The Adventures of Frank Race
"The war changed many things - the face of the earth and the people on it. Before the war, Frank Race worked as an attorney, but he traded his law books for the cloak-and-dagger of the O. S. S. When it was over, his former life was over, too... adventure had become his business!"
In the years following World War II, the United States settled into a time of peace and prosperity it had not known since the halcyon days of the 1920s -- but overseas, where much of the world remained devastated by the effects of war, the end of the conflict had not generated the same level of security. Much of Europe remained in desperate need of rebuilding, with the economies of many nations still reeling under the effects of multiple years of deprivation and uncertainty. Likewise, the superpowers that had allied themselves together to defeat the Axis now entered a period of distrust and disagreement - a situation that would develop into a "cold war" that would dominate world power and politics for the next two decades.
Dramatic radio shows in the late 1940s often reflected the changing times; whereas earlier detective shows dealt primarily with murder and mayhem, they now began to introduce villains whose motives were more politically motivated. During the war, of course, there were plots dealing with spies, saboteurs, and fifth columnists - but in the changing times between 1946 and 1950, these tales of underground plots and schemes began to dominate detective shows, introducing villains whose goals were to not only undermine law and order but, if possible, destroy democracy itself.
Into this politically charged atmosphere came many new and different action and adventure programs with an emphasis on espionage. "The Man Called X" starring Herbert Marshall and "Dangerous Assignment" starring Brian Donlevy, for example, both offered stories of high adventure set in strange and exotic locales, where investigators Ken Thurston and Steve Mitchell were often sent to investigate, spy, manipulate, bribe, and sometimes even kill for the good of the civilized world. And, at the end of the decade, another similar character was added to the broadcast mix: Frank Race.
First heard in the spring of 1949, "The Adventures of Frank Race" starred Tom Collins and, later, Paul Dubov as an attorney turned O. S. S. agent turned worldwide investigator. Race had spent most of the war years in foreign service and was frequently decorated for valor but, after he was discharged, he found the courtroom atmosphere of a practicing lawyer to be dull, stuffy, and unchallenging. Clearly, adventure was calling him and so, after finding a strong ally and sidekick in Mark Donovan, a rough but enthusiastic New York City cab driver, Race began a new career as an far-flung investigator. Race was a cultured and sophisticated man about town who seemed to attract violence, intrigue, and beautiful but suspicious ladies in about equal measure. A clever blending of Johnny Dollar (insurance fraud was Race's specialty) and James Bond (ditto the ladies), with just a touch of Bulldog Drummond thrown in for good measure, the suave and smooth Frank Race engaged in adventures which may have began in New York but soon took him all over the world. Sometimes the case would involve fraud, other times theft, but regular listeners could be sure that, somewhere along the way, Race and Donovan would engage in a good solid fistfight, a suspenseful chase, and also end up dealing with an innocent damsel in distress who might or might not be quite as innocent or distressed as she seemed to be.
"The Adventures of Frank Race" was one of the radio series created by the Hollywood-based Bruce Eells Productions and distributed to local stations by Broadcasters Program Syndicate. Eells, a prolific producer, successfully marketed the show to hundreds of local stations throughout the United States and Canada. When aired, the series would feature commercials for a local business rather than a national advertiser; this explains the presence of lengthy musical breaks where commercials would normally be in the shows in this collection. The series would eventually run a total of 43 episodes, playing in local markets well into the mid-1950s.
The shows themselves were a creative blend of familiar voices, well-executed sound effects, and engrossing plots. In addition to Tom Collins and Paul Dubov, actor Tony Barnett was cast as Mark Donovan, with the familiar voices of Jack Kruschen, Wilms Herbert, Lillian Buyeff, Harry Lang, and many other dialect-ready radio regulars lending solid support. The writing and directing chores were shared by Joel Murcott ("Tales of the Texas Rangers", "Cavalcade of America") and Buckley Angell ("Have Gun, Will Travel", "Mr. & Mrs. North"), with Ivan Ditmars as musical director and organist and the unmistakable voice of Art Gilmore announcing each broadcast.
Heard today, the cloak and dagger adventures of Frank Race remain engrossing, action-packed entertainment, offering all the appeal of a good mystery combined with romance, suspense, adventure, and intrigue. And the twenty timeless adventures in this ten-hour set have never sounded better, thanks to the fine-tuned restoration skills of Radio Archives.
#1 The Adventure of the Hackensack Victory
Sunday, May 1, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#2 The Adventure of the Darling Debutante
Sunday, May 8, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#3 The Istanbul Adventure
Sunday, May 15, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#4 The Adventure of Seventeen Black
Sunday, May 22, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#5 The Enoch Arden Adventure
Sunday, May 29, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#6 The Adventure of the Vanishing President
Sunday, June 5, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#7 The Adventure of the Baradian Letters
Sunday, June 12, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#8 The Airborne Adventure
Sunday, June 19, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#9 The Adventure of the Shanghai Incident
Sunday, June 26, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#10 Adventure of the Juvenile Passenger
Sunday, July 3, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#11 The Adventure of the Reckless Daughter
Sunday, July 10, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#12 Adventure of the Silent Heart
Sunday, July 17, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#13 The Adventure of the Garrulous Bartender
Sunday, July 24, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#14 The Adventure of the Vanishing Favorite
Sunday, July 31, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#15 The Adventure of the Embittered Secretary
Sunday, August 7, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#16 The Adventure of the Talking Bullet
Sunday, August 14, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#17 The Adventure of the Fat Man's Loot
Sunday, August 21, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#18 The Adventure of the General's Lady
Sunday, August 28, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#19 The Adventure of the Violent Virtuoso
Sunday, September 4, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions
#20 The Adventure of the Fourth Round Knockout
Sunday, September 11, 1949 - 30:00 - Bruce Eells Productions