Rocky Goes East
by Stewart Wright. © 2015
(From Radio Recall, Issue Date)
Many Old-Time Radio fans are familiar with one of the most popular series ever to run on the CBS West Coast Radio Network: the adventure series Rocky Jordan which started in 1945 on that regional network as A Man Named Jordan. Both of these series were more than loosely based on the classic Humphrey Bogart motion picture: Casablanca. Jack Moyles played Rocky Jordan from 1945-50 and 1952-53. In an ill-advised attempt to supply the series with "Star Power" for a summer, 1951 run on the entire CBS network George Raft was brought in to play Jordan. Moyles' portrayal of Jordan is usually considered superior to that of Raft's.
Most of these same fans are probably not aware of a series that could trace its roots to Rocky Jordan; that series was O'Hara. It's not surprising as only two O'Hara broadcasts are in circulation ; one each from the April through September, 1951 twenty-six episode CBS West Coast run and from the 1956 run of an unaired audition show and 12 broadcasts over the entire CBS network. Jack Moyles starred as O'Hara in all but the last five episodes which were aired in October, 1956.
O'Hara and the Jordan series were of the so-called "amateur detective" or "unlicensed private investigator" variety. It was a common way of putting a different and fresh twist on the basic private detective theme, a favorite radio genre. Each main character had a stated, non-investigative occupation : Jordan was a cafe owner and O'Hara was an international correspondent. However, they were primarily involved with solving mysteries and crimes. Both O'Hara and Jordan pass the Raymond Chandler test: "trouble" was definitely their "real" business.
There were other similarities between the series and their title characters. Both O'Hara and Jordan acted as the narrator for their respective 5 series. Like Rocky Jordan, O'Hara was an American earning his living in an exotic overseas locale: O'Hara's Hong Kong was substituted for Jordan's Cairo. The episode story lines for both series often dealt with international intrigue and were frequently filled with colorful characters. In fact, the first two episodes of the 1951 run of O'Hara, "Kowloon Hijack" and "The Marked Man" were reused scripts that had been initially aired in 1949 as "The Big Heist" and "The De Marco Affair" respectively on Rocky Jordan. (These scripts would be reused again under their 1949 titles when Rocky Jordan returned to the CBS West Coast air waves in 1952-53.)
Also, both lead characters had a sometimes tenuous, but respectful relationship with local senior police officials. In Jordan's case, it was with Captain Sam Saabya of the Cairo Police. In O'Hara's, it was with Commissioner Sydney Phelps of the Hong Kong Constabulary. These senior policeman were not the incompetent stereotypes that populated many crime series; they were sharp, insightful professionals. The private conversations between the title characters and these senior law enforcement agents was one of each series' strongest features; these conversations drew the audience into the world of the main characters. Several episodes of O'Hara end with the correspondent having Tea with Commissioner Phelps. Likewise, more than a few episodes of Rocky Jordan ended with Rocky having Egyptian Coffee with Captain Saabya. The characters usually conversed about various aspects of the episode's case and life in general.
The theme music for O'Hara used to help set a Far Eastern mood came from another Humphrey Bogart adventure movie. It was an instrumental version of the song "Hong Kong Blues" by Hoagy Carmichael from the popular 1944 motion picture "To Have and Have Not."
Want to learn more about O'Hara? A broadcast log containing much more information on the series is available at: www.old-time.com/otrlogs2/index.html. An extensive broadcast log on Rocky Jordan by this author will be found at the same website after April 30, 2015.
To learn more about journalism-based Old Time Radio series visit MWOTRC member Bob Stepno's website, Newspaper Heroes on the Air at: //jheroes.com/
"ROCKY JORDAN 1948-55 Broadcast Log" - A project that I started in 2002 is now completed: The log is Adobe Acrobat PDF format and can be found at www.old-time.com/otrlogs2/index.html and
This 1948-1955 ROCKY JORDAN Broadcast Log contains much new information on the series particularly about 1952-53 run which until now has been very poorly documented.
The Broadcast Log starts with summary information on:
Number of Broadcast
My broadcast log includes sections on:
Accessing Primary Sources: An Expensive Proposition
Information Entry and Evaluation
Broadcast Log Updates
Newspaper Radio Programming Listings Can Cause Confusion
SERIES BACKGROUND & DESCRIPTION
EPISODE OPENINGS AND CLOSINGS
AN ABORTED REVIVAL
PROPOSED JUMP TO THE SMALL SCREEN
CAST AND CREW
Cast Series Leads
REUSE OF SCRIPTS
INCORRECTLY DATED AFRTS MP3 FILES
SIDE BAR 6
The AFRTS Pgm 7 "The Nile Runs High" Mystery Solved; An Exercise in Investigative Old-Time Radio Research
Titles Broadcast Dates,
Air Times and Episode Episodes in Circulation
Scripts and Other Related Documentation
Newspapers and Periodicals
You can find all nineteen of my broadcast logs at: //old-time.com/otrlogs2/index.html.