Rank #1: Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 271 – Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper
This podcast offering is only tangentially a detective story of sorts. It does involve investigations by individuals, potential suspects, potential crimes, and a resolution of sorts. And like many of my features, it comes based upon a short story. The story is from the sometimes strange mind of writer Robert Bloch. Bloch is probably best known among the public at large as the writer of the story upon which the classic Hitchcock film, Psycho, is based.
In 1943 Bloch published “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” one of the author’s first unique stories and not an imitation of H.P. Lovecraft, whom he had admired since before his writing days. Previously, his stories were mostly imitations of Lovecraft’s style.
In 1945, the story was adapted and aired over the Molle Mystery Theater, but like much of this series audio, it is only available via the Armed Forces Radio’s Mystery Playhouse. The adaptation is relatively faithful for the first 20 minutes, then creates a completely different final scene to end it. Unfortunately, if you have read the original story which appeared in Weird Tales in July 1943, there is a sort of third act to this story and possibly the best written scene in the whole story, in my opinion. The third major scene takes place in a seedy bar on a cold, foggy November night in Chicago’s south side, wonderfully described by author Bloch. You can read the original story online by going to the link below.
Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper in Weird Tales
The music under is from the series Twin Peaks and is written by Angelo Badalamenti called “Fire Walk With Me”
Jan 24 2017
Rank #2: Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 272 – The Thimble
Eleazar Lipsky was a lawyer and prosecutor in the Bronx and Manhattan until his death in 1993. In the 1940s he turned to writing novels and plays while maintaining his legal work. It was natural that most of his stories revolved around the courtroom and investigative attorneys. Probably his most famous novel was originally based upon a 100 page manuscript which became a film noir called Kiss of Death starring Victor Mature.
Lipsky wrote a number of other stories including a detective story centered around an investigator in The People Against O’Hara, which also became a film starring Spencer Tracy. Nearing the end of its long run on radio, the thriller series Suspense adapted a story by Lipsky called “The Thimble.” The story was adapted by Allan Sloane who went on to write extremely sensitive scripts for television earning him several Emmys and Peabody awards.
Given that this script came from a medium that was in its death throes in 1959, it is fast paced and holds listeners in leading up to the crime resolution. The District Attorney was played by Whitfield Connor, whose authoritarian voice works well in this story.
The radio play has a somewhat surprising ending on how the crime is committed.
Music under is created and performed by Oskar Schuster
Mar 10 2017
Rank #3: Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 273 – Dead Man Control
One of the best radio mystery series in the 1940s was the Crime Club which based its plays upon stories written by actual crime writers of the times. These were writers whose works were part of the Doubleday Crime Club imprints in the forties and were usually cracker crime stories.
The Mutual Broadcasting System snapped up a radio package offered by Doubleday and began airing adaptations from the imprint in December 1946. Most of radio plays were adapted by scripter Stedman Coles with sometime help by Wyllis Cooper and James Earthine. In March 1947 the series final year, an adaptation of a story by mystery and crime writer Helen Reilly was aired. The story was based on her novel Dead Man Control. Reilly’s novels were mostly police procedurals but sometimes with a bit of pulp in the characters.
Reilly’s primary protagonist was itinerant detective Inspector Christopher McKee. McKee was a Scottish New York City inspector who author Reilly described as a single-minded detective who relied his hunches as much as the scientific tools he used when working on crimes. He was direct in his questioning of potential suspects and never worried about their feelings.
Mar 27 2017
Rank #4: Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 278 – Richard Diamond, Private Investigator (Christmas show repeat)
It’s Christmas time and this week’s podcast is a special one! Eleven years ago, I featured this on the Radio Detective Story Hour. Staying in the vein of our detective theme, I present a variation on Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” with the puckish Dick Powell in his Richard Diamond hat.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!
Dec 24 2017
Rank #5: Radio Detective Story Hour Episode 277 – Escape: Finger of Doom
Writer and critic Anthony Boucher was assembling short stories from current mystery writers in 1945 for a collection he was calling Great American Detective Stories and wanted to include one from mystery and noir writer Cornell Woolrich. Boucher chose for his collection, the Woolrich story called “Finger of Doom” which first appeared in Argosy magazine in 1940; one of only three the author provided to them that year. Woolrich biographer, Francis Nevins, referred to the story as one of the author’s “Annihilation classics,” by which he refers to a story involving someone appearing then disappearing unexplainably without a trace.
The radio adaptation was heard over both Suspense and Escape. The one from Escape is a much sparser adaptation of the story and one I liked much more. Some of the adaptation seems to have taken some parts from the original Suspense adaptation, but the characters are trimmed down and toned down. Harry Bartel stars as Kenny and also carries the burden of narration effectively.
Music under is “I’ll Be Seeing You” performed by the Sonny Stitt Quartet.
Jul 31 2017