Monday, September 12, 2016

"This, Too, Was Worthy of the Melodramatic Ingenuity of a Blood-and-Thunder Playwright"

ARCH OBOLER was a show biz legend, involving himself in all aspects of the business, including Broadway, the movies, and TV—but it was in radio where he made his reputation. Wikipedia (HERE) tells us:
He generated much attention with his radio scripts, particularly the horror series Lights Out, and his work in radio remains the outstanding period of his career. Praised as one of broadcasting's top talents, he is regarded today as a key inno-vator of radio drama. Oboler's personality and ego were larger than life. Radio historian John Dunning wrote, 'Few people were ambivalent when it came to Arch Oboler. He was one of those intense personalities who are liked and disliked with equal fire.'"
Since Oboler was so versatile, we weren't too surprised to come across some of his short stories with criminous angles (although he must have dropped the "Archie" from his byline relatively early). Here's the FictionMags list of his pulp stories, some of which, to judge from the titles and venues, are clearly crime fiction:

~ "A Chap Named Paul," Breezy Stories, October 1927
~ "Gangster Hate," Racketeer Stories, October 1930
~ "Boomerang Bullets," Top-Notch Magazine, December #1, 1930
~ "The Death in Death," The Popular Magazine, December #2, 1930
~ "Squad Car," The Popular Magazine, September 1931
~ "Mr. Minkle Is Vigilant," Nickel Detective, January 1933
~ "Lead Curtains," Greater Gangster Stories, February 1933
~ "A Long Rope," Ten Detective Aces, April 1933 (see below)
~ "Miss Information," Snappy, August 1933
~ "The Murder Game," Nickel Detective, August 1933 (see below)
~ "Murder Below," Dime Mystery Magazine, March 1934
~ "Collegiate Knuckles," The All-America Sports Magazine, August 1934
~ "The Night of Ka-Sam," Dr. Yen Sin, May-June 1936
~ "Burnt!" Zippy, November 1938
~ "The Ugliest Man in the World," The Saint’s Choice No. 7, 1946 (1943 radioplay online HERE)
~ "Come to the Bank," Weird Tales, Fall 1984 (1942 radioplay online HERE).

"A Long Rope."
By Archie Oboler (1909-87).
First appearance: Ten Detective Aces, April 1933.
Short short short story (3 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE.
"The woman’s free hand was in the right pocket of the coat of her tailored suit; suddenly it came out with a small automatic in it."
When it comes to faking a jewel robbery, two can play at that game . . . And speaking of games . . .
~ ~ ~
"The Murder Game."
By Archie Oboler (1909-87).
First appearance: Nickel Detective, August 1933.
Short short story (6 pages).
Online at Pulpgen HERE.
"To us crime is a game, pure and simple. It is the thrill of matching our wits against mankind that interests us, not a desire for additional wealth. We know no right, no wrong, no laws, no sentimentality. Since our brains are keener than society, we take what we want and answer to no man."
Three bullets, a bell, and one hour to live: for private eye Lee Andre crawling around blindly in the dark, it looks like the big sleep—until he sees the light . . .

Resources:
- For more about Arch Oboler go to Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film (HERE); you can find Lights Out episodes on MP3 (HERE).
- We previously encountered a Lights Out episode (HERE), but we aren't sure if Oboler had any involvement with it.

The bottom line: "It seems to me that you and I were made for each other. I am your best friend’s best friend and we both have a taste for stealing other people's jewellery."
P.G.W.

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