See separate page for: More than 50 Radio Adaptations and individual pages about Deadline USA | Five Star Final | Foreign Correspondent | Front Page Woman | The Front Page & His Girl Friday | Laura | Love Is News | Park Row | Penny Serenade | State Fair | Capra Films | Call Northside 777 | The Philadelphia Story — (Some may be password-protected for classroom use or as work-in-progress.)
Radio “at the movies”? Yes! The Golden Age of radio coincided with the Golden Age of Hollywood in more ways than one. On numerous “radio anthology” series, Hollywood stars re-created their own — or each other’s — classic movie roles, sometimes more than once.
Here’s one character — Flash Casey — who started in pulp novels, made it to two movies, then went on to radio, TV and comic books. For more about the film, see the Internet Movie Database pages for “Here’s Flash Casey” (1938) and “Women Are Trouble” (1936). But for a quick introduction, here’s a clip of the character setting out to land his first newspaper job in the 1938 film.
Unlike his first boss, a crusty editor who greeted him with “Not THE Flash Casey!… Never heard of you,” fans of newspapers and photography should have fun getting to know Flash Casey, radio’s best-known news photographer. For a dozen years on radio, plus film, comic book and TV incarnations, Casey was the classic wise-cracking, fedora-wearing newspaper cameraman.
Finding a job may be rough today, but it has rarely been easy, as the opening scenes of the movie illustrate. Still, like Casey, you never know whom you might run into. (To understand that reference, watch the clip, or the full-length film Here’s Flash Casey, at Archive.org.) Casey’s attitude, camera and sense of humor already show promise, even if it is only a B-movie.
(Students: If you’re interested in “new technology,” watch for the appearance of a pre-war Leica 35mm camera later in the film, along with several scenes of pre-Photoshop image-manipulation worth discussing in a media-ethics class.)
During his long run on radio, Casey was the old pro, not the young graduate in the movie. In the series called “Flashbulb Casey,” “Casey, Crime Photographer” or just “Crime Photographer,” he was the “ace cameraman who covers the crime news of a great city,” usually with the help of reporter Ann Williams and the regulars at the Blue Note Cafe. Most of the plots involved more crime-solving than crime-reporting, but often had very good jazz piano in the background.
Searching from the front page of JHeroes.com will find an overview page and individual blog posts about Crime Photographer episodes, but here are a couple of examples:
This radio episode (from one of the Internet Archive’s several Casey pages) is Bright New Star, in which Casey and Annie present some time-honored skepticism about press-agentry and publicity-seekers.
This second episode, also thanks to the OTRRG collection at Archive.org, is Source of Information, in which Casey has a visit from a down-on-his-luck former reporter who has been sitting on a big expose for, perhaps, too long.
More movies on the radio
Casey is just an opening example. The movies longest-running “girl reporter,” Torchy Blane, didn’t get her own radio series, but did appear on at least a couple of variety shows. On an October 31, 1937, episode of “Thirty Minutes in Hollywood,” actress Glenda Farrell and co-stars Barton MacLane and Tom Kennedy presented scenes from their “Blondes at Work,” the fourth in the series. Host George Jessel even asked the radio audience to write in and say whether Torchy and her policeman boyfriend should get married, a frequent theme in the films, along with her beating him to crime clues. Earlier that year she was plugging “Adventurous Blonde” by appearing in “The Chase and Sanborn Hour” on August 22 interviewing the flirtatious Charlie McCarthy, who makes a pass at her because he has heard of “freedom of the press,” or so he says.
While there may not have been any full-length Torchy Blane stories on radio, there were dozens of other “newspaper movies” that had on-the-air incarnations through “anthology” programs — Academy Award Theater, Theater Guild Players, Lux Radio Theater and other such series: Radio adaptations of classic films
For more about newspaper movies, minus the radio-adaptation angle, see Joe Saltzman’s the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture project.