Category Archives: mystery/thriller

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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28 March: The climb of Suspense

If I ever do any more radio work, I want to do it on Suspense, where I get a good chance to act.

Cary Grant.

The play was the thing, and [the performers] knew that contributing to a superior product would enhance their reputations far more than reading some feeble film condensation. Suspense was one of radio’s glamour showcases, but it never seemed to be trading on celebrity. People like Henry Fonda, Frederic March, and Humphrey Bogart appeared each week, but in scripts fine-tuned to their talents. [Creator-director] William Spier became known as ‘the Hitchcock of the airlanes.’ With the stars he was flexible; he required little rehearsal, just a few hours before air time. He wanted them tense at the microphone. They rewarded him with performances that were almost uniformly fine, matching the levels achieved by their underpaid supporting players, the professional radio people.

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13 January: Woolrich, Suspense, and Lucy

Cornell Woolrich, at the height of his career as a crime novelist.

Cornell Woolrich, at the height of his career as a crime novelist.

Cornell Woolrich is sometimes thought to have been the fourth-best mystery novelist in America in his time, behind Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Raymond Chandler. Issues involving his estate will prove the main reason, it will be said, why early 21st Century crime fiction lovers will not find many of his works still in print beyond a few new collections of short stories published in the 1990s.

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