Shows similar to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?

Open, general discussion of old-time radio and early television
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Shows similar to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?

Unread post by lewcody1919 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:34 pm

For the past year, I have really been enjoying listening to the very famous Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. Aside from listening to surviving episodes of I Love a Mystery (and watching the film trilogy based on the show), I haven't listened to much other OTR. I tried some Inner Sanctum but I couldn't get into it. I just love Johnny Dollar so much...the earlier hour-long episodes are fantastic but even the 20 minute ones are just so meaty and concise and pack such a punch that every time I listen I get the feeling that I do when I'm watching a really good short poverty row programmer. I haven't logged on here in forever but I thought I would ask if anyone could kindly recommend me similar OTR to Johnny Dollar? Thank you (:

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Re: Shows similar to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:29 pm

There are a couple of things you find listening to OTR mysteries and detective shows... they can be more gruesome than movies were back then. They can also be a LOT more poorly written. I Love a Mystery in particular is one that I find willing to get its protagonists in an impossible situation... and then get them out of it in a completely impossible, you gotta be kidding me way.

So Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar really stands out for the quality of the writing, comparable to a good tough B movie of the period. If I had to name a second show I like a lot it would be The Whistler. It's kind of halfway in between Johnny Dollar and Inner Sanctum, in that it has a sinister narrator who seems to know everything (they're usually narrated in second person—"Yes, Doris Foonman, you thought you could just club your boss over the head with a pork loin and that would be smooth sailing for you!"), but the stories are fairly hardbitten and realistic, not supernatural-- and as noted, much more gruesome and doom-laden than the Production Code would allow. So I think they're of comparable quality, if not the same genre exactly.

I haven't heard a lot of either of these, but I've liked The Adventures of Sam Spade, with Howard Duff mostly, and Casey, Crime Photographer in its various incarnations. Also, for fun check out Bob & Ray's occasional sketches about Ace Willoughby, International Detective, with Ray doing a dead-on imitation of Bob Bailey's breathless Johnny Dollar.

Finally, there's a lot of streaming radio content at the BBC Radio site, which you can listen to usually for the month or so that it's available, but they repeat stuff a lot. There's a lot of Paul Temple and The Saint shows, as well as the inevitable Sherlock Holmes. More fun, there are have been pretty decent adaptations of Raymond Chandler with Toby Stephens, Maggie Smith's son, who manages a suitable period American accent most of the time; he also does James Bond (which is fitting in that he was a Bond villain in Die Another Day). Start here: ... ama/player" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: Shows similar to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?

Unread post by Chris Snowden » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:48 am

lewcody1919 wrote:I haven't logged on here in forever but I thought I would ask if anyone could kindly recommend me similar OTR to Johnny Dollar? Thank you (:
The problem with the radio detective shows is that there were just so many of them that inevitably the run-of-the-mill shows outnumber the gems by a wide margin. But there's some great stuff out there. You might try an old favorite of mine, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. It's got everything: solid stories with plenty of drama, blended with a dash of sarcastic humor and a pinch of romance. To me, it's the most entertaining of the detective shows. Dick Powell stars as Diamond, and he's absolutely perfect in the role.

You might also try Pat Novak for Hire, starring a pre-Dragnet Jack Webb as a very hard-boiled San Francisco detective. I have so much fun listening to Webb's dialogue that I tend to lose track of the storylines! (Careful, though--- a large percentage of the circulating episodes are in rough audio quality.)

And if you've already exhausted what survives of I Love a Mystery, try Adventures by Morse. Both shows were written and produced by Carlton E. Morse, and they both cover the same territory: blood-and-thunder adventure-mysteries with lots of weird murders, eccentric characters and possibly supernatural stuff going on. The heroes of ABM are essentially Jack and Doc from ILAM, with different names. You might also try I Love Adventure, which was a brief summer series reviving the characters from I Love a Mystery in self-contained 30-minute stories. I Love Adventure doesn't quite work for me, but you might enjoy it more than I do, and it's a must for any die-hard ILAM fan.

Oh, and for other shows that can pack a punch, try Escape, The Whistler and Lights Out. (There are a lot of outstanding episodes of Suspense too, but also a whole lot of ordinary ones.)
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Re: Shows similar to Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar?

Unread post by wich2 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:31 am

Lew, this big Chandler/MARLOWE fan is in the minority, not caring much for the long Gerald Mohr run; but the handful of Van Heflin episodes (a few more were recently uncovered) are a good listen.

(For me, the radio SPADE and NOVACK are too camped.)

If you like the genre's grandaddy, SHERLOCK HOLMES, a minority opinion: in their later episodes, Rathbone is increasingly bored, and Bruce increasingly dopey; but the early NBC episodes are good. And my favorite team, the Brits Hobbs and Shelley, had a great long run.

If you don't mind your detective being a policeman? DRAGNET. Terrific.

And another vote for SUSPENSE. One of radio's best anthologies, with many mystery/detective shows, several from legendary authors.

(A sometime radio Sherlock himself)

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