Monday, November 30, 2015

The African Queen (LXRT)

This is a neat and entertaining adaptation of the movie. Humphrey reprises his role with the expected skill, but you'll sure miss hearing Katherine do her part. Katherine's replacement, Greer Garson, is good, but it just isn't the same. I love the live sound of Lux Radio Theatre; the soft laughter of the live audience is oh so pleasing.

Lux Radio Theatre #807
The African Queen
15 December 1952
Sponsored by Lux, Silver Dust, Chlorodent Tooth Paste. Humphrey Bogart, Greer Garson, Irving Cummings (host), Ken Carpenter (announcer), Rudy Schrager (music director), John Dodsworth, Hans Conried, Harold Dryanforth, Dorothy Lovett (commercial spokesman: as "Libby"), Zsa Zsa Gabor (intermission guest), James Agee (screenwriter), John Huston (screenwriter), C. S. Forester (author), Earl Ebi (director), Sanford Barnett (adaptor), Charlie Forsyth (sound effects).

Humphrey Bogart, still from The African Queen (1951)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Hasty Will (NANW)

A rich man gives Nero $1,000 to hang on to his latest will, which leaves everything to his daughter, including a portrait of his dead wife. He then apparently suicides before his estranged twin brother from Australia, Hillary, arrives in town.

The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe #19
The Hasty Will
2 March 1951
NBC net. Sydney Greenstreet, John Edison (writer), J. Donald Wilson (producer, director), Harry Bartell, William Johnstone, Don Stanley (announcer), Victor Rodman, Louise Arthur, Hal Gerard, Rex Stout (creator).

Sydney Greenstreet as Nero in the orchid house

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Railroad (GUNS)

Libby Segar, an old widow, refuses to leave her land for the railroad right of way. Matt is forced to take action. 

"You know Chester, sometimes progress is hard to come by."

This is a great episode where Matt feels the pinch of being the sheriff. He is caught between what is right in terms of human decency and what is right in terms of the law of the land. The episode is interesting because it is reportedly a rehearsal recording and is missing some of the typical music and extra sound effects. It is also missing the end credits.

Gunsmoke #
The Railroad (rehearsal show)
26 September 1952
CBS net. William Conrad, Parley Baer, Georgia Ellis, Howard McNear, John Dehner, Jeanette Nolan (Libby), Tom Tully, David Ellis (writer). 

Jeanette Nolan

Friday, November 27, 2015

Doc Holliday (GUNS)

On his way to Tombstone, Doc Holliday drifts through Dodge where he has some unfinished business with Big Jack Finley.

Gunsmoke #13
Doc Holliday
19 July 1952
CBS Net. Harry Bartell (Doc Holliday), Herb Purdum (writer), Lee Millar Jr., Nestor Paiva, Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), Parley Baer, Ralph Moody, Rex Koury (composer, performer), Roy Rowan (announcer), Tom Tully, William Conrad.

Harry Bartell

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Devil Car (MWEB)

Murdock and his sentient car, Jenny, try to track down the leader of a herd of wild smartcars gone bad. How bad? The cars have "monoed" their drivers (killed them off with carbon monoxide) so that they can roam free, run over pedestrians, and steal fuel. The titular devil car, a black caddy that killed Murdock's brother, has eluded all attempts at capture. He's tricky - repainting himself, keeping a corpse in the driver's seat to look tame, etc.

This one has so many nice touches. It's really worth listening to a few times or once intently to catch all the cool little bits. For instance:

He chuckled.  "Cars actually swear at each other?"
        "Occasionally," she said.  "I imagine the lower sort indulge in it more frequently, especially on freeways and turnpikes when they become congested."
        "Let me hear a swear-word."
        "I will not.  What kind of car do you think I am, anyway?"
        "I'm sorry," said Murdock.  "You're a lady.  I forgot."
        There was an audible click within the radio. 

Here's another example of a throwaway detail that really fleshes in a whole world:

Jenny was a specially designed deathcar, built for him by the Archengineer of the Geeyem Dynasty...

This is Zelazny at his best.

Mind Webs
The Devil Car
20 October 1978
Roger Zelazny (author), Michael Hanson (narrator, Murdock?), Tricia Day (Jenny), Steve Gordon (technical production).

Roger Zelazny

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Maze (MWEB)

A beautifully-written and deeply creepy story about a horrific laboratory, filled with genetically-altered subjects that are forced into the most elaborate maze ever created.

This story blew my mind. At first I was a little put off by the gimmick of referring to the main character only as "she." It seemed clear there was something different/wrong about her, and the nature of that oddity was suggested by the subject of the story. However, as the tale unfolded I kept trying to figure out what she was and the answer got weirder and weirder. And then, well, there was a scene that just shocked the hell out of me. I don't want to spoil it.

The story was published in Orbit 17, 1975. Orbit was a very successful, 19-volume series of science fiction anthologies edited by Damon Knight. Mind Webs was not really audio drama in the strict sense of the definition. It was a 1970's series created for WHA Radio in Wisconsin that featured Michael Hanson reading science fiction stories from some of the genre's best known authors. The readings were enhanced by music, periodic sound cues, and the occasional character voice.

Hanson's narration doesn't do the story any favors. At one point he seems to be rushing and kind of butchers a critical scene. But overall it's acceptable and the quality of the narration is actually irrelevant; it's worth hearing even with a mediocre reader.

Mind Webs
The Maze
1 September 1978
Stuart Dybek (author), Michael Hanson (narrator).

Stuart Dybek

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Road to Wickenberg (HGWT)

Paladin takes a slug of drugged whisky in a strange town and is robbed by the town's controlling family. He meets a woman who is "something besides pretty."

Have Gun, Will Travel #2
Road to Wickenberg
30 November 1958
CBS net. Sponsored by: Kent, Lysol. The script was used on the "Have Gun, Will Travel" television series on October 25, 1958. Ben Wright, Eve McVeagh, Frank Gerstle, Harry Bartell, Hugh Douglas (announcer), Jack Edwards, John Dehner, Lynn Allen, Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), Vic Perrin, Gene Roddenberry (writer), John Dawson (adaptor), Bill James (sound effects), Tom Hanley (sound effects), Herb Meadow (creator), Sam Rolfe (creator).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Strange Vendetta (HGWT)

Paladin accompanies the body of Don Miguel Rojas into Mexico to protect it from being defiled by a rival family.

A good episode with a few surprises! The audio is a bit muffled.

Have Gun Will Travel #1
Strange Vendetta
23 November 1958
CBS net. Sponsored by Kent, Lysol. The script was used on the Have Gun, Will Travel television series on October 26, 1957. John Dehner, Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), Hugh Douglas (announcer), Ben Wright, Lillian Buyeff, Harry Bartell, Joseph Kearns, Howard Culver, Ralph Moody, Vic Perrin, Ken Kolb (writer), John Dawson (adaptor), Bill James (sound effects), Tom Hanley (sound effects), Herb Meadow (creator), Sam Rolfe (creator).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

If You Was a Moklin (XMIN)

A clever and humorous story about copy-cat aliens.

"Clever and humorous" describes about every story ever written by Murray Leinster. While not exactly hard-hitting science ficiton, Leinsters stories are always a good listen. 

X Minus One #
If You Was a Moklin
12 June 1956
NBC net. Daniel Sutter (director, transcriber), Dick Janaver, Ernest Kinoy (adaptor), Fred Collins (announcer), Helen Gerald, John Marley, Joseph Julian, Karl Weber, Kenneth Banghart (announcer), Murray Leinster (author), Patricia Weil, Ralph Camargo, Stan Early, William Welch (producer). 

Murray Leinster

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Pail of Air (ESCP)

This is a solid adaptation of A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber, a cool little short story about Earth after a "dark star" has passed and pulled our planet out of the Sun's orbit.

Here is a small review I did of the original story, which you can read in its original form (a scan of the December 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine) at

Well, this is a ridiculous story, but it is nonetheless somehow gripping. So what's ridiculous? Let's start with the premise: a "dark star" passes and snatches Earth out of the sun's orbit. All the air on the planet freezes, in different layers. The narrator of the story is a boy who lives in a tiny room baffled by layers of blanket doors. Every so often a family member goes out to fill a pail full of frozen oxygen and bring it in to melt. Also silly is the sexism, and funny references to the world gone by, and ... Hmph. You just have to accept all that. Keep it in the corner of your vision and agree not to look at it. The funny thing is, if you do that for a while, it all starts to feel more believable.

So what is compelling? Well there's a sense of empty sadness. It reminds me of The Road.

"You know that game we sometimes play, sitting in a square in the Nest, tossing a ball around? Courage is like a ball, son. A person can hold it only so long, and then he's got to toss it to someone else. When it's tossed your way, you've got to catch it and hold it tight -- and hope there'll be someone else to toss it to when you get tired of being brave."

And there's the desciptions of the frozen people, which is sad and creepy.

And then there's how it all ends ...

X Minus One #44
A Pail of Air
28 March 1956

NBC net. Richard Hamilton, Rita Lloyd, Ronald Liss, George Lefferts (adaptor), William Welch (producer), Daniel Sutter (director), Eleanor Phelps, Fritz Leiber Jr. (author), Joe DeSantis, Pamela Fitzmaurice, Fred Collins (announcer). 

The opening pages of A Pail of AirGalaxy Magazine, December 1951

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Study in Wax (ESCP)

Two men, stuck together in an arctic cabin for six months, get on each other's last nerve.

"And we got drunk. We got red-eyed drunk! And we talked about ... women ... and ourselves ... and our dreams. And it was sloppy and it was great. The kind of haze you get when it doesn't matter, and you're feeling good about everything. And it was fine! Until ... Cabell decided it was time to hear some music."

This is a solid show. I was really sucked in and hanging on every word to see what would happen. Pretty realistic! The show's wrap up is missing, but it seems like the last line of the script is delivered before the show cuts off. The script was subsequently used on the August 16, 1955 episode of Suspense. I'll hunt that one down and add notes on it to this post when I have listened to it. 

Escape #168
A Study in Wax
1 February 1953
CBS net. William Conrad, Antony Ellis (writer), Stacy Harris, Norman Macdonnell (director).

Stacy Harris

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Squaw (BLKM)

A "quaint" Nebraskan is traveling through Europe and wants to see the Iron Virgin of Nuremberg. An unfortunate incident with a cat on the way up to the castle casts a pall over the venture.

This is an abridged reading of The Squaw, a great little short story by Bram Stoker. The story was first published in the December 2, 1893 issue of Holly Leaves: The Christmas Number of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News. The reading is solid, but nearly ruined by the most unrealistic cat noises ever!

In case you don't know, the Iron Virgin is a torture device of questionable origin. Scholars think they were cobbled together to promote tourism and weren't actually used. Check out the Wikipedia article on Nuremberg for some pics of the castle.

Black Mass #4
The Squaw
4 January 1964
KPFA/KPFK, Los Angeles/Berkeley. Bram Stoker (author), Bernard Mayes, John Whiting (technical production), Erik Bauersfeld (adaptor, producer), Jack Nessel (creator).

The Iron Maiden on display at the San Diego Museum of Man

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Last Laugh Murder Case (MYPH)

Nero Wolfe seeks to prove himself worthy of being included in the rolls of famous detectives of yesteryear.

This one is for the Nero Wolfe completists. The audio quality is fairly rough and, while the show has the typical Nero Wolfe formula, the production may not be as well executed as the later New Adventures of Nero Wolfe.

The dates attached to this show's file may be incorrect. There is a 2-3 minute preview of the next show, a mystery by Ellery Queen, at the end.

Mystery Playhouse #2
The Last Laugh Murder Case
25 April 1944
Blue net origination, AFRS rebroadcast. Peter Lorre (introduction), Santos Ortega, Luis Van Rooten, Rex Stout (creator).

Peter Lorre, one of the most interesting faces and voices in old Hollywood

Monday, November 16, 2015

Voodoo (LIME)

In Haiti, Harry teams up with a con-lady to cheat a loud-mouthed American.

Featuring a cheese-cloth plot and a pretty insulting look at Haitians. Why did anyone like this show?

The Lives Of Harry Lime #5
31 August 1951
Lang-Worth syndication. Orson Welles, Anton Karas (zither), Harry Alan Towers (producer), Tig Roe (director), Graham Greene (creator), Sidney Torch (music), Suzanne Cloutier.

Suzanne Cloutier

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Day the Earth Stood Still (LXRT)

An alien visitor from a far planet gives mankind a final chance to achieve world peace.

This is a pretty good dramatization of the famous 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, which is in turn based on the short story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates. Farewell to the Master was first published in the October 1940 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. The story was later reprinted in the October 1953 issue of the same magazine, which featured a remarkable piece of cover art from the, then unknown, Kelly Freas. The Freas illustration was later modified and used as the album cover for Queen's 1977 News of the World album (featuring We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You).

I've always felt like the movie, while great, stretched the premise a bit thin. It was 92 minutes. (The remake is 104!) I still feel like that with this 60 minute dramatization. I would love to have some of the details pared away and hear this as a 30 minute show that ends with the shooting of Klaatu. In my opinion, that is pretty much the whole point of the show and where all of its dramatic impact lies.

Lux Radio Theatre #862
The Day the Earth Stood Still
4 January 1954
CBS net. Irving Cummings (host), Ken Carpenter (announcer), Rudy Schrager (music director), Paul Frees (narrator), Herb Butterfield, Lamont Johnson, Tudor Owen, Billy Gray, Edith Evanson, William Conrad, Tyler McVey, Robert Griffin, Tom Brown, Frederick Shields, Marvin Bryan, Shepard Menken, Alastair Duncan, Steven Roberts, Ottola Nesmith, Michael Rennie, Jean Peters, Edward Marr, Edmund North (screenwriter), Henry Bates (author), Milton Geiger (adaptor), Earl Ebi (director), Charlie Forsyth (sound effects).

Kelly Freas illustration for Farewell to the Master

Saturday, November 14, 2015

She (ESCP)

Two men venture into Africa to uncover the mystery of "She Who Must Be Obeyed."

This is a good radio adaptation of a fantasy, adventure story by H. Rider Haggard. I was a little nonplussed by the story, both in its text form and consequently this dramatization, but there are some really interesting elements in it. It is atmospheric, exotic, and weird in the kind of way you want your late 1800's British literature to be. Kaye Brinker's voice is husky and amazing, a great choice for She.

Escape #46
11 July 1948

CBS net. Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), H. Rider Haggard (author), Les Crutchfield (adaptor), John Dunkel (editor), Berry Kroeger, Kaye Brinker, Lawrence "Larry" Dobkin, Ben Wright, Wilms Herbert. 

Henry Rider Haggard

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mutiny on the Bounty (CBPH)

A radio dramatization of the true story of the mutiny on board the HMS Bounty. Captain Bligh was apparently a tyrannical, capricious, and egotistical leader, though modern authors and filmmakers have painted him a bit more sympathetically than he appears in this version. Acting lieutenant Fletcher Christian was a primary target for Bligh's cruelty and led a rebellion, setting the captain adrift in an overcrowded, open boat, with almost no hope of making land.

This is a great story, but only an okay dramatization. My opinion may be colored by a general lack of appreciation for Orson Welles. I acknowledge that he has a good voice, but increasingly in his career it becomse apparent that the number one fan of Orson Welles voice was Orson Welles.

Welles ends with a speech in praise of ham radio operators and talks with Dorothy Hall, a ham radio operator who helped the residents of Pitcairn Island during a "recent" (1938) epidemic. Though hammy (get it?), it's an interesting way of drawing a line between the story and the present day. Knowing where Christian ultimately ended up landing the Bounty, we can read about the fate of the mutineers and, through the magic of Google Earth, look at their remote island home.

Campbell's Playhouse #6
Mutiny on the Bounty
13 January1939
CBS net. Sponsored by: Campbell's Soup. Burgess Meredith, Carl Frank, Dorothy Hall, Edgar Barrier, Ernest Chappell (announcer), Frank Readick, Joseph Cotten, Memo Holt, Myron McCormick, Orson Welles (host), Ray Collins (narrator), Richard Wilson, William Alland. 

Pitcairn Island, where the Bounty's mutineers ended up. Look how far out I had to zoom to get geographical context. It's almost literally in the middle of nowhere. French Polynesia is about 1/2 the distance between Pitcairn and Australia. If you search it up on Google Maps you will get some beautiful pics of the island, and if you switch to Google Earth view you will get another perspective on how far removed the island is from any major land mass. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bathysphere (LOUT)

A political thriller about a scientist and a dictator sharing a deep sea diving bell. 

Thriller may be too strong a word for it. Call it a dramatic dialogue; it's slow but interesting. Solid performances by Hans Conried and George Zucco lend credibility to an otherwise contrived premise in which the oppressed is allowed to confront the oppressor.

What's probably more interesting is the real story of the bathysphere.

Fom Greek words that translate to "deep sphere," the bathysphere was a unique spherical deep-sea submersible that was unpowered and lowered into the ocean on a cable. It was designed in 1928 and 1929 by the American engineer Otis Barton, to be used by the naturalist William Beebe for studying undersea wildlife off the coast of Bermuda. Beebe and Barton conducted a number of dives in the Bathysphere together, marking the first time that a marine biologist observed deep-sea animals in their native environment. Their dives set several consecutive world records for the deepest dive ever performed by a human. The record set by the deepest of these, to a depth of 3,028 feet on August 15, 1934, lasted until it was broken by Barton in 1949.

[It just occurred to me how odd this show is, given the medium. The requirements for the soundscape are minimal; make the voices sound closed in and any communications with the surface sound electronic/remote. Maybe add a few bubble noises now and then. As far as audio drama goes, it's not very dramatic. There is no real change of scene and only two characters who don't move and can only interact with things within reach and that would logically be in a bathysphere. I'm sure it was very budget-conscious, at least!]

Lights Out
29 June 1943
Blue Network. Arch Oboler (writer), George Zucco, Hans Conried. 

Barton and Beebe with their bathysphere

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Northern LIghts (QPLS)

What do the aurora borealis, time travel, and wooly worms have in common? Listen and find out.

I love this one so much. I love how it is told through "actual recordings" and happens contemporary to the broadcast date. I love how it references real world events (snow in LA). I love how it takes a completely ridiculous premise and makes it genuinely entertaining and creepy. The only bad thing about this show is trying to get the eerie A-E-I-O-U song out of your head afterward.

Quiet Please #85
Northern Lights
30 January 1949

ABC net. Albert Buhrman (organist), Cecile Roy, Daniel Sutter (performer), Ernest Chappell (announcer), Wyllis Cooper (host, writer, director)

Northern Lights photographed by Yuichi Takasaka

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Demon Tree (DRKF)

A group of vacationers decide to investigate the story of a local demon tree that stalks the forest killing all the descendants of a cursed family.

So bad. So, so bad. It has clear audio! That's a plus. But let's start with the fact that none of the actors even try to do an accent, despite the fact that they are all supposed to be British. They just throw in occasional trite English phrases. Aside from that, their vacillation between belief and disbelief, even after witnessing some weird stuff, is idiotic (though maybe not any more so than typical horror films). I just wish it were hilariously rather than pathetically bad, because then I could love it for different reasons.

Dark Fantasy #4
The Demon Tree
5 December 1941
NBC net, WKY, Oklahoma City origination. Scott Bishop (writer), Eleanor Naylor Corin, Ben Morris, Murillo Scofield, Keith Peyton (announcer), Garland Moss.

I Googled "Scary Tree" and the Internet did not disappoint!

Monday, November 9, 2015

No Contact (DIMX, XMIN)

Space exploration has hit a wall, literally. The Great Galactic Barrier has swallowed up five spaceships. The Star Cloud, a ship with new radiation shielding, is ready to make another run, but look out for "space blues."

This is a really corny show, but I have kind of a soft spot for it in my heart nonetheless. The gibberish-science and the pervading "watch the skies!" sort of alien panic ... good stuff.

Others must have agreed with me because the show was remade (not just rebroadcast) for episode 27 of Dimension X and then again for the opening episode of X Minus One. Of the three I think I prefer Dimension X #27, but they are all extremely similar.

Dimension X #4
No Contact
29 April 1950
NBC net. Ernest Kinoy (writer), George Lefferts (writer, adaptor), Wendell Holmes, Lawson Zerbe, John McGovern, Norman Rose (host), Van Woodward (producer), Edward King (director), Bob Warren (announcer).

Dimension X #27
No Contact
28 October 1950
NBC net. Ernest Kinoy (writer), George Lefferts (writer, adapter), Luis Van Rooten, Donald Buka, Cameron Prud'Homme, Matt Crowley, Wendell Holmes, John McGovern, Norman Rose (host), Van Woodward (producer), Edward King (director), Bob Warren (announcer).

X Minus One #1
No Contact
24 April 1955
NBC net. Bill Smith, Donald Buka, Ernest Kinoy (writer), George Lefferts (writer, adaptor), Ken Williams, Luis Van Rooten, Matt Crowley, Wendell Holmes, William Griffis, Don Pardo (announcer), Fred Weihe (director), William Welch (producer).

Truetone D2017 "Boomerang" Bakelite Radio (1950)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Competition (DIMX)

A woman emigrating to the frontier of inhabited space finds herself dumped on the wrong planet and involved in corporate espionage.

This show makes me sad (and not in a good way). The set up of a group of colonists being dumped on a single planet, instead of all the places they bought tickets for its good ... but it's a total red herring and has virtually nothing to do with the plot. So, that's just wasted time. The second setup of an ethical business genius who is outsmarting the whole herd of unethical bloodsucking moguls is great, and deftly handled right up to the point where it falls apart. The ending is just kind of pathetic. If it even makes sense, which I don't really think it does, it's fairly disappointing to me.

Dimension X #30
19 November 1950
NBC net. Albert Buhrman (music), Bill Chambers (engineer), E. M. Hull (author), Edward King (director), Elaine Rost, Ernest Kinoy (adaptor), Les Tremayne, Norman Rose (host), Van Woodward (producer), Bob Warren (announcer), Joseph Julian, Ed Latimer, Staats Cotsworth, John McGovern, Peter Capell. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Man of the Crowd (BLKM)

An abridged short story from Edgar Allan Poe, the title is incorrectly announced as The Man in (rather than of) the Crowd. It's a small, but important distinction. A man in a coffee house is observing the faces of those passing by when he settles on a decrepit old man whose face seems to harbor a dark secret. Fascinated the narrator follws the old man all over London.

The opening paragraph of the short story illustrates the theme:

It was well said of a certain German book that “er lasst sich nicht lesen “ — it does not permit itself to be read. There are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told. Men die nightly in their beds, wringing the hands of ghostly confessors, and looking them piteously in the eyes — die with despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man takes up a burthen so heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only into the grave. And thus the essence of all crime is undivulged.

The story ends with the narrator's realization that he will never learn the old man's secret (if he even has one), because "he doesn't permit himself to be read."

So yeah, this is a "Seinfeldian" story in which nothing really happens. Still good, though!

Black Mass #17
The Man of the Crowd
KPFA/KPFK, Los Angeles/Berkeley. Edgar Allan Poe (author), Bernard Mayes, Erik Bauersfeld (adaptor, producer), Jack Whiting (technical production), Jack Nessel (creator).

John Whiting

Friday, November 6, 2015

Triple Cross (BX13)

A letter dropped in box 13 instructs Dan to go to the casino and bet on 22 on the roulette wheel, twice. $120,000 later, Dan finds himself on the wrong end of a Mickey.

One of the better Box Thirteen episodes I've heard.

Box Thirteen #12
Triple Cross
7 November 1948
Mutual net origination, Mayfair syndication. Commercials added locally. Alan Ladd, Sylvia Picker, Richard Sanville (director), Russell Hughes (writer), Rudy Schrager (composer, conductor), Vern Carstensen (production supervisor).

Alan Ladd

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Alvin Summers Matter (YTJD)

Following a lead from an anonymous caller, Johnny Dollar heads to Santa Tomas, a sleepy fishing town south of the border hoping to make a go of it as a tourist stop. There he tries to track down Alvin Summers, an embezzler who fled the US with $75,000.

The Bob Bailey run on Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar is the absolute best detective fiction I've heard in vintage radio drama. I can't say enough good things about it. Great voices, good gumshoe dialogue that is snappy without being too hammy, plots that will keep you guessing ... marvelous.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar #248-252
The Alvin Summers Matter, parts 1-5
24-30 October 1955
CBS net. Bob Bailey, Robert Ryf (writer), Jack Johnstone (producer, director), Virginia Gregg, Don Diamond, Parley Baer, Roy Rowan (announcer).

Bob Bailey

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Billy the Kid (GUNS)

A Dutchman is the target of a lynch mob after the whole town accuses him of murder and, to complicate things, Matt and Festus have to deal with a runaway kid.

... and this is why the series Gunsmoke ran for 12 years and roughly 500 episodes. Solid writing coupled with interesting and complex characters, set in a dark and dangerous time in U.S. history. The ending of this episode still surprises listeners, despite the fact that a number of hints are dropped.

Gunsmoke #1
Billy the Kid
26 April 1952
CBS net. Don Diamond, Parley Baer, Georgia Ellis (as the widow of the dead man, not Miss Kitty!), Howard McNear, Harry Bartell, Dick Beals, Paul Dubov, Mary Lansing, Rex Koury (composer, conductor), Norman Macdonnell (producer, director), William Conrad, Walter Newman (writer), Roy Rowan (announcer). 

Don Diamond was a popular go-to man for any character with an accent, first in radio then on TV.

Billy the Kid

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jacob's Hands (CBSW)

A simple-minded farmhand discovers his hands have the power to heal.

This is a promising sort of story that goes off the rail in a few places. The story is filled with not-ver-nice people, some believably so and some not. And the ending is extremely preachy. Honestly, I wanted Jacob to do something drasting, like shove his hands in a fire or something to "ruin" them. (Am I sick?) Anyway, I think this could have been a good modern "superhero" story about a guy with special powers, but it doesn't quite get there for me.

CBS Radio Workshop #12
Jacob's Hands
12 April 1956
CBS net. Aldous Huxley (author), Christopher Isherwood (author, narrator), Hans Conried, Harry Bartell, Helen Kleeb, Herb Butterfield, Janet Stewart, John Dehner, Lawrence Dobkin, Parley Baer, Vic Perrin, Virginia Gregg, William Conrad. 

Christopher Isherwood