Tag Archives: William Spier

28 March: A long, suspenseful road to success

Brian Donlevy as a blind sleuth tonight. (Photo: CBS.)

Brian Donlevy as a blind sleuth tonight. (Photo: CBS.)

Because its reputation will merely increase with time, as network radio’s classic era recedes further and further in the rearview mirror of American entertainment, it might be difficult for 21st Century fans to believe that it took several seasons before Suspense proved anything close to a ratings hit commensurate with its image as radio’s most sophisticated thriller.

Launched (as was Duffy’s Tavern) by way of the CBS anthology series Forecast in 1940, before becoming a full-time series in 1942, Suspense didn’t exactly begin with a bang—the show was nowhere to be found in Wednesday night’s top ten for 1942-43, and you’d have needed a homing pigeon to contact it past the overal top fifty.

Posted in Adventure, classic radio, comedy, mystery/thriller, old-time radio | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

27 March: The misadventures around Sam Spade

Lurene Tuttle and Howard Duff. (Photo: CBS.)

Lurene Tuttle and Howard Duff. (Photo: CBS.)

Howard Duff “was a seasoned but insung veteran” of radio when he bumped into the radio role of a lifetime in 1946, and he had the wife of the show’s director to thank for getting the role in the first place.

William Spier (Suspense) wanted nothing less than the next best thing to Humphrey Bogart when he decided to bring Sam Spade, the hero of Dashiell Hammett’s stories The Maltese Falcon, to radio, and Duff was anything but. But Spier’s wife, Kay Thompson, was taken so powerfully by Duff’s audition that her husband relented.

Posted in classic radio, comedy, fantasy, old-time radio | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Suspense’s right number: Old-time radio listening, 25 May

Suspense: Sorry, Wrong Number (CBS, 1943)

Agnes Moorehead giving one of seven live Suspense performances of Lucille Fletcher's "Sorry, Wrong Number." (Photo: CBS.)

Agnes Moorehead giving one of seven live Suspense performances of Lucille Fletcher’s “Sorry, Wrong Number.” (Photo: CBS.)

Bernard Herrmann, already composing so much of the music that helps make Suspense a bellwether among old-time radio dramas, probably had no idea that an illness in his own life would help produce perhaps the best-remembered among numerous high-profile Suspense offerings.

Posted in classic radio, comedy, crime drama, drama/dramatic anthology, mystery/thriller | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A movement for murder: Old-time radio listening, 13 September

Quiet, Please: Symphony in D Minor (Mutual, 1948)

Cesar Franck, as depicted in Jeanne Rongier’s 1885 painting, “César Franck at the console of the organ at St. Clotilde Basilica, Paris.”

In its final episode on Mutual, Quiet, Please‘s creative supermen elect to pay tribute to the symphony whose second movement has yielded the show’s arresting musical theme . . . by deploying it as a murder tool. Which may or may not be more benign, in its macabre manner, than the backstory animating the symphony itself.

Posted in classic radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment