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Thursday 13 Jun 2024

Police Drama of 1950s
Streeter Click

Unusual approach to crime drama from the early 1950s. The stories are dark, and the production aurally, "Broadway Is My Beat" was a labyrinth of sounds. The result was often befuddling, sometimes disturbing and always complex.

"Detective Danny Clover" was a "Times Square Detective," when the show originated from New York. After production moved to Los Angeles, in July 1949, "Clover" worked homicide. "From Times Square to Columbus Circle," said the announcer as he set the tone, "the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest [sic] mile in the world."

"Broadway Is My Beat" (BIMB) premiered at 5:30 pm on Sunday the 27th of February 1949. Dunning reports the show aired "in at least 15 different timeslots [on CBS]; heard virtually every night of the week, at some point." CBS ran BIMB as "sustaining programming," that is, without a regular sponsor, even during its two full seasons. Think filler, and transcribed for release at convenient times.

Antony Ross portrayed Clover, while the show originated from New York. John Dietz directed, Lester Gottlieb produced. Music was by Robert Stringer.

For the full run of the show, from New York City and Los Angeles, the theme was, "I'll Take Manhattan." The lyric was by Lorenz Hart, with music by Richard Rogers. "I'll Take Manhattan" premiered, in 1925, in the "The Garrick Gaieties," and was much too innocent to frame this lurid melodrama.

When BIMB moved to Los Angeles, beginning 7 July 1949, Elliot Lewis got his first directing credit, and also produced. Wilbur Hatch was musical director. No writings credits are available for the New York production, but in Los Angeles, Morton Fine and David Friedkin wrote.

Larry Thor took over the "Danny Clover" role. "Sergeant Gino Tartaglia" was played by Charles Calvert. "Sergeant Muggavan" was Jack Kruschen. Most every character actor of the day appeared on BIMB, including Hy Averback, Ben Wright, Lou Gerson and Mary Jane Croft, to name three that define a wide range.

"Danny Clover" narrated each story, weaving himself in and out of the action. Dunning suggests Fine and Friedkin liked to stretch metaphors. "The still of August [night time]," they wrote, "is beyond crest now, has broken, begun its downsurge, and in the empty avenue there are trailings of phosphorescence and tricklings of stillness ... time before dawn." Every show ended with a version of, "Broadway is sleeping now ... the furious avenues of the night are still ... only the sleepwalkers are there ... the seekers, the sodden ...."

In the episode, which aired Tuesday, 8 August 1953, Fine and Friedkin weren't lyrical. Killer, "Joe Webb," pleads his innocence. "I didn't do it! I wasn't born, yet. I mean it, officer; he was dead when I got here." After confirming "Webb" is guilty, "Clover" segues into "Broadway is sleeping now ...."

The crimes "Clover" described tended to the gruesome, always less than glamorous and usually seedy. "Philip Marlowe" dealt with classy, often complex, crimes. "Richard Diamond" was pure whimsy. "Sam Spade" solved silly crimes and misadventures. "Clover" trolled the lurid side of life, and New York City, implied the Los Angeles writers, was a most lurid place.

BIMB is an unusual show. Dunning writes that it "was noisy," and he's right. The show was performed in what amounts to an sound chamber, perhaps to convey a sense of cavernous crime scenes among the skyscrapers. New York is a noisy city, but not hollow, as BIMB portrays it, and never has been.

From 7 July 1949 to 25 August 1949, BIMB ran as a "Summer Series," on CBS. The show aired sporadically before getting two full seasons, 9 September 1951 to October 1953, and sporadically, again, until 1 August 1954.

Here are two episodes of "Broadway Is My Beat," the first and the last. Click to Listen!

"Jimmy Dorn" 7 July 1949.

"Floyd Decker" 1 August 1954.

John Dunning (1998), "On the Air: the encyclopedia of old-time radio," is published by Oxford University Press. Pp. 120-121.

Jerry Haendiges, "Broadway Is My Beat: log." 16 February 2005.

Click here for more Old Time Radio shows.

Streeter Click is editor of GrubStreet.ca.

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