Down These Mean Streets (Old Time Radio Detectives)
An old-time radio podcast, bringing you detective adventures from the Golden Age of Radio. Each week, tune in for an adventure of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Johnny Dollar, The Saint, and many more.
info_outline Episode 337 – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (Pat Novak For Hire) 07/14/2019
Episode 337 – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (Pat Novak For Hire) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Jack Webb solves crime on the waterfront as Pat Novak For Hire. We'll hear "Find John St. John" (5/22/49) and "Joe Dineen" (6/19/49).
info_outline Episode 336 – The Neon Lights are Bright (Broadway is My Beat) 07/07/2019
Episode 336 – The Neon Lights are Bright (Broadway is My Beat) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Detective Danny Clover is walking his Broadway beat in a pair of radio mysteries: "The Joe Gruber Murders" (7/8/51) and "The Alice Mayo Murder" (5/24/52).
info_outline Episode 335 – Frees as a Bird (Green Lama & The Whistler) 06/30/2019
Episode 335 – Frees as a Bird (Green Lama & The Whistler) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Paul Frees shows off his voice acting versatility in an adventure of The Green Lama ("The Man Who Never Existed;" 6/5/1949) and a thriller from "The Whistler" ("Fatal Fraud;" 5/22/1949).
info_outline Episode 334 - Basil of Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) 06/23/2019
Episode 334 - Basil of Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Basil Rathbone is on the case as Sherlock Holmes in "Murder Beyond the Mountains" (1/14/1946) and "The Waltz of Death" (4/29/1946). Plus, he solves a comedy mystery with Fred Allen.
info_outline Episode 333 – Baileywick (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) 06/16/2019
Episode 333 – Baileywick (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Bob Bailey tackles "The Long Shot Matter" (6/25 - 6/29/56)- a five-part adventure of "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar."
info_outline Episode 332 - Nothing's Better than Mohr (Philip Marlowe & Nero Wolfe) 06/09/2019
Episode 332 - Nothing's Better than Mohr (Philip Marlowe & Nero Wolfe) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," we salute Gerald Mohr with four of his radio performances: two mysteries as Philip Marlowe ("The Last Laugh" and "The Last Wish"), one as Archie Goodwin ("The Case of the Vanishing Shells"), and one comedy from "Our Miss Brooks."
info_outline Episode 331 - The Names Have Been Changed (Dragnet) 06/02/2019
Episode 331 - The Names Have Been Changed (Dragnet) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," we're celebrating the 70th anniversary of the radio debut of "Dragnet" with four episodes: "Homicide" (6/10/1949), "The Big Fake" (6/1/1950), "The Big Bible" (9/28/1954), and "The Big No Tooth" (4/5/1955).
info_outline Episode 330 - Dash It All (Adventures of Sam Spade) 05/26/2019
Episode 330 - Dash It All (Adventures of Sam Spade) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Sam Spade is on the case in three radio mysteries: "The Wheel of Life Caper," "The Battles of Belvedere," and "the Spanish Prisoner Caper."
info_outline Episode 329 - Bird is the Word (The Falcon) 05/19/2019
Episode 329 - Bird is the Word (The Falcon) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Les Damon stars as private eye and occasional spy Mike Waring – better known as The Falcon. We’ll hear “The Case of the Sweet Swindle” (6/13/1951) and “The Case of the Babbling Brooks” (7/3/1952).
info_outline Episode 328 - Hey Bulldog (Bulldog Drummond) 05/12/2019
Episode 328 - Hey Bulldog (Bulldog Drummond) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Bulldog Drummond travels across the pond to battle criminals on the air. We’ll hear his 1941 audition program plus “Death Loops the Loop” (3/10/1948).
info_outline Episode 327 – Orson’s Swell (Lives of Harry Lime & Black Museum) 05/05/2019
Episode 327 – Orson’s Swell (Lives of Harry Lime & Black Museum) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” it’s a birthday salute to Orson Welles. We’ll hear him as Harry Lime from “The Third Man” in “Horse Play.” Plus he narrates the bloody history of a khaki handkerchief from “The Black Museum.”
info_outline Episode 326 - Their Girl Friday: Frances Robinson (Let George Do It, Richard Diamond, & The Whistler) 04/28/2019
Episode 326 - Their Girl Friday: Frances Robinson (Let George Do It, Richard Diamond, & The Whistler) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we’re saluting Frances Robinson, busy radio actress and frequent sidekick and secretary to radio gumshoes. We’ll hear her in “Let George Do It” (“The Elusive Hundred Grand,” 4/18/1949), “Richard Diamond” (“The Blind Man and the Cop Killer,” 2/26/1950), and “The Whistler” (“Murder in Mind,” 4/16/1950).
info_outline Episode 325 - Master Class (Nick Carter, Master Detective) 04/21/2019
Episode 325 - Master Class (Nick Carter, Master Detective) This week, Lon Clark is “the most famous of all manhunters” in two radio adventures of Nick Carter, Master Detective: “The Double Disguise” (1/8/1944) and “The Case of the Candidate’s Corpse” (9/26/1948).
info_outline Episode 324 - G-Men Get Their Man (This is Your FBI) 04/14/2019
Episode 324 - G-Men Get Their Man (This is Your FBI) This week on "Down These Mean Streets," Stacy Harris stars as Special Agent Jim Taylor in a pair of case files from "This is Your FBI" - "The Case of the Curious Coin Collector" (10/4/1946) and "The Agent Apprentice" (8/11/1950).
info_outline Episode 323 - Hit the Road, Jack (Jeff Regan, Pat Novak, & Pete Kelly's Blues) 04/07/2019
Episode 323 - Hit the Road, Jack (Jeff Regan, Pat Novak, & Pete Kelly's Blues) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we salute Jack Webb – one of the patron saints of radio detectives. We’ll hear him as Jeff Regan in “The Gambler and the Lady” (12/11/1948); as Pat Novak in “Rory Malone” (3/20/1949); and in “June Gould” from “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (AFRS rebroadcast from 9/19/1951).
info_outline Episode 322 - Same Bat-Time (Adventures of Superman) 04/03/2019
Episode 322 - Same Bat-Time (Adventures of Superman) Today in a Bat-bonus episode of "Down These Mean Streets," we're celebrating the Caped Crusader's 80th anniversary with a complete serialized adventure starring Batman, Robin, and Superman: "The Mystery of the Dead Voice."
info_outline Episode 321 - The Buck Starts Here (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) 03/31/2019
Episode 321 - The Buck Starts Here (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we’re saluting Charles Russell – the first actor to play Johnny Dollar in a radio series. We’ll hear three of Russell’s adventures: “The Perikoff Policy” (originally aired on CBS on 2/11/1949); “Melanie Carter and the Un-Nice Niece” (11/12/1949); and “The Animal Show Unscheduled Performances” (12/10/1949).
info_outline Episode 320 - Don't Fence Me In (Tales of the Texas Rangers) 03/24/2019
Episode 320 - Don't Fence Me In (Tales of the Texas Rangers) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we’re deep in the heart of Texas with Joel McCrea as Ranger Pearson in two mysteries from “Tales of the Texas Rangers” – “Quicksilver” (originally aired on NBC on 8/12/1950) and “The Trap” (originally aired on NBC on 2/25/1951).
info_outline Episode 319 - Hite Writes (Philip Marlowe & Fort Laramie) 03/17/2019
Episode 319 - Hite Writes (Philip Marlowe & Fort Laramie) This week, we’re saluting Kathleen Hite - the first female staff writer hired at CBS who would go on to pen hundreds of radio episodes. We’ll hear two of her Philip Marlowe mysteries plus an episode of “Fort Laramie.”
info_outline Episode 318 - Take a Letter (Box 13) 03/10/2019
Episode 318 - Take a Letter (Box 13) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Alan Ladd is mystery writer and amateur sleuth Dan Holiday in two “Box 13” mysteries. The star of “This Gun for Hire” answers two letters that lead to dangerous adventure both at home and abroad.
info_outline Episode 317 - Their Girl Friday: Virginia Gregg (Richard Diamond, Let George Do It, & Frontier Gentleman) 03/03/2019
Episode 317 - Their Girl Friday: Virginia Gregg (Richard Diamond, Let George Do It, & Frontier Gentleman) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we’re saluting Virginia Gregg, one of radio’s greatest actresses. We’ll hear her in her regular roles in “Richard Diamond” and “Let George Do It,” plus an episode of “Frontier Gentleman.”
info_outline Super Friends 03/02/2019
Super Friends Today in 1945, Superman first encountered the caped crusaders, Batman and Robin. This momentous meeting of heroes didn’t take place in a comic book or film serial; it happened on radio on The Adventures of Superman. That first meeting found Superman rescuing an unconscious Robin from a rowboat, a discovery that kicked off a hunt for the missing Batman. The Man of Steel had enjoyed radio success since his debut on the air in 1940, and though the Dark Knight Detective would go on to conquer the big and small screens success on radio eluded him. The first attempt to bring the Caped Crusader to the air came in 1943. DC Comics, the publisher of Batman comics, was eager to duplicate the success it enjoyed years earlier with Superman. The Man of Steel was the star of his own popular radio series airing on the Mutual Network, and he’d appeared on the big screen in a series of sharply produced animated shorts from Max Fleischer. In 1943, Batman hit the big screen in a 15 chapter Columbia Pictures serial, and he took to the airwaves in an audition program for a Mutual series. The story, titled “The Case of the Drowning Seal,” found Batman and Robin pursuing the Nazi agents who murdered Robin’s parents. Comic fans may recognize this was a departure from the origin of Robin’s sidekick, but these were the years when everyone, from Superman to Sherlock Holmes, joined the fight against Nazis. The introduction for the series set the tone for what was to come: “You are about to hear the first in a series of programs starring - The Batman! The legendary feats of this 20th century Robin Hood are tales of high adventure and stark mystery. In his ceaseless struggle against the forces of evil and corruption, The Batman has enlisted the aid of no one! He fights alone; his keen brain and athlete’s body, combined with the almost unbelievable acrobatic skill, have made the horned black mask and the flapping black cape the symbol of law and decency.” Thrilling stuff, and very true to the way Batman was depicted in the comics of the era. Unfortunately, the program did not make it to series, and “The Case of the Drowning Seal” is lost. Producers moved away from attempts to bring Batman to the air in his own series, but saw an opportunity to pair him up with one of his fellow heroes. In the early 1940s, Superman and Batman shared comic book covers, but they did not appear in the same stories. Years before they would ever share an adventure in a comic panel or newspaper strip, the heroes would meet and team up on radio. In March 1945, Superman (voiced on radio by Clayton “Bud” Collyer) rescued Robin, and the Dynamic Duo arrived on the air. Over the years on The Adventures of Superman, Batman and Robin would appear, sometimes to join Superman in adventures and other times to give the busy Collyer a chance for a vacation. This was especially true during the story arcs involving Superman’s battles against Kryptonite (his greatest weakness, the radioactive fragments of his home planet, were a creation of the radio series). Superman would be “unconscious” with Batman and Robin hunting for their friend; in reality, Collyer was enjoying some time off! For most of the appearances on Superman, Batman was played by actor Matt Crowley, a veteran of juvenile adventure shows. He was also played on occasion by Stacy Harris, a veteran of Jack Webb’s Dragnet who also starred as FBI Special Agent Jim Taylor in This is Your FBI. Robin was played by actor Ronald Liss. A second attempt was made to bring Batman to radio in 1950, with Ronald Liss again donning the mask and cape of the Boy Wonder. John Emery played Batman in the audition story “The Monster of Dumphrey’s Hall." The frame of the show found Batman and Robin presiding over a meeting of the "Batman Mystery Club,” a gaggle of tykes who met to hear cases from the Caped Crusader’s files. Oddly enough, all of these kids knew Batman’s true identity! The plot, which involved an old estate with a possibly haunted room, would be more suitable for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (ironically, Alfred Shirley, himself fresh off a radio run as Watson, appeared in a supporting role!). The episode didn’t provide the solution; perhaps producers were confident they’d go to series. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this dreadful audition didn’t go to series. Just four years after the end of the Golden Age of Radio, Batman would explode in popularity thanks to television. He may have missed his shot at radio stardom, but the pop culture phenomenon that was the Adam West TV series catapulted him into stardom that has never really gone away, and even managed to eclipse the hero who graciously shared the microphone with him in the 1940s.
info_outline "The lonesomest mile in the world..." 02/27/2019
"The lonesomest mile in the world..." Broadway is My Beat, the story of Detective Danny Clover and “the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world,” premiered on CBS on February 27, 1949. Thanks to the expert direction, the sharp writing, and an impressive lead performance, Broadway is My Beat broke the mold of a police drama and holds up today as one of the best shows from the era. Admittedly, it got off to an inauspicious start. The series premiered as a competently made police drama with a capable lead performance from Anthony Ross as Danny Clover. It attracted little attention from the public and the series left the air after four months. Originating from New York for the first go-round, CBS moved production across the country to Los Angeles and engaged a new production team to retool the series. The reins were turned over to Elliot Lewis, who was about to break out as one of the great radio talents of the era. Lewis was best known in 1949 as an actor; he starred in the Mutual adventure series Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, and he played Frankie Remley, the dim bulb sidekick of Phil Harris on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. He cut his teeth in the Armed Forces Radio Service and learned the ins and outs of radio, from scriptwriting to directing, during World War II. Lewis wasn’t interested in making just another police drama. He wanted to make the city of New York as much a character on the show as the cops and the criminals. To that end, he employed a team of three sound effects artists to create one of radio’s richest soundscapes. It was rare that the sounds of traffic and the hustle of the city weren’t heard as Danny Clover walked up flights of stairs at apartment houses or ducked into bars still waking up from the previous’ nights revelries. Lewis added scriptwriting duo Morton Fine and David Friedkin to the Broadway is My Beat team. This veteran radio duo (who would later create the classic 1960s TV series I Spy) put a spin on Danny Clover that was more in line with Jack Webb’s Joe Friday than brilliant super-cops. Clover cracked cases through determination and hard work; he was no deductive genius but he wasn’t a dullard either. In a June 15, 1950 article in The Sherbrooke Telegram, Fine and Friedkin described Danny Clover as “a nice, human guy who is a policeman and who solves crimes by piling human emotion against human emotion.“ But Clover wasn’t going to be the man Fine and Friedkin imagined without the right voice at the microphone. Fortunately, the right man got the job. Larry Thor was a CBS announcer (he could be heard introducing Rocky Jordan and other programs) who started acting along with his announcing chores. He brought a dignity and determination to the work of a policeman, and he delivered the lyrical dialogue of the scripts effortlessly. Supporting Clover at police headquarters were Charles Calvert as the quirky desk sergeant Gino Tartaglia, and Jack Kruschen as Clover’s sidekick in the field, Detective Muggavan. Just like Clover, these weren’t the typical radio cops, but they added some color and levity to the downbeat scripts and harsh world of the series. The things that set Broadway is My Beat apart from the crowd also made it hard to sell to a sponsor. For much of the run, the show was sustained by CBS and was used to fill gaps on the network’s lineup. it moved consistently, which is never the right way to build an audience. The series left the air in 1953, but one listen to Broadway is My Beat today reveals a show that succeeded in spite of its scheduling woes; it wasn’t just another radio cop show, and it may be a program that plays better to a 21st century audience more accustomed to realism and morally complex plots than some of the white-hat derring do of the Golden Age of Radio.
info_outline Episode 316 - A Chorus Crime (Broadway is My Beat) 02/24/2019
Episode 316 - A Chorus Crime (Broadway is My Beat) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Larry Thor walks the Great White Way as Detective Danny Clover in two mysteries from “Broadway is My Beat” - “The Val Dane Starvation Murder Case” and “The Gridiron Hero Murders.”
info_outline Episode 315 - Wealthy Young Man About Town (The Line-Up) 02/17/2019
Episode 315 - Wealthy Young Man About Town (The Line-Up) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” we’re celebrating Bill Johnstone’s birthday with two of his starring turns as Lt. Ben Guthrie in “The Line-Up.”
info_outline "Faster than a speeding bullet..." 02/12/2019
"Faster than a speeding bullet..." “Look, up in the sky!” Today, in 1940, Superman flew from the pages of Action Comics on to radio. As he thrilled readers in the comic books and dazzled audiences in movie theaters, the Man of Steel soared on the airwaves, battling the mob, Nazi spies and saboteurs, mad scientists, and aliens from other planets, all while cementing the character’s popularity as an American icon. In fact, much of Superman’s mythology grew out of his radio adventures and later worked its way into the comic stories. Plucky cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and blustery newspaper editor Perry White were both original creations for the radio series. Ditto Metropolis Police Inspector Henderson, one of Superman’s allies on the police force. The first meeting of Superman and Batman happened on radio in 1945 (they’d appeared on covers of comics before, but radio featured the first story where the characters teamed up), and Superman had his first encounter with his Achilles’ heel - Kryptonite - not on the pages of the comics, but on the radio series. The show was a ratings success practically from the start when it premiered on February 12, 1940. Radio veteran Jack Johnstone (who later directed Bob Bailey as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) directed the early shows, and the series topped the charts among three-day-a-week children’s serials. The series aired in syndication until March 9, 1942. Six months later, it returned over the entire Mutual Network in a five-day-a-week series. Directed by George Lowther and later Allen Ducovny, Superman exploded during the World War II era, as Kryptonite was thrown into the mix in 1943 and Superman and his friends fought Nazis as often as they fought domestic villains. One of these baddies led to one of the show’s longest and most celebrated storylines when Superman battled a Nazi-engineered, Kryptonite-fueled Atom Man out to avenge the defeat of Germany from October to December 1945. But it wasn’t all fights with Atom Men and imaginary monsters. On the air, Superman fought racial intolerance and bigotry, and today the series is as fondly remembered for its social consciousness as much as for its thrilling adventures. In one memorable arc (the “Unity House” series), Superman defended an interfaith community center from a gang of bigots; in another, he battled the “Clan of the Firey Cross,” a thinly veiled substitute for the Ku Klux Klan. Despite pressure from some listeners (and a threatened boycott by the KKK itself), Mutual and Kellogg’s, the show’s sponsor, stuck by their program, and the series received seals of approval from the Boys Clubs of America, the Associated Negro Press, and the United Parents Association, among others. At the center of this series, providing the voice of a man who could change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his bare hands, was a busy radio actor who initially didn’t want the gig. By age 32, Clayton “Bud” Collyer was appearing on all four major networks over several dozen series. And while he won the job by creating two distinct voices for Superman and his secret identity of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he initially turned down the role. “The whole idea embarrassed me, so I said no,” he recalled years later. Collyer would also voice the Man of Steel in the classic cartoons from Max Fleischer, and he returned in 1966 for Filmation’s New Adventures of Superman. Later, in the years following the Golden Age of Radio, Collyer would find fame as a game show host on television, anchoring shows like Quick as a Flash and To Tell the Truth. He played Superman in close to 1,700 shows and was the “voice” of the Man of Steel to a generation as much as George Reeves was the “face” on television. Collyer was backed up by a great cast in the Superman family. Joan Alexander set the template for Lois Lane - smart, spunky, and willing to jump into the fray as no damsel in distress. Julian Noa voiced the perpetually frustrated editor Perry White, and Jackie Kelk (Homer on The Aldrich Family) gave the right dose of “gee whiz” enthusiasm to Jimmy Olsen. But a comic book adventure is lost without a narrator, and for most of its run Superman had a humdinger in Jackson Beck, who famously intoned the legendary introduction that began with “Faster than a speeding bullet!” (Yep, that was coined for the radio series as well.) Today,the radio adventures of Superman still pack a ton of excitement into every fifteen or thirty minute episode. Even if you can only see him in the theater of your own mind, Superman rockets through the air when Bud Collyer’s voice drops an octave, that wind machine kicks in, and Jackson Beck’s stentorian boom erupts over the speakers.
info_outline "Expense account, item one..." 02/11/2019
"Expense account, item one..." On February 11, 1949, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar premiered on CBS and kicked off the career of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator.” Dollar traveled the world investigating cases of insurance fraud until 1962. Each mystery was narrated by Johnny as he itemized his expense account for his bosses at “the home office.” The series aired up until the end of the Golden Age of Radio in 1962, and it remains one of the most beloved detective programs of the era. What made the show work? The format of the show is a great hook - Dollar narrates the story as he itemizes his expense account for his employers. As the case progresses, another expense is rattled off. This was played up for humorous effect in the show’s early days, leading to a frequent announcer tag line - “At insurance investigation, he’s only an expert. At making out his expense account, he’s an absolute genius!“ Dollar was sharp, a bit cynical, and had brains to match his brawn. But in his first several years on the air, Johnny Dollar was a good - but not great - radio detective. There was little about the show to distinguish it from the sea of detective shows cluttering the airwaves. Three different actors (Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund) played Dollar between 1949 and 1954. (Dick Powell was actually the first to play Johnny Dollar in a 1948 audition program. Before the show went to series, Powell opted to star in Richard Diamond, Private Detective on NBC.) The insurance investigation angle provided a different flavor for the show, but those early shows weren’t quite in the same league as Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. The show actually left the airwaves in 1954, and Johnny Dollar might have ended up as a radio footnote had it not been for a revamped series that returned to the air in 1955. Under the direction of Jack Johnstone, Johnny Dollar was reinvented as a five-night-a-week 15 minute serial. Johnstone was a veteran radio writer and director who previously brought Buck Rogers and Superman to radio. Just before he took the helm of Johnny Dollar, he served as producer and director for the outstanding NBC western series The Six Shooter, which brought Jimmy Stewart to weekly radio as its star. Johnstone served as producer and director of the new series, and he frequently provided scripts. With 75 minutes instead of 30 for stories every week, Johnstone and his fellow writers could deliver complex plots with plenty of twists and turns and nuanced characters with more depth than the usual supporting players in a weekly detective show. But talent behind the scenes is only part of the story. Johnny Dollar’s renaissance owes as much to the man in front of the microphone - a strong, dynamic actor who breathed life and a personality into the detective. And it was an actor who was no stranger to solving crimes on the airwaves. Bob Bailey was fresh off a run as private eye George Valentine in Let George Do It when he was cast as Dollar. He sank his teeth into the king-size scripts, and his performance fleshed out the character in a way that the previous actors had never quite managed to nail down. His Johnny Dollar would more often than not get too involved in his cases, and he might fall too hard for a female suspect. He loved to fish, and his clients might exploit that to persuade him to take a dangerous job in a far-off locale where he could be promised a good catch. He was unpredictable, funny, and dangerous. In the early years, Johnny Dollar was just a radio detective. With Jack Johnstone’s words and Bob Bailey’s voice, he joined the ranks of Marlowe and Spade, characters with long histories on the page behind them. The series continued in the serial format until 1956 when it returned to 30 minutes once a week. While the individual shows may not have always been as rich as the five-part stories, Bailey’s performance remained strong. He remained in the role until 1960, when CBS shut down its West Coast radio operations and moved its dramatic productions to New York. The show continued for another two seasons; Jack Johnstone continued to provide scripts but was replaced as director. Bob Readick and Mandel Kramer starred as Dollar until he turned in his last expense account on the final night of network radio on September 30, 1962. Nearly all of the episodes of the show survive, and while each actor brought something unique to the character, it is Bailey’s Johnny Dollar that stands head and shoulders above them all. His wry humor, his hard edge, and his world-weary cynicism come through in every line of his performance, and there are years of episodes for today’s audiences to rediscover and enjoy.
info_outline Episode 314 - The Final Five Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) 02/10/2019
Episode 314 - The Final Five Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Bob Bailey is “the man with the action-packed expense account” in the final five-part adventure of “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.”
info_outline Stories Start in Many Different Ways 02/06/2019
Stories Start in Many Different Ways “Hi - this is Randy Stone. I cover the night beat for the Chicago Star.” On February 6, 1950, reporter Randy Stone took his first walk on the Night Beat. Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy, an intrepid newspaperman working at the Chicago Star. Every night, Randy explored the darkened streets of the Windy City in search of stories for his column. Randy Stone was looking for the good and the bad of human nature - anything that would make for a good yarn to follow his byline. Along the way, he usually found trouble among the desperate and the dangerous residents of the city at night. In each episode of the show, columnist Randy Stone went to work when the sun went down and set off through the city streets in search of stories about people that had fallen through the cracks. The “human” in human interest stories was of paramount importance to him, and like a knight on a romantic crusade, Stone did his best to help the subjects of his stories and ensure as much of a happy ending as he could for his column. Randy Stone wasn’t a detective; he wasn’t even an amateur sleuth like Box 13’s Dan Holiday or Casey, Crime Photographer. But he walked the streets of Chicago after dark and as a sucker for a hard luck story, he frequently found himself in conflict with the mob, gamblers and thieves, con men, and killers. He could be taken in by a sob story or come around to discover a perceived villain had been wronged as badly as the victim. He didn’t carry a gun, and he wasn’t a fighter, but he had dogged persistence in chasing down a story to the end. It was the kind of persistence that was finely honed from walking the streets and wearing out who knows how many pairs of shoes. On May 19, 1949, an audition program for the series was recorded starring Edmond O’Brien as reporter “Hank Mitchell.” Directed by Bill Rousseau (director of hard-boiled private eye shows Pat Novak and Michael Shayne), O’Brien’s performance was closer to how he’d sound as Johnny Dollar a year later: tougher, cynical, and harder-edged. Not a bad performance (in fact, it served him well in the role of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator”), but it was a little too tough for what producers were looking for. Night Beat got a second bite at the apple almost a year later. This time, actor Frank Lovejoy stepped to the microphone as the lead character, rechristened “Randy Stone.” Where Hank Mitchell was cynical, Randy Stone was a kind of cock-eyed optimist. Where Mitchell was tough, Stone was compassionate. Of the voices, Randy Stone’s sounded more like that of a champion for the little guy. And delivering that winning performance for over 100 episodes was Frank Lovejoy. Lovejoy had been a radio actor in the 1930s and early 1940s, appearing on Gangbusters and This is Your FBI. He was the first actor to play the Blue Beetle on radio, and he was frequently heard as a supporting player on Sam Spade, Box 13, and Adventures of Superman; he also took more than a few starring turns on Suspense. In films, Lovejoy was often a supporting player in everyman roles in films like The Hitch-Hiker, House of Wax, and In a Lonely Place. This “man of the people” streak to his work served him well as Randy Stone, and Lovejoy delivers one of the best dramatic lead performances from the Golden Age of Radio in Night Beat. It helped that he was given wonderful words to say and characters to say them to with scripts by Larry Marcus, Russell Hughes (main writer for Box 13), and others. One of the great dramatic shows of the 1950s, Night Beat was anchored by Frank Lovejoy’s performance and strong scripts. Though not strictly a detective program, Night Beat often featured stories of crime and killers, of cops and robbers. Night Beat was a bright spot in the Golden Age of Radio as it gradually gave way to the rise of television.
info_outline Episode 313 - In the Still of the Night (Night Beat) 02/03/2019
Episode 313 - In the Still of the Night (Night Beat) This week on “Down These Mean Streets,” Frank Lovejoy prowls the streets of the Windy City in search of newspaper stories as reporter Randy Stone in two old time radio mysteries from “Night Beat.”