Night Beat

Listen to “The Great Detectives Present Night Beat” on Spreaker.

Night Beat was originally conceived as a hard-boiled newspaper drama but ended up taking an entirely different direction. The pilot was commissioned in 1949 and was directed by William Rousseau who directed the hardest of hard-boiled detective programs such as Pat Novak for Hire and The New Adventures of Michael Shayne. The pilot starred future Johnny Dollar star Edmond O’Brien and reflected those sensibilities. The pilot wasn’t picked up.

The series was retooled with Warren Lewis taking over as Producer/Director and Frank Lovejoy taking the lead. The result? A series that managed to mix a hard-boiled, world-weary perspective with intelligent, sensitive, and thought-provoking scripts filled with superb characters and played by some of the best radio actors of the Golden Age.

The series lasted for 112 episodes and there was a backdoor pilot for a television version that aired as part of Four Star Playhouse. After it’s cancellation, the series was redone in Australia by Grace Gibson ProductionsIn 2012, Radio Archives released a short story edition as an audiobook and an ebook featuring further adventure of Randy Stone: A sign of how the series has continued to be loved by fans of great radio drama across the decades:

About the Stars:
Edmund O’Brien (1915-85) became the second on-air Johnny Dollar in February 1950. O’Brien had previously played an insurance investigator in the 1947 film The Killers. He’d previously tried to break in to hardboiled radio drama when he recorded the pilot episode for Nightbeat, but the role instead went to Frank Lovejoy. Growing up O’Brien was the next door neighbor to Harry Houdini, and he had his first break in acting in Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater. After O’Brien left Johnny Dollar after the 1951-52 season, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for his role in The Barefoot Contessa. He got a second Golden Globe and a nomination for a second Oscar ten years later for his role in Seven Days in May. Over the course of his long career in film and television, O’Brien played in every genre and a wide variety of roles. From a poisoned accountant trying to solve his own Murder in DOA to the heavy in Pete Kelly’s Blues, the role of Crowley in The Further Adventures of Gallegher, Syndicated Private Detective Johnny Midnight, and much more. O’Brien left behind a legacy that his Johnny Dollar performances compliment. For more on Mr. O’Brien, visit this great fan website.

Frank Lovejoy Frank Lovejoy 1912-62-Frank Lovejoy enjoyed one great hit starring role in his career as reporter with a heart Randy Stone in Nightbeat. The program a fan favorite for its mixture of suspense, mystery, and true human drama. However, Lovejoy’s contributions go far beyond that. He began as an actor on programs such as Jungle Jim and The Columbia Workshop and was the first announcer on This is Your FBI. Lovejoy continued to provide solid dramatic support for the latter days of radio’s golden age, frequently lending his talents to Suspense from 1957-59. Throughout his career, Lovejoy did well through his ability to create believable characters whether it was a heavy on Box 13, a cop after typical mugs in an episode of The Damon Runyan Theater, or one of Luigi Bosco’s typical comic foils in Life with Luigi. While Lovejoy never had a huge success with his television programs (both his detective shows Man Against Crime and The Adventures of McGraw were short-lived) but provided so many great character performances that he received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Episode log:

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Christmas Episode Played Out of Order:

Special Rebroadcasts:

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