I kind of have this crush on Dick Powell, which started with my infatuation with his beautiful tenor singing voice, and then only grew upon watching Murder, My Sweet. Sadly, that film fulfilled Powell’s wish to get away from the musical typecast he had from starring in many of those 1930s films, like Gold Diggers of 1933 as only one example. The boyish-faced Powell was teamed with Ruby Keeler for many of the Warner Brothers musicals, some directed by famed Busby Berkeley. While it must have been nice for Powell to finally have his wish and be able to establish himself as a solid dramatic actor (and later, leading TV and movie director/producer), that meant no more singing!
It was through a desparate Google search to see what other singing recordings Powell might have done that I came upon an old time radio serial, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. The series ran on radio from 1949 to 1953, and then later on TV from 1957 to 1960. Why did this come up in my search? Well, Powell gave voice to sharp-witted, fast talking private detective Richard Diamond, who ended episodes singing songs to his girlfriend, Helen Asher.
So now basically I’m a big Richard Diamond fan. The show runs a half hour, and each case stands on its own. It has that noir narrative, and each episode details a murder mystery, but I’m usually laughing at several points as well. I really love Old Time Radio, there is so much detail in the sound, creating the atmosphere, but there is that element not present in TV or movies: imagination.
I sometimes think what it would be like to have been born way earlier since I love all this vintage stuff, but on the other hand, I do love my computer, iPod, and the internet. I get the best of both worlds, a lot of this stuff is still around to experience, even though these kinds of shows are much more scarce on our modern airwaves. With that being said, if you are interested in Old Time Radio, the Old Time Radio Researchers is a great place to start. They compile shows into easy to open zip files, complete with information and episode logs, and everything is labeled and dated (which is wonderful if you’re as anal about those things as I am). They certify series by “complete” or “accurate.” Complete will include every episode of the show, accurate will include all episodes known to still exist.
Check some OTR out, there are tons more detective stories, westerns and comedies out there. Jimmy Stewart did a great western show called The Six Shooter, which I am still working my way through, and Gunsmoke was a long running radio series as well.
Old Time Radio Researchers Group: http://www.otrr.org