Featuring a presentation of:
The Adventures Of Sam Spade, Detective in “The Terrified Turkey Caper” (November 24, 1950)
(Originally podcast 27 November 2014. Retrocast on 24 November 2016 as Mutation #26.2)
Dexter Roland is still Back On The Case, and didn’t have time to really deliver a Thanksgiving Special the way he wanted to. So instead, he contacted his old friend, Sam Spade, to deliver a Holiday Special with music and stories that is just in time for dinner. This show was originally broadcast on Thanksgiving in 1950, and contains more holiday wordplay than any hour of anything else you can find in any medium.
It’s just the way we like to spend Thanksgiving. From our house, to yours.
The character of Sam Spade originates from Dashiell Hammett’s stories and novels, notably as the protagonist of The Maltese Falcon, and a few other stories here and there. Hammett’s other character, merely known as The Continental Op, often became conflated with Spade, and in many forms of media – radio included – The Op’s adventures became those of Spade. Regardless, Hammett only wrote a few stories for Spade, and after the success of Black Mask detective magazine, and the popularity of noir films, Private Eyes of every variety began to make their way to radio. Spade was no exception, who parlayed his few canonical appearances in print into hundreds of radio stories. While there were versions of this character performed by Bogart and others, starting in 1946, Howard Duff played the character, until communist investigations led to both Hammett and Duff being blacklisted. For the remaining radio broadcasts, Steve Dunne played the character, as he did in this episode.
Unlike the character in the novels and films, who was largely seen and clever, sharp-witted, and a dedicated sleuth, the radio version is a much more tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the characters, with puns and wordplay that was less of the noir wisecrack and is much more cheesy.
This episode, “The Terrified Turkey Caper,” was broadcast on Thanksgiving in 1950. Not only had the series been running for four years by this time, but it is clear that with a new actor and every imaginable variation under their belt, this episode is sort of phoned in. The story of a man named Tom Turkey, who was supposed to be killed on Thanksgiving, includes a number in-jokes that tie characters from this story to historic Thanksgiving people and traditions, even if only vaguely (or, in some cases, confusingly). Regardless, it has some entertaining moments, and more to the point, is one of the few radio programs that I could find that even mentions the holiday at all, which gets very little play in the world of narrative radio.
The Terrified Turkey Caper
Part I: A Tasty Chronicle of Fowl Play
01.) Echo Four-Two * Laurie Johnson * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
02.) Design To Kill * James Chance & The Contortions
03.) Where Dead People Live * Sun City Girls * Cameo Demons And Their Manifestations: Carnival Folklore Resurrection Vol. 1
04.) Almost Ready * The Normals * Killed By Death Vol. 10
05.) Maybe * The Fastbacks * The Day That Didn’t Exist
06.) Richard Diamond * Pete Rugolo * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
Part II: If I Didn’t Kill The Man Found In My Room, Who Did?
07.) Heaven Is A Truck * Pavement * Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
08.) To Here Knows When * My Bloody Valentine * Loveless
09.) A Good Man Is Hard To Find * Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys * Tiffany Transcripts Vol. 3
10.) Run Away * The Kids * The Kids
11.) Daddy Long Legs * Leith Stevens * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree