OLD TIME RADIO - 1 CD - 6 mp3 - Total Playtime: 1:32:14
Black Book was a crime program was narrated by Paul Frees and featured an almost perfect crime each week. The criminal was very careful but would always make one fatal mistake. The show, which aired from 1951 to 1952, challenged it's listeners to solve the crime before the end of the show. Can you solve the crime?
Paul Frees, arguably Radio's single most prolific, widely heard voice throughout the Golden Age of Radio and The Golden Age of Television, was particularly busy between 1948 and 1952, as CBS sought vehicle after vehicle for him to lead. Between those years, CBS showcased Frees as the lead in:
The Player (1948) as all scripted characters
Studio X (1948) as all scripted characters
The Green Lama (1949) as Jethro Dumont, The Green Lama
Crime Correspondent (1949) as Larry Mitchell, Radio Crime Reporter
The Man In Black (1951) as 'The Teller of Tales'
The Black Book (1952) as 'The Teller of Tales'
This of course, in addition to Frees' various announcing, narrating and character acting roles in scores of other CBS dramatic vehicles. He'd been the announcer on Suspense for 100+ episodes throughout that period, as well as acting in both Suspense and Escape! throughout the same period. In addition, out on the west coast, ABC had Frees airing a nightly D.J. program from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.. Clearly one of CBS Pacific's plum performers, in spite of the number of starring vehicles CBS created for him, either his other professional demands--or CBS' understandable need of him supporting other CBS programming requirements--limited almost all of his starring vehicles to a couple of months in duration--or less.
For anyone within listening distance of either a Radio or Television from the 1950s until Frees' death in 1986, there's no question that, in all likelihood, they heard Paul Frees' voice at least once per day, virtually every day of their lives, over one medium or another. Indeed, a University study once determined that so ubiquitous was Paul Frees' voicework during the 1960s and 1970s, that there was literally not one day of Television or Radio during that period in which Paul Frees' voice was not heard.
We have no way of knowing whether the numerous attempts to find Frees a starring vehicle of more than a couple of months in duration was a source of frustration to him--or not. It's hard to imagine Frees feeling disappointment in any case. Given the unprecedented level at which Frees was gainfully employed in Film, Radio, Television, and Animation from his return to civilian life after his service in World War II until his death in 1986, it's hard to imagine him feeling in any way lacking--over any medium. But whether he felt any frustration either personally or professionally in finding a starring vehicle for his enormous talent, it's a foregone conclusion that his growing body of fans had to have been feeling a bit frustrated by CBS in the process.
Indeed, all four of the above cited solo vehicles for Frees were compelling, well-produced, well-performed, and well-written Radio. We say four, because The Player and Studio X were clearly the same vehicle, simply repackaged to subtlely differentiate one from the other. The Man In Black, while there's as yet no record of it having aired beyond three auditions, seemed the plausible foundation for The Black Book. The Man In Black was a catchy spin-off from Suspense--another extraordinarily successful CBS vehicle, but apparently some party to the concept felt that The Man In Black would be confused with Suspense. When The Man In Black ultimately aired in the CBS line-up for the Spring of 1952, it was as The Black Book.
Frees was still 'The Teller of Tales from The Black Book', in any case--as was The Man In Black. His supporting cast for the first three The Black Book programs that actually aired comprised John Dehner and Virginia Gregg--two of the finest, most versatile West Coast players then available. Legendary Norm Macdonnell [of Escape, Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie, and Adventures of Philip Marlowe fame] wrote, produced and directed all three production scripts, and brilliant composer Leith Stevens scored the beautiful musical backdrop throughout. Clearly there wasn't a single aspect of The Black Book that wasn't absolutely top-notch, so it defies logic as to why it was--in our opinion--prematurely dropped from the line-up. For our money, we'd sit through a Paul Frees reading of the phonebook for an hour or half-hour a week--that's how mesmerizing and compelling his voice alone, was.
Text from Digital Deli
Black Book 520217 01 - On Schedule
Black Book 520224 02 - My Favorite Corpse
Black Book 520302 03 - Vagabond Murder
Man in Black 511121 - [Aud1] Different Readings
Man in Black 511121 - [Aud2] Different Readings
Man in Black 520202 - The Price of the Head
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