Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday's Favorite OTR

Casey, Crime Photographer: “Treasure Cave” 9/25/47
The character of Flashgun Casey was originally created in 1934, in a series of short stories written by George Harman Coxe.

Flashgun was a hard-boiled, tough news photographer who took pride in doing his job well, but whose empathetic nature would often sink him deeper into a criminal investigation than simply snapping a few pictures.

Coxe’s stories are fun and fast-moving—worthy additions to the hard-boiled genre.

But when Casey came to radio, he was softened up quite a bit. A pretty girl reporter, Ann Matthews, became his regular partner in what was a much more traditional whodunit.

For fans of Coxe’s original character, this is a bit disappointing. But, on the other hand, the show was well-written and well-produced. The mysteries were fairly constructed and intriguing. If Casey didn’t have the same strong personality as his prose counterpart, at least he was likeable and believable as a crime-solver.

In this episode, Casey, Ann and Captain Logan (their regular police contact) end up investigating a series of mysterious deaths in a remote cave. Supposedly, the cave is haunted by the ghosts of pirates and each of the victims died in some strange way related to old-time piracy—one was drowned, one was cut down with a cutlass and the third was shot with a flintlock pistol.

Our heroes soon figure out what’s going on (though not in time to stop another murder—this one via a flint-tipped arrow) and catch the real, very non-ghostly killer. It’s a good mystery---a bit spooky at first, but with an understandable motivation for the crimes eventually revealed.

It’s too bad the hard-boiled Casey never made it to radio. Shows like Sam Spade, Pat Novak and Philip Marlowe clearly demonstrated that the hard-boiled style translated very well to radio. But the radio Casey we do have is a nice guy. And he’s good at catching crooks. It was enough to make the show still enjoyable to listen to today.

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