Reporters as ‘practically policemen’

This “Twenty-minute Alibi” episode from “Crime Photographer,” February 1947, almost makes me wonder whether the script was originally an idea for “Your Truly, Johnny Dollar,” the hit series about an insurance investigator. I even checked Radio GoldinDex’s credit list for author Robert Sloane, but Johnny Dollar wasn’t there. However Sloane was also listed as narrator for several episodes of “The Big Story,” a true-story journalism series, including a murder case from The Hartford Courant, where I was a reporter once! Those newspaper-dramas do breed a lot of coincidences.

In any case, the always-suspicious Casey and reporter Ann Williams do a fine job of figuring out the insurance-related mystery, looking for a murder in a suspected suicide. The reporter and photographer even being allowed at the scene of the crime are quite a contrast with 21st century police-media relations. We get some solid 1940s pay-phone culture, when there were live operators on the line. And Casey gives a hint of an alleged old newspaper-photographer technique — bribing someone with the promise, “Look, if you do this little job for us, you’ll get your picture in the paper!” (“See, he’s got a camera and everything,” Annie adds.) This episode also has a good plug for the regular piano player, Herman Chitterson, who played himself at the fictional Blue Note lounge.

We also get a “door knock after a death” classic reporting scene, in which the father-in-law of the deceased mentions that Casey and Ann aren’t the first journalists to visit. But the widow is quite willing to talk. And her father is quite willing to speak ill of the dead. Reporter Ann also seems to take a bigger part in the sleuthing, telling a doorman, “But we’re practically policemen. Show him your press badge, Casey.” And then doing some quick mental arithmetic to figure out the whereabouts of a suspect, and joining Casey in tailing a suspect by car and on foot.

For more about the episode, see Casey chronicler Joe Webb’s “Blue Note Bulletin” blog for “The Twenty-Minute Alibi.”

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who sank into computers and the Web during graduate school in the 1980s and '90s, then taught journalism, media studies and Web production, retiring to write and play more music.
This entry was posted in 1940s, Casey, reporters. Bookmark the permalink.

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