Rank #1: Episode 382 – Vocalist Violence (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
There was no other radio detective like Richard Diamond - a tough, glib ex-cop turned private eye who had a powerful pair of fists and a healthy set of pipes. Dick Powell starred as the singing gumshoe in one of the era's best detective dramas. We'll hear a trio of shows - "The Fred Sears Murder Case" (originally aired on NBC on June 19, 1949); "The Angelino Giuseppe Case" (originally aired on NBC on January 7, 1950); and "The Bald Head Case" (originally aired on NBC on September 20, 1950).
Apr 26 2020
Rank #2: Episode 61 - The Mohr the Merrier (Nero Wolfe, Johnny Dollar, & Philip Marlowe)
Gerald Mohr, one of the greatest actors of the Golden Age of Radio, was born 100 years ago this week. To mark his centennial anniversary, we'll hear Mohr as three different radio detectives. First, he's Archie Goodwin to Sydney Greenstreet's Nero Wolfe in "The Case of the Calculated Risk" (originally aired on NBC on January 19, 1951). Then, it's his 1955 audition recording as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Finally, he stars as Philip Marlowe in "The August Lion" (originally aired on CBS on August 6, 1949).
Jun 08 2014
Rank #3: Episode 299 - How Now, Howard? (Sam Spade & Suspense)
This week on "Down These Mean Streets," we'll hear Howard Duff in two radio mysteries as Sam Spade and as a scriptwriter plotting the perfect crime in "Suspense."
Nov 11 2018
Rank #4: Episode 103 - Little Grey Cells (Agatha Christie's Poirot)
Hercule Poirot, the diminutive, eccentric, and brilliant Belgian detective, has thrilled mystery fans since his first appearances in the novels of Agatha Christie. In 1945, he came to American radio in a series that boasted an introduction by Christie herself. Harold Huber starred as the mustachioed master of deduction in Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and he was perfect as the fastidious investigator. We’ll hear him in “The Case of the Careless Victim,” originally aired on Mutual on February 22, 1945.
Mar 15 2015
Rank #5: Episode 178 - Seventy Years of Sam (Adventures of Sam Spade)
On July 12, 1946, Dashiell Hammett’s famous private eye Sam Spade came to radio in what became one of the greatest detective shows of the era. With witty scripts and a dynamic lead performance from Howard Duff, the series thrilled listeners and kept a smile on their faces in a program that stands out from the crowd of hard-boiled gumshoes and cops. In honor of the seventieth anniversary of its radio debut, we’ll hear four episodes of The Adventures of Sam Spade. Howard Duff stars in “Sam and Psyche” (originally aired on ABC on August 2, 1946); “The Rushlight Diamond Caper” (originally aired on CBS on July 4, 1948); and “The Dick Foley Caper” (originally aired on CBS on September 26, 1948). We’ll also hear Stephen Dunne as Spade in “The Dog Bed Caper” (originally aired on NBC on December 1, 1950).
Jul 17 2016
Rank #6: Episode 234 - Sam I Am (Adventures of Sam Spade)
Sam Spade - Dashiell Hammett's San Francisco shamus of The Maltese Falcon - was a hit with audiences when he came to radio in July 1946. The mix of tongue in cheek comedy with hard-boiled mystery, combined with the memorable performance of Howard Duff in the title role, made for a series that still holds up today and stands as one of the very best the era had to offer. We'll hear Duff as Spade in "The Missing Newshawk Caper" (originally aired on CBS on July 18, 1948) and "The Vaphio Cup Caper" (originally aired on CBS on August 22, 1948). Then Steve Dunne steps into Sam's shoes for "The Chateau McLeod Caper" (originally aired on NBC on January 26, 1951).
Jul 30 2017
Rank #7: Episode 90 - Wolfe Pack (New Adventures of Nero Wolfe)
Sydney Greenstreet settles into the armchair of Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout's gargantuan gourmet and irascible (but brilliant) detective. Wolfe will tackle a case only when his bank account demands it, and even then he farms out the fact-finding to his leg man, Archie Goodwin. Greenstreet stars in two radio mysteries: "The Case of the Impolite Corpse," with Larry Dobkin as Goodwin (originally aired on NBC on December 8, 1950); and "The Case of the Party for Death," featuring Harry Bartell as Archie (originally aired on NBC on February 16, 1951).
Dec 07 2014
Rank #8: Episode 282 - Play It Again, Sam (Adventures of Sam Spade)
To celebrate Dashiell Hammett's birthday, we'll hear a pair of radio adventures of his most famous creation - the hard-boiled San Francisco shamus Sam Spade. Howard Duff stars as Spade in "The Queen Bee Caper" (originally aired on CBS on July 10, 1949). Then, Steven Dunne steps into Sam's shoes for "The Biddle Riddle Caper" (originally aired on NBC on January 5, 1951).
May 27 2018
Rank #9: Episode 59 - Nick and Nora (Lux Radio Theatre)
William Powell and Myrna Loy recreate their film roles of Nick and Nora Charles in this radio adaptation of The Thin Man. Dashiell Hammett's story of the Charles and their search for missing inventor Clyde Wynant was a big screen smash and was presented on the air on the Lux Radio Theatre. We'll hear this hour-long dramatization as it was heard on CBS on June 8, 1936.
May 25 2014
Rank #10: Episode 377 – Itemized for Adventure (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
From 1955 until 1960, Bob Bailey starred as Johnny Dollar - "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" - and gave radio one of its all-time great detectives. Bailey first played the gumshoe in a series of five-part nightly serials before the series reverted to a weekly 30 minute format for the rest of its run. We'll hear him in all five installments of "The Plantagenet Matter" (originally aired on CBS on between March 5 and March 9, 1956). Plus, we'll hear a two-part mystery: "The Mason-Dixon Mismatch Matter" (originally aired on CBS on June 9, 1957) and "The Dixon Murder Matter" (originally aired on CBS on June 16, 1957).
Mar 22 2020
Rank #11: Episode 277 – Say It With a Diamond (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
It's the fifth anniversary of Down These Mean Streets and the 69th anniversary of the premiere of Richard Diamond, Private Detective. To celebrate both, here's an extra-large episode starring Dick Powell as Diamond. Radio's singing detective gets his man and carries a tune in "The Ralph Chase Case" (originally aired on NBC on May 15, 1949); "The Harry Baker Case" (originally aired on NBC on September 3, 1949); "The Grey Man" (originally aired on ABC on February 16, 1951); and "The Hollywood Story" (originally aired on CBS on August 23, 1953).
Apr 22 2018
Rank #12: BONUS - Dynamic Duos (Abbott and Costello & Martin and Lewis)
Two classic comedy pairs headline our midweek bonus episode. First, Bud and Lou perform some of their classic routines in an episode of The Abbott and Costello Show (originally aired on NBC on February 27, 1947). Then, Dean and Jerry welcome guest Henry Fonda to The Martin and Lewis Show (originally aired on NBC on June 5, 1949).
Apr 29 2020
Rank #13: Episode 378 – Man With the Yellow Hat (Dick Tracy)
The comic strip adventures of Chester Gould's two-fisted super cop Dick Tracy thrilled readers across the country, and the detective soon made the leap to the big screen and to radio. Ned Wever stars as Tracy, a cop equally skilled in the crime lab and on the shooting range, in the serialized adventure "The Black Pearl of Osiris" (originally aired on Mutual between February 8 and February 25, 1938).
Mar 29 2020
Rank #14: Episode 200 – The 200th Episode Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
It’s our 200th episode of old time radio cops, private eyes, and crime-solvers, and we’re celebrating with one of the era’s best actors and characters – Bob Bailey as Johnny Dollar. “The man with the action-packed expense account” is on the job in an extra-large, king-sized nine-part mystery. We’ll hear America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator in all nine installments of “The Phantom Chase Matter” (originally aired on CBS between October 15 and 26, 1956).
Nov 27 2016
Rank #15: Episode 62 - You Can't Go Holmes Again (Sherlock Holmes & Tales of Fatima)
Basil Rathbone donned the deerstalker cap in fourteen films as Sherlock Holmes and portrayed the legendary detective on radio for seven years. Frustration with typecasting led him to leave Baker Street, but he didn't stay away from the detective world for long. We'll hear him this week as Holmes (with Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson) in "The Problem of Thor Bridge," originally aired on Mutual on October 1, 1945. Then, Rathbone plays himself as an amateur detective in the unusual program Tales of Fatima. We'll hear "Time to Kill," originally aired on CBS on May 28, 1949.
Jun 15 2014
Rank #16: Episode 134 - One for the Road (Rocky Fortune)
Frank Sinatra is on the job as Rocky Fortune. Footloose, fancy-free, and frequently unemployed Rocky bounces from job to job but he finds danger wherever he punches a clock. Old Blue Eyes brings his signature charm and swagger to the role in this single-season radio mystery series. We'll hear him in "A Hepcat Kills the Canary" (originally aired on NBC on November 17, 1953) and in "Murder Among the Statues" (originally aired on NBC on December 1, 1953).
Oct 04 2015
Rank #17: Episode 116 - You're a Detective Sergeant (Dragnet)
Jack Webb is back as Sgt. Joe Friday in a two-part episode of Dragnet. Join Friday and his partner Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) as they pursue criminals and try and keep the streets of Los Angeles safe in this king-sized story from official police files. We’ll hear “The Big Mask” (Part 1 originally aired on NBC on December 28, 1952; Part 2 originally aired on January 4, 1953).
Jun 07 2015
Rank #18: Episode 167 - Crooning for Clues (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
Dick Powell is Richard Diamond, the only radio gumshoe who carries a tune along with his gun. The big screen star’s talents are put to perfect use in the character of Diamond, a tough, glib ex-cop turned shamus in the Big Apple who is equally skilled with his wits and his fists and who always wraps up the caper with a song for his girlfriend. The combination of Powell’s winning performance and scripts by Blake Edwards (the director behind The Pink Panther) make Diamond one of radio’s very best detectives. We’ll hear the private eye in “The Rene Bene Protection Case” (originally aired on NBC on October 22, 1949) and “The Statue of Kali” (originally aired on NBC on April 5, 1950).
Apr 24 2016
Rank #19: Episode 227 - One Mohr for the Road (Philip Marlowe & Nero Wolfe)
From 1948 to 1951, Gerald Mohr turned in a star performance as Raymond Chandler's L.A. private eye Philip Marlowe and gave us one of the best detectives of the radio era. But there was more to Mohr than his celebrated turn as "crime's most deadly enemy." In honor of his birthday, we'll hear Gerald Mohr in two radio mysteries as Marlowe - "The Long Rope" (originally aired on CBS on February 5, 1949) and "The Strangle Hold" (originally aired on CBS on October 15, 1949). We'll also hear him as Archie Goodwin (opposite Sydney Greenstreet) in "The Case of the Killer Cards" from The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (originally aired on NBC on January 12, 1951). And - as a bonus - we'll hear Mohr playing for laughs as French teacher Jacques Monet in an episode of Our Miss Brooks from October 9, 1949.
Jun 11 2017
Rank #20: Episode 350 – Long Goodbyes (Adventures of Philip Marlowe)
It's the 350th episode of Down These Mean Streets, and to mark the occasion I'm celebrating with Gerald Mohr as Raymond Chandler's celebrated shamus Philip Marlowe. One of radio's best actors brings vibrant life to one of literature's greatest detectives in four old time radio mysteries: "Red Wind" (originally aired on CBS on September 26, 1948); "The Black Halo" (originally aired on CBS on January 15, 1949); "The Fatted Calf" (originally aired on CBS on September 24, 1949); and "The Open Window" (originally aired on CBS on October 8, 1949).
Oct 13 2019