Friday, May 25, 2012

BARRIE CRAIG, CONFIDENTIAL INVESTIGATOR: The “Lost” Radio Episodes

William Gargan
Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator was a mystery/detective series starring Hollywood actor William Gargan in the title role. Gargan made the move to New York and was playing the role of Martin Kane on television, another detective series. Barrie Craig, as it was revealed in the premiere episodes, was a private eye who started his career as a credit investigator for a small clothing house in Brooklyn and later as a bodyguard for a large protective agency. When he was 30 years old, he went “on his own” and began a career as a private investigator working anywhere within the vicinity of New York City. 

In the first two broadcasts, “The Simultaneous Man” (October 3, 1951) and “Murder in Duplicate” (October 10, 1951), the detective was named Barrie Crane (later changed to Barrie Craig beginning with the broadcast of October 17, 1951). His pal was Calamity Grogan who ran the Third Avenue Grill where Craig ate clam chowder and got many of his “business calls” on Grogan’s telephone. (Which is odd since Craig had his own office rented out in a building. Why he did not have a phone of his own remains a mystery.) Barrie Craig was serious-minded, relentless and admitted there were many heartbreaks in his business but he always seemed to get the job through. For relaxation, his wisecracks with Calamity Grogan was a highlight of many episodes. Craig usually managed to find himself getting beaten up at least once in every case (possibly inspired by the Sam Spade radio program). The police did not approve of Craig’s activities but they respected the success he had in solving cases. Occasionally, Grogan phoned the police when he feared his pal might be in great danger and the police was forced to come to his rescue.

William Gargan
The series was scripted by many writers, all free-lance in New York City. Many re-hashed plot devices used in former radio programs such as Inner Sanctum Mystery and The Shadow were used on Barrie Craig with the names of characters and places changed slightly but they were clearly re-writes of former radio productions. Edward King was the producer and director for the early episodes, later replaced by Himan Brown. Musical bridges were supplied by recordings. The theme was played by Bert Behrman, an organist, which was later recorded and used instead of his live accompaniment.

The supporting cast consisted of the usual New York City stock actors: Lawson Zerbe, Barbara Weeks, Franc Carlon, Arline Blackburn, Arnold Moss, Joan Alexander, Elspeth Eric, Santos Ortega, Ralph Bell and many others. One of the more notable appearances was Everett Sloane as Duke Brady, a society jewel thief in “Murder in Paradise” (broadcast July 29, 1952).

William Gargan
Beginning with the broadcast of July 6, 1954, the series originated from Hollywood. William Gargan made the switch back to the West Coast so he continued playing the lead. The supporting cast included Victor Rodman, Lou Krugman, Byron Kane, Betty Lou Gerson, Marvin Miller, Virginia Gregg, Vivia Janiss, Olan Soule and for the broadcast of July 20, 1954, Ge Ge Person played the title role of “The Devil’s Little Helper.” Art Jacobson took over the producing and directing chores when the series moved to Hollywood.

Officially, only 191 episodes were produced and broadcast. Only 59 episodes are known to exist. Last year, at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, I was handed twenty scripts from a collector who loaned them to me for a few months. After scanning each page into digital form to create a backup, I also took time to read them and jot down some plot descriptions. Sixteen of them were to “lost” episodes not known to exist in recorded form. So for the rare treat, here are plot summaries and known cast scribbled on the front covers for those we now have plots for. Hopefully one (or two?) of these are floating about in circulation and just mis-dated or not dated accurately, so we can scratch them off the official “lost” list. (I doubt it since Barrie Craig has not been a mess like some radio programs and all 59 are accounted and verified and no one seems to have any undated or untitled episodes in their collection.)

Bombay Clipper (1943) with William Gargan

SIXTEEN LOST EPISODES
Episode #22  “MURDER IN MINK”
Broadcast February 26, 1952
Script by Lou Vittes.
Fran Carlon played the role of Dolly, the girl who lost her mink coat and Barrie Craig sets out to find the mink, only to discover there are other people seeking the same.

Episode #23  “KEY WITNESS”
Broadcast March 5, 1952
Script by John Roeburt.
Stars Barbara Weeks as Lona, whose husband is a notorious and much-wanted gangster. Lona hires Barrie Craig to protect her man from both the underworld and the polie.

Episode #24  “THE UNKNOWN CORPSE”
Broadcast March 12, 1952
Script by John Roeburt.
Barbara Weeks plays Margo, whose step-brother was a gangster about to turn informant when he “committed suicide” by jumping from a window. Margo knows he was poisoned and was thrown from the window. She wants Barrie Craig to find evidence to convict the guilty party.

Episode #38  “MURDER IN MOTION”
Broadcast June 17, 1952
Script by John Roeburt.
Barbara Weeks plays Olga Angora, a movie star of the 1920s, the “dream girl” of Barrie Craig when he was years younger.

As of this point, the official episode numbers are not official because of further research and the way they numbered the scripts by starting back to number #1 with another run on NBC. (Long story made short.) As of this point, I will list the titles and dates, not the episode number.

Broadcast of October 20, 1953
“THE HUNTED HUSBAND”
Script by Lou Vittes.
A woman murders her husband because he is in love with another woman. The wife is Elsie (played by Barbara Weeks). The other woman is a young girl named Judy Marshall. The wife hires Barrie Craig to find her missing husband, mentioning that he had a “crew cut” so that he didn’t look just like the photograph she showed Barrie Craig! When Judy identifies the body, she is shocked at the crew cut because she never saw Tom with a crew cut! This proved that the wife was the only one who knew about this haircut and that she had murdered her husband the day he got the haircut.

Broadcast October 27, 1953
“LOOT FOR A LADY”
Script by John Roeburt.
A mother in an effort to save her daughter from the clutches of a crime leader, murder the man. She pretends to be a paralytic who cannot move herself from her wheel chair. Barrie Craig discovers this and uses it as a clue to her guilt.

Broadcast October 3, 1954
“THE CORPSE THAT COULDN’T SWIM”
Script by Louis Vittes.
Episode 11 of the new run.
Betty Lou Gerson is featured as Jean Arnolt, who killed her husband who was working for a diamond dealer who specialized in stolen jewels.

Broadcast October 10, 1954
“THE MURDER MAN”
Script by John Roeburt.
Julie Bennett plays the role of Lola, the “doll” who literally charms her “real-gone” lover to his death. This episode features a lot of hipster dialogue, now considered dated for the time.

Broadcast October 17, 1954
“THE DEVIL’S JEST”
Script by John Roeburt.
A band of international thieves find that murder speaks a common language when a legendary diamond turns out to have a flaw.

Broadcast October 24, 1954
“MURDER IN GREASE PAINT”
Script by John Roeburt.
A hit television show has the viewers “howling for gore” when an actor meets his death on the set. A great Halloween episode and odd that the radio program centers around a television studios.

Broadcast October 31, 1954
“THE TEARLESS WIDOW”
Script by John Roeburt.
A May-December marriage in which the wealthy old husband is murdered not by his wife as we might believe, nor by his former clerk whom he had railroaded into ten years of prison. Instead, the old gentleman meets death at the hands of his own son who accidentally fired the gun with which his father was attempting to commit suicide. The son then talks to the clerk, just out of prison on parole, to fake a “confession” to the murder in return for security for the ex-convict’s wife for “the rest of her days.” Charlotte Lawrence plays the role of the tearless widow of the wealthy old man.

Broadcast December 12, 1954
“THE FATAL PUNCH”
Script by John Roeburt.
Cast: Joan Banks, Herb Ellis, Tom McKee, Jack Moyles and Barney Phillips.
Story of a boxer known for his murderous punch and how his status in the fight world through losing an elimination contest to… death! Barrie Craig is hired to stay with Kid Mendero until he climbs into the ring for a big fight. Actually, the Kid had a weak heart and knew that he could never pass his medical before the big match. If the news about the bad heart got to the public, the insurance policy held on the Kid – predicated on the Kid’s being in “fighting condition” – would become invalid. The Kid’s manager-owner-promoter held the policy and managed to get the Kid killed by a “hit-and-run driver” before the truth was known.

Broadcast December 26, 1954
“DEATH HIRES A HURRICANE”
Script by Louis Vittes.
Story about a hurricane, a blonde, a suitcase full of dollar bills and a murder. Gloria Grant plays the role of the blonde, Nora. Others in the cast included Tom McKee, Barney Phillips and Jack Moyles.

Broadcast April 20, 1955
“CORPSE IN A CAGE”
Script by Louis Vittes.
This episode dramatizes how a murderer is led to confess his crime when he thinks a tame bear is a dangerous animal. The murderer had thrown his victim into a bear’s cage. Barrie Craig gets a tame bear and builds up a story to the various murder suspects by telling them only the guilty one need fear when the bar is let out of his cage. Craig says the bear will remember the scent of the murderer and go directly to him. Actually, Craig had planted honeycomb on the man he believed to be the murderer but from whom he had no confession. Surprisingly, the tricks works!

Broadcast May 19, 1955
“TERROR IN THE BALL PARK”
Script by John Roeburt.
Cast: Gail Bonney, Bert Holland, Tom McKee and George Niese.
Barrie Craig is hired to investigate wholesale sabotage of a baseball club. (Not to be confused with the recording circulating about the basketball team.)

Broadcast of June 16, 1955
“BRAINWASHED”
Script by John Roeburt.
Cast: Herb Butterfield, Joan Banks, Shep Menken, Larry Dobkin
Barrie Craig tracks down a criminal who is a composite of brain-washer, stock-swindler, rifleman and arsonist. The entire way to crime is set off by greed for gain and uranium.

2 comments:

David Richy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Godfrey said...

Excellent article on Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator. Listened to one of the shows yesterday and it kept my attention from beginning to the end, which is very important to me.

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