I'm a sucker for mystery shows dealing with old-time radio and this one's a honey. The film was helmed by Otis Garrett, a movie editor who moved up to directing eleven films from 1938 to 1941. The cast is a line-up of B-movie familiars: Donald Woods, William Lundigan, Edward Van Sloan, Peter Lind Hayes, and a 27-year-old Lee J. Cobb, among others.
Danger on the Air concerns the death of Caesar Kluck (Berton Churchill, Stage Coach, I Am a Fugitive from the Chain Gang, etc.), the lothario sponsor of a radio show. Sound engineer Benjamin Butts (Woods) discovers that it was murder and is fired by his boss, Harry Jones (Jed Prouty, A Star Is Born, The Gracie Allen Murder Case, etc.). Complications naturally ensue before he can solve the case and possibly save his job.
As with any 30s old-time radio mystery, this one is full of wisecracks -- made even better by some of the character names. In addition to Benjamin Butts and Caesar Kluck, we have Steenie MacCorkle (the love interest), Finney Fish, Gangster Joe, and Mr. Fatsnapple. Gotta love a movie like this.
The movie was scripted by Betty Laidlaw and Robert Lively from Death Catches Up with Mr. Kluck (1935), a mystery novel by "Xantippe". Turns out that Xantippe was Edith Meiser, a radio writer and producer. According to Steve Lewis' Mystery File website, Ms. Meisner was said to have written over 300 episodes for the Sherlock Holmes radio show. The Doubleday Crime Crime, which published the book, had a deal with Universal Pictures to film four Crime Club selections a year; Danger on the Air was the fourth book (out of eleven) to filmed as a Crime Club movie.
For more Overlooked Films and/or A/V, check out Sweet Freedom where Todd Mason has all the links.
Peter Lind Hayes. Haven't heard that name in years. He was married to Mary Healy if I am remembering correctly and I think they had a radio show.ReplyDelete
I'm a fan of radio station mysteries as well, Jerry. Thanks for the reminder of what sounds like a good one.ReplyDelete
Two off the top of my head:
WHO DONE IT? with Abbott and Costello - I think that was the name of their radio station mystery.
CHARLIE CHAN AT THE WAX MUSEUM with Sidney Toler. All about murders which begin while a broadcast is on the air at a museum. (Not technically a radio station, but still enjoyable.)