Updated: Jan 20
The 2020 season of The Radioplay Hour involves Murder, Mystery, Horror & Fantasy. It begins with the Dashiell Hammett story of The Thin Man, a murder mystery that doubles as a sophisticated comedy of manners as a former detective, who has given up his profession to manage his wife lumber fortune, is approached by the secretary of a former client who was murdered, he is drawn in, urged on by his wife, who loves a mystery
The book became the basis for a successful six-part film series, which began in 1934 with The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy; the film was directed by W. S. Van Dyke. It was later then dramatized as a radio play on an hour-long broadcast of Lux Radio Theatre on June 8, 1936.
Following this is The Fat Man: Murder is the Medium, an adventure involving a portly PI, who tipped the scales at 237 pounds, who is asked to investigate a shady rug dealer & his psychic wife who converses with deceased loved ones. This character was credited to Dashiell Hammett but was developed by producer, E.J. Rosenberg & written by Richard Ellington, Robert Sloane and Lawrence Klee, leading the Fat Man to become one of radio’s greatest icons during the 1940s and early 1950s with the vocal talent of J. Scott Smart.
The portly PI, who goes by the name Brad Runyon, was dubbed “a cross between Sam Spade & Nick Charles”. He was a charming, witty lady-killer who was tough as nails but could sometimes dispense a little frivolity along the way! Both characters were created by Dashiell Hammett.
As a little bit of extra trivia There was also an Australian version of The Fat Man, which premiered on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on September 9, 1954 and ran through 1955 for a total of 52 episodes. The role of Brad Runyon was played in this version by Lloyd Berrell.
You can’t have a season of murder mystery without the most famous detective of all… Sherlock Holmes! NBC started broadcasting Sherlock Holmes in 1930.
Before Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman played Holmes & Watson, none have become more identified with the roles than Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. The duo performed Conan Doyle's creations in radio, movies, and briefly on television in the early 1950's. The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual is one of the most famous stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is set in a time before Holmes had met Watson, and sees the detective undertaking a treasure hunt.
If you hunt for women in leading roles on old time radio programs, your choices our few. Women roles were usually relegated to supporting roles, but after World War II things started to change. Candy Matson --Yukon 2-8209 was one of them, and she was most successful feminine detective radio produced.
She was a dazzling doll with a brassy voice that conveyed good humour and a hard edge but her looks never got in the way of her duties and she handled guns & bad guys with expertise.
In Candy Matson & the Cable Car Murder our heroine was sitting beside a man on a Cable Car when it appears that he had been killed. Candy didn’t know him from Adam and suddenly she is a suspect and the only thing for her to do was to investigate herself.
For Halloween the truly bizarre tale of Horror & Murder in The Catwife, was voted as "the best" by listeners in 1938. Written by Arch Oboler and aired on the program “Lights Out!”, we hear an argument between a husband and wife that spins out of control. When she threatens to leave him, and he calls her a cat, which transforms her into a yowling, scratching feline.
The best episodes of “Lights Out” were devoid of any moral sense; as it was a show low on heroes, hope, or resolution leading us to our final show of the year where following is restored involving wishes, fairy’s, crickets and a little wooden boy in Pinocchio.
February: The Thin Man
April: The Fat Man in Murder is the Medium
June: Sherlock Holmes and The Musgrave Ritual
August: Candy Matson P.I & the Cable Car Murder
October: The Cat Wife
Click on The Radioplay Hour for dates and locations, and keep and eye out for further blogs with more information about the shows!