International Spy Series (1944 - 48, 1950
Sponsored by Frigidaire and later General Motors, this
spy series starred Herbert Marshall as Ken Thurston, Intelligence
Agent. Marshall, British by birth, starred in films with
many of the greatest, especially Detreich in Blonde Venus,
Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen, Vincent
Price in The Fly, and a great cast in The Razor's Edge,
where he portrayed W. Somerset Maugham. He played mainly
English professional types, as his style seemed naturally
cerebral and aloof.
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Thus he's perfectly suited to play a British operative
in The Man Called X. It's certainly tailored on Maugham's
book Ashenden, Or The British Agent, which was based
on Somerset Maugham's own work with British intelligence.
Of course, this kind of stuff lead directly to Bond, James
Bond, and certainly Ian Fleming admired The
Third Man, and perhaps The Man Called X.
Of course, Agent OO7 is still very much with us, but so
is The Man Called X. It's a fine show. The music
is excellent, as composed and conducted by Johnny Green.
Herbert Marshall, 1942
Jack Johnstone directs the production before a live audience,
which adds glamour to the proceedings, although suspense
purists might feel the secretive ambiance of tales of intrigue
isn't rogjt for an audience. Lux
Radio Theater didn't seem to suffer from that problem.
Fans of the spy game will certainly appreciate the dialogue,
with its world-weary and world-wary comments delivered by
Marshall with clipped certainty. The plots deal with smuggled
guns, explosives, drugs, art, radioactive material, murders,
kidnappings, rogue scientists, leaked secrets, sabotage,
secret documents, notorious politicians, corpses, wetbacks,
revolutionaries, foreign ports… even zombies! Except
for the zombies, the entire list seems to be ripped from
Leon Belasco is Thurston's "sidekick" Pagon,
a young and often timorous assistant who serves a variety
of tasks. Fine Hollywood-based radio actors such as Cathy
Lewis, Peter Leeds, Lawrence Dobkin, and William Conrad (Escape, Gunsmoke)
fill out a constantly shifting cast of shady characters.
For more spies and undercover types, you can also see The
Silent Men, Spy Catcher,
Cloak and Dagger, Counterspy
- David Harding!, Dangerous
Assignment, The Adventures
of Frank Race, Top Secret,
Harry Lime (The
Agent K7 Returns, and I
Was a Communist for the FBI. Of course, there are
many spy adventures to be found among the Escape
episodes, and many private investigators are available.
To follow up on them, you can start with the classic Sam
Spade and follow the clues at the end of the introduction.