This week, we’ve been taken over by Detective Dexter Roland, Private Investigator. Join him with Humphrey Bogart, The Pink Panther, Mr. Lucky, Mary Astor, Peter Gunn, Richard Diamond, Sidney Greenstreet, Pete – The King of Detectives, Frankie Machine, Richie Dagger and some genuine femme fatales for a two-hour presentation of The Maltese Falcon. Listen as Dexter rambles about skirts and twists, intermixed with edited selections of a 1946 radio adaptation of the popular film The Maltese Falcon.
The Maltese Falcon
Part I: Touch of Evil
01.) Austin FM Theme * Paco Jones * Austin FM Theme * Self-Released (2016)
02.) Peter Gunn Theme Song * Henry Mancini
03.) Mr. Lucky * Elliot Eastion’s Tiki Gods * Shots In The Dark
04.) The Maltese Falcon Part I
05.) Touch Of Evil (Main Title) * Joseph Gershenson & The Universal-International Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
06.) Femme Fatale * The Velvet Underground & Nico
07.) Goldfinger * Shirley Bassey
Part II: Contract With Depravity
08.) The Stu Bailey Blues * Warren Barker Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
09.) Watching The Detectives * Elvis Costello & The Attractions
10.) The Maltese Falcon Part II
11.) Frankie Machine * Elmer Bernstein And Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
12.) Contract With Depravity * Kenyon Hopkins * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
13.) Experiment In Terror * Davie Allen And The Arrows * Shots In The Dark
Part III: Life of Crime
14.) The Maltese Falcon Part III
15.) Stool Pigeon * Irving Joseph * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
16.) Life of Crime * The Spits * School’s Out
17.) The Pink Panther Theme * Oranj Symphonette * Shots In The Dark
18.) The Maltese Falcon Part IV
19.) Cool * Stan Kenton * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
20.) Softly * Henry Mancini
Part IV: Don’t Tell The Detectives
21.) Seven * Arvo Zylo * Arvo Plays Ferrante & Teicher * No Part Of It
22.) Studio Di Colore [Excerpt] * Ennio Morricone * Crime And Dissonance
23.) (She Was A) Hotel Detective * They Might Be Giants * They Might Be Giants
24.) The Maltese Falcon Part V
25.) The Street (Main Title) * Elmer Bernstein * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
26.) Don’t Tell The Detectives * The Zipps * Messthetics Vol. 4
27.) Boy Detectives * Famous Explorers * Messthetics #103
28.) The Maltese Falcon Part VI
Part V: A Shot In The Dark
29.) Richard Diamond * Buddy Morrow * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
30.) Fallout * Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
31.) Pete, King of the Detectives * Big Black * Headache
32.) The Maltese Falcon Part VII
33.) Echo Four-Two * Johnny Gregory And His Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
34.) Richie Dagger’s Crime * The Germs * GI
35.) A Shot In The Dark * Naked City * Naked City
Part VI: Naked City
36.) The Maltese Falcon Part VIII
37.) Le Fotografie (From Verushka) * Ennio Morricone * Crime & Dissonance
38.) Re-Enact The Crime * Unwound * The Future Of What
39.) Magic Pig Detective * The Melvins * Stoner Witch
40.) The Maltese Falcon Part IX
41.) Naked City * Mundell Lowe * His All Stars * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
As 2016 rolls to a close, any reasonable assessment of the last 12 months has left all of us a little worse for wear. As I try to re-focus my efforts for 2017, Mid-Valley Mutations is taking a few weeks off for the holidays, to recuperate and prepare for what will be a much better year, no matter how you slice it.
But we don’t want to leave you hanging, as you have come to expect weekly entertainment, and weekly entertainment you shall receive. So we’re still bringing you some good old fashioned holiday programming, just in time for the Christmas Season. We are featuring two Old Time Radio Classics, stories that involve detectives solving Yule Tide mysteries that play themselves out over two half-hour blocks. But that’s not all! We found shows where the leads are played by two stalwart performers of the Golden Age of Radio: Vincent Price and Frank Sinatra!
First, Vincent brings you a tale of The Saint, a character that he portrayed on the radio from 1947 until the end of the radio run in 1951. Vincent is a fantastic actor, and his style and sophistication come through in his portrayal of The Saint, who is as concerned with being a gentleman as much as he is concerned with solving the case. It is worth it to hear Vincent perform the character of Simon Templar, an actual saint in world where crime may strike at any moment. The Saint is often – as he is in this story – accompanied by a cab driver named Louie, expertly played by Lawrence Dobkin, no stranger to Detective Radio Programs. (He played Archie in the radio adaptations of the Nero Wolf stories, and guest starred in The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Jeff Regan and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.) This story is sort of typical of what you would find of The Saint. A little action, a little comedy, and plenty of chances for Vincent and Lawrence to spar, verbally. The recipie continues to work, even 60 years later, and it is a great addition to our Holiday Programming.
Second, Frank Sinatra plays a lesser known character from the world of noir fiction: Rocky Fortune. This makes perfect sense, as Sinatra was experiencing extreme popularity in post-war America, and he was the kind f personality that radio usually enjoyed. To top it off, it seemed to have the right juice behind the show, as the creator was none other that Dimension X series creator George Lefferts. There was also a certain amount of fourth wall breaking that happened on the show; Rocky references Dimension X, in one episode, sings lines from the Sinatra catalog, and would throw in references to From Here To Eternity as often as possible. Perhaps that was the nail in the coffin for the program, or perhaps it was Sinatra, who was never the greatest actor, in spite of his incredible voice. The show only lasted 25 episodes, and strangely, the final broadcast was less than a week after he won the Academy Award for acting, solidifying his career in film, making his radio career merely a footnote. Still, this holiday installment of his program is not only a great way to close this particular episode, but is a perfectly holiday tale, best told on the radio.
It’s just one of the many ways we like to celebrate the holidays, on Mid-Valley Mutations, and we hope you enjoy listening to Old Time Radio the way we do. And, stay tuned! There’s all sorts of podcast-only treats, and further Old Time Radio goodies that will hit the airwaves in the coming weeks. Get into the Yule Tide Spirit, with plenty of radio for your ears.
Detectives For Christmas w/ Vincent Price & Frank Sinatra!
Part I: The Saint!
01.) Austin FM Theme * Paco Jones * Austin FM Theme * Self-Released (2016)
02.) See How Pretty, See How Smart [Excerpt] * Melvins * The Maggot * Ipecac Records (1999)
03.) Nineteen Santa Clauses * The Saint * 24 December 1947 Broadcast * NBC Radio (1947)
Part II: Rocky Fortune!
04.) The Plot To Murder Santa Claus * Rocky Fortune * 22 December 1953 Broadcast * NBC Radio (1953)
Detective Dexter Roland Presents: The Maltese Falcon! (Featuring music and songs about Detectives, intermixed with edited selections from a 1946 radio adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, hosted by Detective Dexter Roland! Originally broadcast on 13 November 2010 on KPSU.)
This week, Blasphuphmus Radio has been taken over by Detective Dexter Roland, Private Investigator. Join him with Humphrey Bogart, The Pink Panther, Mr. Lucky, Mary Astor, Peter Gunn, Richard Diamond, Sidney Greenstreet, Pete – The King of Detectives, Frankie Machine, Richie Dagger and some genuine femme fatales for a two-hour presentation of The Maltese Falcon. Listen as Dexter rambles about skirts and twists, intermixed with edited selections of a 1946 radio adaptation of the popular film The Maltese Falcon.
The Maltese Falcon
01.) Peter Gunn Theme Song * Henry Mancini
02.) Mr. Lucky * Elliot Eastion’s Tiki Gods * Shots In The Dark
03.) The Maltese Falcon Part I
04.) Touch Of Evil (Main Title) * Joseph Gershenson & The Universal-International Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
05.) Femme Fatale * The Velvet Underground & Nico
06.) Goldfinger * Shirley Bassey
07.) The Stu Bailey Blues * Warren Barker Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
08.) Watching The Detectives * Elvis Costello & The Attractions
09.) The Maltese Falcon Part II
10.) Frankie Machine * Elmer Bernstein And Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
11.) Contract With Depravity * Kenyon Hopkins * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
12.) Experiment In Terror * Davie Allen And The Arrows * Shots In The Dark
13.) The Maltese Falcon Part III
14.) Stool Pigeon * Irving Joseph * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
15.) Life of Crime * The Spits * School’s Out
16.) The Pink Panther Theme * Oranj Symphonette * Shots In The Dark
17.) The Maltese Falcon Part IV
18.) Cool * Stan Kenton * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
19.) Softly * Henry Mancini
20.) Studio Di Colore [Excerpt] * Ennio Morricone * Crime And Dissonance
21.) (She Was A) Hotel Detective * They Might Be Giants * They Might Be Giants
22.) The Maltese Falcon Part V
23.) The Street (Main Title) * Elmer Bernstein * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
24.) Don’t Tell The Detectives * The Zipps * Messthetics Vol. 4
25.) Boy Detectives * Famous Explorers * Messthetics #103
26.) The Maltese Falcon Part VI
27.) Richard Diamond * Buddy Morrow * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
28.) Fallout * Henry Mancini & His Orchestra
29.) Pete, King of the Detectives * Big Black * Headache
30.) The Maltese Falcon Part VII
31.) Echo Four-Two * Johnny Gregory And His Orchestra * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
32.) Richie Dagger’s Crime * The Germs * GI
33.) A Shot In The Dark * Naked City * Naked City
34.) The Maltese Falcon Part VIII
35.) Le Fotografie (From Verushka) * Ennio Morricone * Crime & Dissonance
36.) Re-Enact The Crime * Unwound * The Future Of What
37.) Magic Pig Detective * The Melvins * Stoner Witch
38.) The Maltese Falcon Part IX
39.) Naked City * Mundell Lowe * His All Stars * Crime Jazz: Music In The First Degree
The Old Acquaintance with Philip Marlowe! (At their yearly meet-up, Detective Dexter Roland and Phillip Marlowe discuss a strange case involving a wedding on New Year’s Eve, and a whole lot more, from The Adventures of Phillip Marlowe, oiginally broadcast 26 December 1948.)
I’d known Phil since pretty early in his career, and we had long ago made it a habit to hunker down each time the year turned over to talk about our work throughout the year. But it wasn’t until he actually showed up this year that I thought I would see him, and even worse, it wasn’t until he began to tell me about the New Year’s Wedding that went wrong that I really began to feel bad.
I have to admit, The Adventures of Philip Marloweis probably my favorite Old Time Radio program. I’m a fan of the character in nearly any medium, but my love of noir and pulp detective novels doesn’t really have any bearing on my love of the show. There is something about the way Gerald Mohr delivers the lines, and gives emphasis to the reflective moments when Phil is putting together a case. I could listen to these shows endlessly and find something in them to admire. This show represents Old Time Radio at its finest, and while I love the other shows that are out there too, this one really speaks to me.
The character of Marlowe might, in many ways, be the archetype for noir figure we most often associate with detectives from the pulp era. He embodies almost all of the tropes, has a slew of authorized (and unauthorized) works published about him, has been portrayed by Humphrey Bogart, and is endlessly iterated by every Mickey Spillane knock-off that has come in the years since. While Sam Spade meets some of the criteria for being the most well known archetype, Marlowe only beats him out in that Dashiell Hammett didn’t published that many Spade stories.
The best qualities of Philip Marlowe are the ones that we all look for in a good protagonist: he’s tough, he’s clever, he’s good with the ladies, he drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney, and he’d usually not doing too well, and distrusted by the cops. But all of these mechanics – that might seem typical now – were codified by this character, and the things we think are trite were actually new when this guy was on the scene.
So, sit back with some bourbon, and enjoy this vintage tale of a New Year’s Eve that will keep you glued to your seat.
And, thanks for sticking with us this year. We got back on our feet, and have come in swinging, and I’m excited about what 2016 will have to offer. Certainly, more shows, and that is always something we can get behind.
The Old Acquaintance with Phillip Marlowe!
Side A: Confidence To Kill
01.) New Year’s Even In A Haunted House * Raymond Scott * Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights
02.) Coming To See You * Krypton Tunes * Killed By Death Vol. 24
03.) Absent Friends * Fred Frith * Cheap At Half The Price
04.) Out Of Jail * They Might Be Giants * John Henry
05.) Corpse Pose * Unwound * “Corpse Pose” b/w “Everything Is Weird”
06.) Confidence To Kill * Mink Deville * Once Upon A Time Vol. 11: New York & New Jersey ’78
Side B: Can’t Stop Now
07.) Can’t Stop Now * The Reducers * Messthetics Vol. 1
08.) Rage * Ellen Cherry Charles * The Cherry Orchard
09.) Let’s Go Away * The Wipers * Is This Real?
10.) Hit The Wall * The Agenda! * Start The Panic!
11.) Good Night * The Beatles * The Beatles
12.) Night Beat * The Phantoms * Lux And Ivy’s Favorites Vol. 8
A Christmas Carol with Richard Diamond! (It’s Christmas Eve, 1949, and Detective Dexter Roland needs to sober up. So he decides to take in a show with Richard Diamond, Walt & Otis of the local PD. This episode was retrocast on 24 December 2016 as Mutation #31.1.)
It had been a long day, and Detective Dexter Roland had found himself in strange places, listening to strange stories during the strangest time of the year. So, how in the hell did he find himself on a Sound Stage, with the singing detective himself, Richard Diamond, and his cast of oddballs, Walt & Otis of the local police precent? He’s not entirely sure, but he’s arrived at just the right time to catch their rendition of the Dicken’s classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
Richard Diamond was not on the air long, in either his radio or television incarnation, and yet during the seven total years he was a detective for all three of the big networks (he ran, at various times, on ABC, NBC & CBS), and was portrayed by at least three different actors, though Dick Powell was most well known for playing the sleuth. While the character was “The Singing Detective” on the radio (belting out a tune at the end of each show), by the second season of the TV show, Richard found himself playing a more Noir-like character, and fit in better with the Sam Spade / Phillip Marlowe style detective. While this particular show – where they re-enact a play – is not at all the usual form for this program, it fits perfectly into our Holiday Theme, and gives Dexter someone else he can pal around with.
The radio broadcasts were certainly a “lighter” kind of detective than you found elsewhere, and this could have added to the reasons why he didn’t last as long on the air. But even still, Richard Diamond produced 77 TV episodes, and over 160 radio broadcasts, something impressive by modern standards. And, as this is a Holiday broadcast, it only makes sense to have a “lighter” program close to Christmas.
These detective shows are a lot of fun to put together, and I always enjoy bringing out Dexter when it’s appropriate. There’s only one more in this series, where he meets with Phillip Marlowe for a New Year’s Eve story that you won’t want to miss. Until then:
A Christmas Carol with Richard Diamond!
Side A: At Our Fireplace
01.) Romanian Christmas Carols, Sz. 57 * György Sándor / Béla Bartók * Complete Solo Piano Music
02.) At Our Fireplace * Deek Watson & The Brown Dots * Black Christmas
03.) Worksong * Grails * Red Light
04.) Nonsense * Telepathys * Sui Ken – Japanese Punk and Hardcore
05.) So Long * Tiger High * Catacombs After Party
Side B: Merry Christmas
06.) Hard Times * Danny & The Other Guys * Garage Punk Unknowns – Part 1
07.) Merry Christmas * Blake Xolton * Homework #5
08.) It’s A Secret * Regular Guys * Teenline Vol. 1
09.) God Only Knows * The Beach Boys * Pet Sounds
10.) Romanian Christmas Carols, Sz. 57 * György Sándor / Béla Bartók * Complete Solo Piano Music
Christmas Shopping with The Crime Photographer! (Casey himself – The Crime Photographer – pops in to see Detective Dexter Roland for this holiday presentation from 19 December 1946. This show was aired on 14 December 2016 as Mutation #29.1)
After listening to Johnny Dollar’s story in our previous installment, the only thing that made any sense to Detective Dexter Roland was to drop into The Blue Note tavern, where he could take in a few drinks and a few tunes before the end of the night. Little did he know that he was going to run into Flashgun Casey and his partner, Ann Williams. Before he could even get his bearings, Dexter is roped into hearing them recount their holiday shopping trip that went quite a ways off the rails.
Crime Photographer(and later, Casey, Crime Photographer) was a franchise that was born out of the Black Mask crime fiction scene in the ’30s, created by George Harmon Coxe, who was keen to expand Casey into as many mediums as possible. Magazines, novels, and film were all avenues that Casey found himself taking pictures in, and his run on radio lasted almost 12 years with a number of different actors and formats on CBS. The gimmick of the show – that they would drop into The Blue Note tavern, where Casey and Ann would listen to The Archie Bleyer Orchestra, and later the The Teddy Wilson Trio. In this episode, the music in the bar is provided by Herman Chittison, to great effect.
While Casey is not as well known as his Johnny Dollar or Phillip Marlowe (or other detectives of the era), during his time on the air Crime Photographer was incredibly popular, and was as well recognized in his day as the other stars of his era. It’s always a pleasure to drop in on Flashgun Casey, and he seems to have sent me off on drunken adventure that could lead me in just about any direction.
But that’s a story for another day. Until then,
Christmas Shopping with The Crime Photographer!
Side A: How We Remember Them To Be
01.) Brendon’s Camera * Brendon Small * Home Movies Soundtrack
02.) Drink, Drank Drunk * RABBITS * Keep Our Heads
03.) Out Of Our Tree * The Wailers * The Fabulous Wailers
04.) Photograph [Live] * The Human Genome Project * “Live Friday on KPSU” 17 September 2004.
05.) How We Remember Them To Be * The Cherry Orchard * Ellen Cherry Charles
06.) Takin’ A Ride * The Replacements * Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash!
Side B: Decomposing Trees
07.) Talking To You * The Savage Resurrection * The Savage Resurrection.
08.) The ‘We’re All Friends’ Club * Enemy Mine * EP
09.) In A Car * The Meat Puppets * In A Car EP
10.) The Power Of Independent Trucking * Big Black * Songs About Fucking
11.) Decomposing Trees * Galaxie 500 * On Fire
12.) Faded Photograph * The Legendary Pink Dots * Plutonium Blonde
Detective Dexter Roland had a pretty eventful November, and was ready to settle down for a quiet December where he could worry about money for a chance. But no sooner had he dismissed his secretary and was about to do some heavy drthinking, when his old friend Johnny Dollar called up, to discuss a holiday case that he can’t stop thinking about. All December, Dexter Roland will be presenting holiday capers the likes of which you’ve never heard before, and he’d doing it all as part of our annual X-Mas Memories Broadcasts.
To kick things off, we are offering, “How I Played Santa Claus And Almost Got Left Holding The Bag,” a Johnny Dollar story from Christmas Eve, 1949. Johnny Dollar had a long and fascinating radio career, and in almost 12 years aired over 800 shows that are still being enjoyed to this day. Not quite a famous as Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe or Dexter Roland, Johnny Dollar seemed to outlast them all by delivering a combination of the best detective characters on radio, and dominated the ’50’s as detectives popped up on every station. When the mid-’60’s rolled around – and Television had very truly dominated radio – Johnny Dollar faded away.
But him memory lives on, with this story about how difficult department stores can be. And until next week:
The Department Store Swindle!
Side A: Camera Shy
01.) Johnny B. Goode * The Remains * A Session With The Remains
02.) Train * Mission of Burma * vs.
03.) Camera Shy * Parts & Labor * Mapmaker
04.) I’ll Cry * The Reigning Sound * Too Much Guitar
05.) Shoplifting * The Slits * Cut
06.) Pictures * Thought Police * Messthetics Vol. 3
07.) There Ain’t No Santa Clause On The Evenin’ Stage * Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band * The Spotlight Kid
Side B: True Detective
08.) Close The Door * The Readymen * Restless
09.) Last Chance * The Wipers * The Herd
10.) White * Ken Nordine * Colors
11.) True Detective * Accidents * A Reference Of Female-Fronted Punk Rock: 1977-89
12.) Mr. Santa Claus * Nathaniel Mayer* Village Of Love
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
In our final Halloween Spook-tacular this season, we pull out all the stops and bring you a story straight out of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. As an experienced Private Dick, Dexter Roland has been involved in a number of cases that have often put him in contact with a number of surprising and unusual situations. He’s worked with Humphrey Bogart, presenting the story of The Maltese Falcon, and Peter Lorre, during this Holiday tale Back For Christmas. But this may well be his strangest case yet, as he discovers the horrific events surrounding the disappearance of his friends over at The Broderick Detective Agency. Tune in for an incredible Hard Boiled, Sci-Fi epic as we bring you the tale of The Embassy, where professional PI Broderick is hired to locate the secret base of operations for… a Martian Invasion!
Dexter Roland has been kicking around since the early ‘90’s, trading slugs and shots with the criminal underworld in an effort to right the wrongs that police are unable to involve themselves. Bridging the gap between Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Johnny Dollar, Dirk Gently & Mike Hammer, Detective Roland’s adventures have appeared in a number of quick-and-dirty publications, and most recently in a novel entitled Noir Time Like The Present. But his meta-textual nature, magical realist perception of the universe, and penchant for getting into situations he has no business getting into has made him the perfect radio personality, and his work on this show is always a treat. When he told me about this story, I knew we had to bring it to the air.
I’ve been a fan of X-Minus One since just after High School, when I first came across a collection of cassettes that contained a selection of Sci-Fi programs from the golden age of radio. Of course, it hasn’t been until the last several years that this material has been easily accessible. While there are a number of website that offer a number of old time radio programs for download, I recommend The Twilight Zone Network who offer regular podcasts containing these classic shows as they were heard by audiences in the ‘50’s. It’s nice to be listening to your regular selection of Radiolabs and Planet Moneys, and then have one of these vintage programs pop up in the mix. It offers a good counterpoint to the kinds of radio that exist now, and makes me long for the days when radio brought you narrative programs.
This particular episode – The Embassy – was originally broadcast on Dimension X radio on 3 June 1950. Dimension X was the program that preceded X Minus One, and a number of the same staff, writers and voice actors worked on the program. The story was originally penned by Donald Wollheim for Astounding Science Fiction Magazine, which has sustained a few name changes over the years, and is now known as the well-read Analog. Wollheim was one of the founding Futurians, a group of left-wing science fiction fans (as well editors and writers like Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl), and is probably best known the organizer of the first Sci-Fi convention. The Embassy was originally published in March of 1942, and while it was not his most famous story, it is a well-known one among Sci-Fi Radio nerds like me.
The story was “adapted for radio” by George Lefferts, one of the staff writers for both Dimension X and X Minus One. Lefferts had a fascinating and unusual career, that spanned from the ‘40’s into the ‘80’s. He worked for television, film, radio, newspapers, magazines, and documentaries, primarily as a writer, but also as a producer and behind-the-scenes staffer. I know him primarily from the credits of these programs, but his work is so diverse that it makes sense that he would be attracted to a strange story like this. It contains all the usual trappings of a Hard Boiled detective story – a murdered partner, beautiful girls, a client who turns on him, getting drugged and trying to find out why, a run-in with the police – and yet all these elements are completely turned upside down, and the scary, Sci-Fi tinges really sell this episode in a big way. Like a lot of great media, there are parts when you think this could very well just be an exaggerated detective program that will have a sort-of Scooby Doo ending. However, it makes a good hard turn into X Minus One territory in the second act, and as a show that pretends to be one thing and is, actually, another, it seems perfect for Halloween.
I’ve had an incredible holiday season this year, and produced some really excellent shows of which I am proud. Halloween means a lot to me, and shows like this really allow me to indulge in my own interests, tell a story that I find unique, and present radio that is both fun and seasonally appropriate, all at the same time. Thanks again for bringing me to your ears, and supporting something as strange and unusual as I can possibly manage. You guys are amazing, really.
See ya real soon!
01.) The Embassy Part I * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
02.) High Terror * Eddie Warner * Cops Crooks and Spies * L’Illustration Musicale Records
03.) The Embassy Part II * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
04.) Divide And Conquer * Hüsker Dü * Flip Your Wig * SST Records
05.) The Embassy Part III * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
06.) Shot by Both Sides * Magazine * Real Life * Virgin Records
07.) The Embassy Part IV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
08.) Find A Hidden Door * The Misunderstood * Before The Dream Faded * Cherry Red
09.) The Embassy Part V * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
10.) The Sky Is Falling, And I Want My Mommy (Falling Space Junk) * Jello Biafra With Nomeansno * The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy * Alternative Tentacles Records
11.) The Embassy Part VI * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
12.) Body Twist * Frankie Stein And His Ghouls * Monster Sounds And Dance Music * Power Records
13.) Postludio Alla Terza Moglie (from Barbalu) * Ennio Morricone * Crime And Dissonance
14.) The Embassy Part VII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
15.) The Call * Straitjacket * Modern Thieves * Jonny Cat Records
16.) The Embassy Part VIII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
17.) Little Drop Of Poison * Tom Waits * Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards * ANTI- Records
18.) The Embassy Part IX * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
19.) I Walk Among Them * MX-80 Sound * Out Of The Tunnel * Ralph Records
20.) The Embassy Part X * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
21.) Fascist Cops * The Kids * The Kids * Philips Records
22.) The Embassy Part XI * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
23.) Grave Mistake * David And Jad Fair * Halloween Songs * Thick Syrup Records
24.) Diabolo’s Theme * The Ghastly Ones * A-Haunting We Will Go-Go * Zombie-A-Go-Go Records
25.) The Embassy Part XII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
26.) Keep Talking * The Love Me Nots * In Black & White * Atomic A Go Go Records
27.) The Embassy Part XIII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
28.) Human Cattail * Last Of The Juanitas * In The Dirt * Wäntage Records
29.) The Embassy Part XIV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
30.) The Plan * Richard Hell And The Voidoids * Blank Generation * Sire Records
31.) The Embassy Part XV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
32.) Detective Theme * Eddie Warner * Cops Crooks and Spies * L’Illustration Musicale Records
33.) The Invasion is Coming * The Invasion * Lux and Ivy’s Favorites Volume Fourteen * http://kogarsjunglejuice.blogspot.com/
Back For Christmas (Detective Dexter Roland presents a classic episode of Suspense from 23 December 1943, with Peter Lorre in the lead roll! Originally podcast on 24 December 2011.)
Detective Dexter Roland, Private Investigator, was about to head home to Max’s Bar, for a few Christmas Eve cocktails to celebrate the holiday properly. Little did he know that Peter Lorre was going to drop by, to deliver a tale that is perfect for the holiday season. From the Old Time Radio radio archives, we bring you Back For Christmas, a tale well calculated to keep you in… Supense!
This podcast-only show features a perfect marriage: moody, holiday-ish music with a creepy tale with a last minute turn that is perfect for this kind of medium. Bartók has always had a bit of a spooky feel to him anyway, and his renditions of Roumanian Christmas Carols seemed all to appropriate to complement Peter Lorre’s European-is accent. While I can’t exactly claim that Moonbell fits exactly right, I feel as if the “White Light” being sung about could be seen as a metaphor for what the main character may be thinking at that point in the story. And Dexter Roland tying it all together? Well, let’s just say it had been a while, and our guest Peter Lorre inspired his return.
Not much else to say about this one. If all goes well, there should be a good New Year’s show coming up this weekend. And stay tuned for big things in January. 2012 will be interesting.
See you in seven.
Back For Christmas
# Title * Artist * Album * Further Info
01.) Back For Christmas * Suspense Cast * 23 December 1943 * CBS Radio
02.) Roumanian Christmas carols Sz. 57 * Béla Bartók (Performed by György Sàndor) * Complete Solo Piano Music
03.) Winter Snow * Booker T & The MGs * The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959 – 1968 * Stax Records
04.) White Light * Moonbell * Figurine EP * Self-Released
05.) Listen, The Snow Is Falling * Galaxie 500 * This Is Our Music * Rough Trade