|Frank Lovejoy as McGraw|
Most baby boomers will have heard of and possibly even seen such well-known private eye/adventurer shows as Peter Gunn with Craig Stevens, Michael Shayne with Richard Denning, Mike Hammer with Darren McGavin, and Richard Diamond, Private Detective with David Janssen, among others. But back in the fifties and sixties there were a whole bunch of private detective shows that resurface from time to time on DVD or on youtube, but which never quite caught on with the public, or at least are not too well remembered all these decades later. For instance:
Meet McGraw, also known as The Adventures of McGraw, lasted for one season and 42 episodes in 1957. Frank Lovejoy [The Crooked Web] plays a sort of private eye who gets involved in various adventures. Lovejoy was good in the part, and first played the character on an episode of Singer's Five Star Playhouse entitled "One for the Road." In this Audrey Totter plays a woman who supposedly wants protection from her jealous husband. Very few episodes of this show are available. The first one I saw, "The Fighter," about a boxer who is inexplicably nervous about his upcoming match, is supposed to be one of the best but is mediocre. Much better is "Ballerina," an interestingly convoluted piece with someone apparently trying to frame a dancer's husband for nefarious acts, with Hans Conreid as guest-star. I liked Lovejoy and hope someday to come across more episodes of this series. **1/2.
|Philip Carey as Marlowe, outfitted with scar|
The Files of Jeffrey Jones (aka From the Files of Jeffrey Jones) only lasted for 16 episodes in 1952. I have seen one episode, "Pigeon Hunt," which has L.A. private investigator Jones (Don Haggerty) investigating when a boxer he knows tells him that he is afraid he might have murdered a woman while under the influence. Lyle Talbot plays his manager, and Alix Talton is a hard broad who is also involved in the case. Tristram Coffin plays a cop on the show. This episode was good enough to make me want to see more. There's a lively and amusing fight scene between Jones and a hulking bouncer in this one. **1/2.
|Don Haggarty and Patricia Morison|
|Lee Bowman as Ellery Queen|
Ellery Queen was a bit primitive, with that old organ music and all, but Hart and Bowman were both fine as variations of the character. Judging from the very few episodes I've seen, the show had some good scripts. In "The Hanging Acrobat" Kurt Katch makes an impression as the trapeze artist Hugo, whose wife is strangled. "Death Spins a Wheel," in which a piano player is murdered near a nightclub that may be a front for a counterfeiting racket, features another knock-put performance by Robert H. Harris as the club owner; this time he's affecting a very convincing accent. In "The Adventure of the Man Who Enjoyed Death," a mentally-disturbed district attorney, who lost a case due to Queen's testimony, gets even with him by playing a cat and mouse game in which he strangles a series of women. John Newland, best known as the host of One Step Beyond, is very good as the D.A. In "Buck Fever" Queen gets involved in murder and corruption when a deputy is shot while deer hunting and the detective is initially accused. "Murder to Music" features Jerome Cowan as a maestro whose crippled wife seems neurotic and dangerous to his protege, a pretty young pianist named Anita, but she may be up to something. Cowan is as terrific as ever but the show is stolen by the excellent actress who plays Anita, but whose identity I could not uncover although I tried several sources. ***.
Updated on 9/25/2018.