Rank #1: 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
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 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 #4: 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 #5: 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 #6: 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 #7: 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 #8: 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 #9: 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 #10: Episode 132 - Detective Dobkin (Ellery Queen & Nero Wolfe)
One of radio's most in-demand performers, Larry Dobkin could play smart alecky private eyes, stuffy snobs, and grizzled cowboys with equal aplomb. A talented actor, writer, and director, Dobkin's show business career lasted into the twenty-first century. We'll salute him this week with two of his performances as radio detectives. First he's Ellery Queen in "The Adventure of the Armchair Detective" (originally aired on CBS on March 27, 1946). Then he's Archie Goodwin - opposite Sydney Greenstreet as Nero Wolfe - in "The Case of the Bashful Body" (originally aired on NBC on December 29, 1950).
Sep 20 2015
Rank #11: Episode 117 - Bailey on the Beat (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
When Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar came back to the airwaves in 1955 after a brief hiatus, it was reenergized by a new nightly serialized format and a new star in Bob Bailey. Bailey made the role of “the man with the action-packed expense account” his own in rich, complex scripts that could play out five nights a week in a combined hour of airtime. We’ll hear Bailey as Dollar in all five parts of “The Laughing Matter” (first aired on CBS from June 11 to June 15, 1956).
Jun 14 2015
Rank #12: 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 #13: Episode 104 - Norths by Northwest (Mr. and Mrs. North)
The radio success of Mr. and Mrs. North convinced CBS to bring the adventures of the crime-solving couple to television. Richard Denning and Barbara Britton starred as Jerry and Pam and moved to take over the radio roles after a year on the small screen. Denning and Britton continued the program’s trademark balance of crime with light comedy simultaneously over radio and on television. We’ll hear the Norths in “The Comic,” an Armed Forces Radio Service rebroadcast of an episode originally aired on CBS on July 7, 1953.
Mar 22 2015
Rank #14: Episode 349 - Jumping Jack (Somebody Knows, Johnny Dollar, & CBS Radio Workshop)
If all he did was revive Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Jack Johnstone would still be a radio legend. But the multi-talented Johnstone brought listeners everything from true crime tales to offbeat western adventures. We're saluting the man who wrote scripts for Buck Rogers and Superman and who directed James Stewart in the Hollywood legend's only regular series radio role with a block of his shows. First, he narrates "The Unsolved Murder Of Joseph P. Bohanak" from Somebody Knows (originally aired on CBS on July 28, 1950). Then, he writes, produces, and directs "The Curse of Kamashek Matter," a five-part Johnny Dollar adventure (originally aired between September 3 and September 7, 1956). Finally, Johnstone is in the director's chair for "Report on E.S.P." - an all-star exploration of the psychic world from The CBS Radio Workshop (originally aired on CBS on March 9, 1956).
Oct 09 2019
Rank #15: Episode 89 - Howard the Duff (Sam Spade & The McCoy)
Howard Duff was one of radio's brightest stars until the blacklist and "Red scare" paranoia derailed his career. Today, he's fondly remembered as the definitive voice of Sam Spade with the perfect blend of tough guy delivery and wry humor. We'll hear Duff as Spade in "The Death Bed Caper," originally aired on CBS on June 20, 1948. Then, he stars as Mike McCoy, a private eye cut from the Spade cloth in the 1951 audition program for The McCoy.
Nov 30 2014
Rank #16: 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 #17: 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 #18: Episode 252 - Mustachioed Marvel (Murder Clinic & Hercule Poirot)
We're putting our little grey cells to work as Hercule Poirot solves two old time radio mysteries. Agatha Christie's brilliant Belgian detective is back on the big screen, and we'll hear two of his adventures from the airwaves. First, Maurice Tarplin is Poirot in an adaptation of Christie's "The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor," originally aired on Murder Clinic on October 6, 1942. Then, Harold Huber steps in for "Murder is a Private Affair," an episode of Hercule Poirot (originally aired on Mutual on November 23, 1945).
Nov 12 2017
Rank #19: Episode 150 - All-American Spade (Deadline Mystery & Sam Spade)
We salute actor Stephen Dunne, the second man to wear Sam Spade’s trench coat on radio. After struggling to break out of bit parts on the big screen, Dunne found success on radio in a number of shows. In 1950, after rumors of Communist ties cost Howard Duff the gig, Dunne stepped into the role of Sam Spade and put his own spin on the shamus for 24 episodes. His affable, easy-going qualities and smooth voice served him well as he later transitioned into television. We’ll hear him today as reporter “Lucky” Larson in “A Boy Asks for Help” from Deadline Mystery (originally aired on ABC on August 10, 1947). Then, Dunne is Spade in “The 25-1235679 Caper,” originally aired on NBC on January 5, 1951.
Jan 10 2016
Rank #20: Episode 248 – Back to Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
The game’s afoot as we join Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in three of their old time radio adventures. John Stanley is the world’s most famous detective and Alfred Shirley plays his loyal companion and biographer in these original adventures that feature a locked room mystery, a ghostly menace to an old family, and a woman in fear for her life. We’ll hear “The Case of the Dog that Changed Its Mind” (originally aired on Mutual on September 28, 1947); “The Case of the Cradle that Rocked Itself” (originally aired on Mutual on November 30, 1947); and “The Case of the Very Best Butter” (originally aired on Mutual on April 18, 1948).
Oct 22 2017