Category Archives: crime drama

31 December: Here’s to the New Year

It could have been better . . . it certainly could have been worse . . .  but now let’s say goodbye to 2015 the auld-time radio way, beginning (perhaps this will become a tradition in this space, too) with a legendary New Year’s Eve music special for American and other troops still scattered ’round in the immediate wake of World War II . . .

 

Various Artists: New Year’s Radio Dancing Party (Armed Forces Radio Service, 31 December 1945)

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24 December: ‘Tis the night before Christmas

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

One or another way, Christmas Eve broadcasts over classic (1927-62) network radio will survive to be heard by generations who weren’t alive when radio was the world’s primary conductor of home entertainment. These can be considered some of the finest gifts the era bequeathed, even unto generations jaded enough by video and cinematic excess and ubiquity that you fear their inability to appreciate what one radio show’s customary introduction called “the theater of the mind.”

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20 November: A twin triumph for Lurene Tuttle

Tuttle as twins, somehow. (Photo: CBS)

Tuttle as twins, somehow. (Photo: CBS)

The Whistler: Death Sees Double (CBS, 1944)

Yes, this is the same as the 6 November 1944 episode known first as “The Twins.” The  original performance was pre-empted, allowing CBS’s national network to carry a speech by Republican presidential aspirant Thomas E. Dewey, the former New York governor challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the first of Dewey’s two failed White House bids.

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2 March: The slings and arrows of Rocky Fortune

 

Sinatra. (Photo: NBC.)

Sinatra. (Photo: NBC.)

Depending upon whose analysis you heed, Frank Sinatra was either bored with or marking time with Rocky Fortune. The premise of starring Sinatra as a down on his luck temp worker stumbling his way into crime solving wasn’t necessarily a terrible one. As often as not Sinatra has seemed to go through the motions, to several critics and to many listeners.

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27 February: The beat didn’t last long enough

Frank Lovejoy. (Photo: NBC.)

Frank Lovejoy. (Photo: NBC.)

Enough of the better radio crime dramas had short lives as it was. Night Beat—in which versatile veteran Frank Lovejoy played a newspaper reporter instead of one of the usual gang of overboiled private detectives or police officers—had a shorter life than most and deserved better than most.

Randy Stone wasn’t even a hard newsman, never mind crime reporter. As he himself says in Night Beat‘s audition episode, he’s what a later generation would call the soft news type, looking for the stories “that grab your heart and shake it until it hollers ‘uncle’.” His particular forte is uncovering stories about those who’ve suffered the hardest knocks of life and caring about every individual about whom he writes.

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