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New Adventures of Michael Shayne, Volume 1 - 7 hours [Audio CDs] #RA176
The New Adventures of Michael Shayne, Volume 1

7 hours - Audio CD Set

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Product Code: RA176


The New Adventures of Michael Shayne
Volume 1

"Half a dozen bullets smashed through the window. I just held my breath and said a few appropriate words to any archangels who might be listening. I felt something bite into my neck. I thought, 'So long, Mike...it's been fun...'"

Jeff Chandler, circa 1946Brains, brawn, and an insatiable attraction to attractive and dangerous females. A cigarette dangling from the corner of the mouth, a slouch hat parked on a coat rack in a seedy downtown office, a willingness to get beaten, punched, sapped, shot, and generally abused for twenty bucks a day. It was everything that radio listeners came to expect from the tough guy noir detectives of the mid-1940s. And all of these traditional elements fit Michael Shayne to a tee.

The thing is, though, he didn't start out that way. In fact, unlike practically any other private eye of the time, Mike Shayne began his fictional life as a happily married man!

Created by Brett Halliday, a pseudonym for writer Davis Dresser, Shane first hung out his shingle in a 1939 novel titled "Dividend on Death". Looking for an angle that would separate his new hero from the standard run of tough-guy dime novel detectives, Dresser had Shayne, "that reckless, red-headed Irishman", married to an attractive young lady named Phyllis, a strong-minded sort with a penchant for pursuing mysteries. (Think of Pam North married to Sam Spade and you'll quickly get the picture.) The martial angle - something almost never before seen in hard-boiled detective fiction - gave the Michael Shayne novels a unique feel, blending detective work with screwball comedy. Phyllis' light-hearted exploits, combined with tight plots, made the early Shayne novels unique and popular with readers - so much so that Dresser would write six additional books featuring the character between 1940 and 1943.

It wasn't long, though, before Dresser realized that Phyllis was a somewhat limited - and limiting - character. Readers of the time did initially enjoy the novelty value she brought to the plots, but their main interest remained with Shane and his investigations. Complicating things was a movie sale; in 1940, 20th Century-Fox bought the rights to Michael Shayne as a vehicle for actor Lloyd Nolan, who would play the part in seven second-feature programmers between 1940 and 1942. So Dresser set Phyllis aside for a couple of adventures and she, along with the comedy elements of the novels, soon disappeared altogether. With her departure, the adventures of Michael Shayne, though always well written, became almost indistinguishable from the other private eyes of the time - and that, as it turned out, was a very good thing indeed. For while his private eye counterparts came and went - and Davis Dresser eventually surrendered the character to a long line of ghost writers - Shane kept pounding the pavement in novels and short stories that continued to appear as late as 1985.

On radio, where postwar audiences could never seem to get enough detective adventure, Michael Shayne first appeared in the guise of Wally Maher, an actor who had already made a name for himself playing character roles on a variety of Hollywood-based dramatic series. Debuting over the Mutual Radio Network in October of 1946, Maher portrayed Shayne as an easygoing PI who preferred verbal sparring with his girl Friday Phyllis (Cathy Lewis) and police lieutenant Farraday (Joe Forte) over gunplay and right hooks. Blending detective plots with light comedy in much the same manner as another Mutual detective series, "Let George Do It", this series was only mildly successful and completed its run in January 1947. But this was not to be the end of Shayne on the air - not by a long shot. In 1948, director William P. Rousseau teamed with producer Don Sharpe to rethink the character for a series to be syndicated through the Broadcasters Guild - and it would be this version for which Shayne would ultimately be remembered by radio enthusiasts.

One year earlier, in 1947, Bill Rousseau, actor Jack Webb, and writer Richard Breen had teamed up at San Francisco's KGO to produce "Pat Novak for Hire", a detective series that sounded like nothing else ever before produced for radio. Deeply atmospheric, downbeat, and riddled with both distinctive metaphors and film noir cynicism, "Novak" quickly became a "sleeper" hit on the west coast and made Webb a star almost overnight. What's more, "Novak's" success rapidly began to influence both the content and the feel of most of the other radio detective series being produced at the time. Verbal repartee slowly gave way to hard-hitting action, breezy adventures turned into dark dramas, and the traditional "round up the suspects and announce the killer" conclusions were frequently replaced with tragic endings to sad capers that could have ended no other way. Having successfully brought "Pat Novak" to the air, Rousseau, Webb, and Breen relocated to the bigger budgets of Hollywood - and Rousseau hooked up with radio producer Don Sharpe to reinvent Michael Shayne in Pat Novak's image.

From the beginning, Rousseau envisioned Shayne as a tough, two-fisted he-man, willing to take on any assignment so long as it paid him reasonably well. Previous Shayne adventures had placed him in numerous locales - in the books he was in Miami, while on-screen, he was based in New York - but Rousseau chose to place the character in New Orleans, presumably to take advantage of its unique and often mystical culture. To play the part, Rousseau and Sharpe hired Jeff Chandler, an up-and-coming radio actor who had distinguished himself by being equally adept at comedy as well as drama. Chandler, born Ira Grossel and raised in New York City, was in no way Irish and made no attempt to emulate that aspect of the character - but then this Michael Shayne had next to nothing to do with any earlier Michael Shaynes anyway. Clearly the idea was to make Shayne the New Orleans equivalent of Los Angeles' Philip Marlowe - an underpaid, overworked gumshoe with a regular need for cash and an unfortunate tendency to attract bullets and beatings. (By way of example, in the first two broadcasts of the series, Shayne is sapped, savagely beaten and left for dead, shot at, and takes at least one bullet in the side - and those injuries happen in just TWO cases! No wonder private eyes had a hard time getting insurance...)

If all of this sounds a little over the top, with bullets and fists flying left and right, well...it is, but delightfully so. Walking a fine line between serious drama and send-up, "The New Adventures of Michael Shayne" works as well as it does primarily due to Chandler's always believable performance, the support of radio regulars like William Conrad, Paul Frees, Frank Lovejoy, and Jack Webb, scripts by experienced radio scribes like Robert Ryf and Larry Marcus, and evocative music composed and conducted by John Duffy. Though it was produced for syndication, the series is so well produced and the performances so strong that it is virtually indistinguishable from similar network detective series of the time. Basically, if you enjoy Gerald Mohr in the classic "Adventures of Philip Marlowe", you'll happily find "The New Adventures of Michael Shayne" to be more of the same - hard-hitting, action-packed, often downbeat, but always engrossing.

Jeff Chandler left "Michael Shayne" after 26 episodes and the syndicated series drew to a close - but this wasn't the end of the redheaded Irishman's radio appearances. Being prerecorded for syndication, Bill Rousseau's series continued to run in local markets well into the 1950s and on Armed Forces radio into the late 1960s, providing listeners with perhaps the most distinctive and well-remembered incarnation of the character. In 1952, ABC brought Shayne back to radio in new productions starring Donald Curtis, later replaced by Robert Sterling and Vinton Hayworth, which completed a 39-episode run in 1953. This series, coming relatively late in big-time network radio history, once again returned Shayne to Miami, brought back his girl Friday (this time as Lucy Hamilton, portrayed by Dorothy Donahue), and recaptured some of the lighter aspects of the pre-Chandler production. But, until more episodes of the earlier series or ANY episodes of the later incarnation are discovered, it's likely that the series presented in this seven-hour collection will be the Michael Shayne most radio fans will appreciate and remember.

The fourteen sequential broadcasts heard in this collection have been transferred directly from a series of 16" transcriptions released by the Broadcasters Guild, originally intended for syndication to Canadian radio stations. All have been fully restored for outstanding audio fidelity - truly the finest and best sounding versions of these programs ever made available.

#1 Premier Episode
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#2 The Case of the Hunted Bride
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#3 The Case of the Blood-Stained Pearls
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#4 The Case of the Phantom Gun
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#5 The Hate That Killed
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#6 The Case of the Gray-Eyed Blonde
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#7 The Case of the Model Murder
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#8 The Case of the Generous Killer
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#9 The Pursuit of Death
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#10 The Case of the Crooked Wheel
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#11 The Case of the Wandering Fingerprints
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#12 The Case of the Purloined Corpse
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#13 The Case of the Left-Handed Fan
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

#14 The Case of the Deadly Dough
1948 - 30:00 - Broadcaster's Guild Syndication

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