RARA-AVIS: RE: Sam Spade on the Radio

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 04 May 2001

Last night, a Los Angeles radio station rebroadcast an episode from the old Sam Spade series. The Spade shows IMO are the best of old time radio. The title character, played by Howard Duff, was just as tough as his book counterpart, but the shows were much funnier and satiric than the novel or short stories. According to Hellman, Hammett never listened to them, merely cashed the checks. Wonder what he would have thought of the one last night. Titled "The Critical Author Caper" and originally broadcast 8/15/48, it's an uncredited half-hour adaptation of "The Dain Curse," with Spade trying to help Gabrielle Leggett overcome her addiction (to whisky in this case -- it's 1948, after all). The "Author" in the title is Owen Fitzstephan. There's a pretty amusing discussion of his mystery novels, "Morgue Fruit" and "The Spindly Stiff," which Spade's secretary, Effie Perine, is reading. She and Spade also get into a brief discussion of Hammett, with Effie stumbling over the name and calling him Hashiell Dammit. Maybe they'd just learned that he never tuned in.

Dick Lochte

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