Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 235 – You Take Ballistics

Howard DaSilva Fiction and film has its “Cop Noir” stories. Writers from the pulps wrote often in a cop noir style and radio followed. This time a look at the “cop noir” and a particular author whose work was adapted to radio often. The Cop Noir is a popular sub-genre with films like the new TV series Gotham to older film noirs such as The Third Voice with Edmund O’Brien.

Music under is “Blue into Green” performed by Miles Davis.

Revisiting the radio series O’Hara

I recently received an email from old time radio researcher extraordinaire, Stewart Wright, whose contributions to the old time radio community have proved invaluable.  He has researched the series I presented several podcasts ago about the foreign correspondent cum detective Bob O’Hara and produced a radio log on the series which can be found at

According to Stewart, there were 26 episodes the first year it aired in 1951 with Jack Moyles. The episode I aired in fact was not an audition, but rather was Episode 16. The show was then off the air, but revived in 1956 again with Moyles in the role for the first seven episodes followed by Stacy Harris for four more episodes.  Stewart’s log is a wonderful resource and as with his other work in old time radio, he has done a fabulous job.

In the many years I have been involved with old time radio writing and collecting, I have learned that with the rise of the Internet, there has been a plethora of mis-information. I urge use of the Internet as the only source to be approached with caution.  Stewart’s log on O’Hara is a fine example of what research should be.

Since I aired the podcast, I have been supplied with a second episode of this series, this one starring actor Stacy Harris.  I plan on airing this in an upcoming podcast with some of the corrections, I outline here.

My thanks to Stewart Wright for his corrections.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 234 – Easy Money

Larry Haines A short lived detective-magician series heard over NBC Radio in the early fifties starring Larry Haines (left). The series was not very good, though the production was quite good. Only five episodes seem to be in circulation and were created by George B. Anderson, and ad executive for The Chicago Tribune, who also wrote radio plays. Produced out of Chicago, the series included besides Haines, regulars including Maurice Tarplin (Mysterious Traveler).

Music under is “Easy Money” by Billy Joel.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 233 – Escape: Papa Benjamin

Frank Lovejoy Besides his fictional noir crime stories, author Cornell Woolrich under the pseudonym, William Irish, also explored exotic noir creating stories from the bayou among other locales. With Music From the Dark, aka Papa Benjamin, he created dark stories of voodoo and cult.

The CBS radio series Escape under William N Robeson and Norman MacDonnell, took Irish’s story and added smokey, dark jazz riffs built into a mystery story involving voodoo and created an even darker version of the original text. Story the gravelly-voiced Frank Lovejoy, the adaptation called Papa Benjamin takes on a life of its own to create an interesting study in human crime.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 232 – O’Hara

Jack MoylesWhen Rocky Jordan initially left the air in 1950, lead actor, Jack Moyles, found himself afloat.  He committed to the audition program you will hear in this podcast as the freelance foreign correspondent for a mythical San Francisco news organization. He was based in Hong Kong and would find himself covering stories of unusual character which often placed him in the role of a detective-type investigator.

This was an audition, and thus only this recording is the only one of the proposed series.  While it isn’t a great one, it is quite enjoyable to listen to anyway.  Also heard is a leading role turn by actor Ira Grossel who later changed his name to Jeff Chandler when he moved to films.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 231 – The McCoy

Howard Duff is Sam Spade.In 1947, the House Committee for UnAmerican Activities held nine days of hearings into alleged communist influence within Hollywood. Soon this expanded into other entertainment media including radio. Soon, more than 300 artists were boycotted by the studios.

On the list was Dashiell Hammett. When this expanded to the McCarthy Hearings in the early fifties, Howard Duff also appeared on the list.

Both of these events would spell doom for the radio detective series, The Adventures of Sam Spade, but listeners loved Duff in the roll. Though his film career was beginning to get some traction, there were others who still wanted him to come back to radio in something similar to Sam Spade. An audition that never made it to radio was created by David Friedkin and Morton Fine called The McCoy in an obvious Spade like roll for the actor.

Thanks to Martin Grams Jr’s book The Radio Adventures of Sam Spade.

Music under is Art Tatum playing “My Ideal.”

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 230 – Deadline at Dawn

Helen Walker Though there are not always good examples, “Deadline at Dawn” as heard over Suspense in 1948 was a shining example of radio noir. Taking a story from the father of noir fiction, Cornell Woolrich (William Irish), and adaptation by one of the best noirish scriptwriters, Irving Ravetch, it was the perfect marriage of true audio noir. One must also not take anything away from director Anton Leader, whose Suspense credits always prove worthy.

The excellent, but sadly forgotten, Helen Walker, film noir actress extraordinare, stars in this along with John Beal. But Walker is the star and this appearance is after her early Hollywood career was tumbling, but seemingly in some recovery mode.

Ravetch’s writing is simply superb, tense, taut and some of his best radio scripting. He went on to screenwrite, “The Long, Hot Summer,” “Hud,” “Hombre,” and “Norma Rae” among others.

A look at how the production works as a fine example of radio noir.

Music under is “Almost Blue” by the great Chet Baker.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 229 – The Saint

Denis Green A rare audition recording of the radio series The Saint which was made prior to the NBC version starring Edgar Barrier. This particular audition instead stars actor and writer, Denis Green, in the role of Simon Templar. Green is best known as part of the duo of Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, who wrote many non-canonical Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as well as The Casebook of Gregory Hood for radio.

This audition is a story called “The Miracle Tea Party” (long before the current “tea parties.”) and features Leslie Charteris, the Saint/Simon Templer creator/author on the recording.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 228 – The Adventures of the Thin Man

Les Damon In celebration of the 73rd anniversary of the premier of the Adventures of the Thin Man on radio, a rarely heard episode from 1942 – the earliest available. This one is from an Armed Forces Radio disc as part of their “Frontline Theater.”

While the radio series was not as good as the films, they are still enjoyable to listen to. This early episode was while they were still getting the series to flow well. Les Damon and Claudia Morgan star as Nick & Nora Charles.

Music under is Suzanne Vega singing “The Thin Man” along with Fred Astaire on two from one of his album compilations.

Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 227 – The Adventures of Christopher London

Glenn Ford A little heard series since only 3 episodes exist of actor Glenn Ford starring as detective for hire Christopher London. This was on the air briefly at the height of his popularity in film. The first episode of this short-lived series.

Music under is Nicholas Payton with the theme from the film Chinatown.