging that the other is going to kill them. They’re found dead in their office, poisoned with different poisons.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: April 13, 1949

Originating from New York City

Starring: Karl Swenson as Mister Chameleon

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Dangerous Assignment: Family Squabble (EP4313)


Today’s Mystery:

Steve goes to the Belgian Congo to resolve a family dispute between two women that’s threatened the U.S. access to a strategic mineral mine.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: February 11, 1953

Originating in Hollywood

Starring: Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchel; Herb Butterfield as the Commissioner; Peter Leeds; Tony Barrett; Ben Wright; Betty Lou Gerson.

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Curtain Time: Romantic Development (AWR0239)

Amazing World of Radio

Today’s story:

A young architect has a big break, taking charge of development in a small Connecticut town. However, a beautiful woman and her grandfather are refusing to sell, and stand in the way.

Original Radio Broadcast Date: February 14, 1948

Originating in Chicago

Starring: Harry Elders and Nannette Sergeant

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