Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Stanley Springs Matter, Scene 1
Johnny Dollar, Freelance Investigator
Johnny is a freelance investigator. He was known for padding his expense account — writing down costs a little higher than they really were, or just spending more than was really necessary and enjoying the good life. When we listen to these old dramas now, his prices sound mighty cheap, but really they weren’t. Most hard-boiled detectives had a strong sense of justice, and that was more important to them than a big pay off. Johnny wants to see justice done too, but he also sees his clients, insurance companies, as rich and able to afford his services.
Johnny hires himself out on contract assignments to insurance companies. He is usually working the insurance angle on a case — before paying an insurance claim, the company wants to make sure it is not being scammed, especially if the insurance was really high or if something looks suspicious.
Johnny works alone – he has no partner, not even a secretary to take down his notes (like other hard-boiled detectives had). Johnny fills out his own expense account, and when an airfare or cab fare is recorded, it serves to move us on to the next scene. Between scenes, Johnny often comments on the case, and we see people and events from his perspective.
Eight actors played the role of Johnny Dollar over the 12 years it was on the air (1949-1962). Edmond O’Brian, the actor in this story, was #2. He played the part like a typical hardboiled detective — streetwise and cynical. Because he is always meeting bad people in his line of business, he expects the worst. But he knows that not everyone is bad. It’s his job to be good at sizing people up so that he knows when to be guarded and when he has found someone he can trust.
In scene 1 of the Stanley Springs Matter, Johnny Dollar, freelance insurance investigator, is asked to look into a case that began with an anonymous tip – a short, unsigned letter had come to Financial Surety, an insurance company, about a company in which they had invested. Because Financial Surety had bought a lot of shares in that company, they had a say in how the company ran its business. The writer of the note accuses the company of behind the scenes illegal operations. He hopes that Financial Surety cares enough to do something about it. Johnny takes on the case. He needs to assess the situation to determine if the note is for real or if it is a prank. To do this, he’ll have to go undercover.
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It sounds like an interesting case. I wonder what kind of illegal shipment it is that the short letter referred to. This cotton gin is in the southwest of the United States, so when they talk about smuggling across the border, it is something coming in from Mexico. What do you suspect is getting smuggled in? This old-time radio play was broadcast in 1951, but is this kind of smuggling still a problem today? Make your guesses in the comments below.