1948-02-05 Music to Die By

Music to Die By is one of those Casey scripts that starts well but the ending suffers from some sloppy direction and an implausible solution to the crime. It has to be near the bottom of the list of Casey episodes. For some of these below average episodes, I just listen because I love hearing the cast and the way they work together. This is definitely one of those.

ADC continuity notes...
Howard Clinton is madly in love with a young lady who lives in the apartment above him. Howard's wife is in love with the apartment superintendent John Felix. Betty (the girl in the apartment upstairs) is found dead in her apartment and Howard is found beside her unconscious as a result of a blow on the head. John Felix, the supt., makes the discovery. Casey responds to the murder report and at first his suspicions are directed at Howard's wife, Ada; but he soon learns that the apartment house contains other wives who were jealous of Betty - and men other than Howard who may have killed the girl rather than share her with somebody else.

It's helpful to keep this information in mind during the story:
4th floor - Howard and Ada Clinton, apartment 4B
4th floor - Mrs. Bloomington; her husband is disabled, likely 4A, but the number doesn't matter; the fact that the apartments are directly across from each other does matter
5th floor - Betty Welch; this floor has only one apartment, so we know it is a small building. We can surmise it is a walk-up with no elevator.

1:53 Yes, that's "Raymond, Your Host" of Inner Sanctum fame playing Howard Clinton.

3:34 Howard is asked to call the superintendent to fix the radiator, which he does. He's going out to the bar, and Mrs. Bloomington comes over to stay with Mrs. Clinton while he is out. She asks that the door to 4B stay open because she has left hers open, too, in case her husband calls her.

5:37 Howard escapes detection and goes up to Betty's apartment, where he was obviously a regular visitor. "Too Fat Polka" is playing in the background. Loud music coming from Betty's apartment is key to the storyline.

6:13 Howard looks at the ash tray and realizes another man has probably been there because there is the last of a cigar in it. They start romantically dancing but end up talking about the man. She mentions that she likes him because he is eligible to marry. This must make Howard jealous.

8:00 The super, John Felix, goes into the apartment to deal with the annoying loud music. He finds the bodies of Betty and Howard. The scream of the Mrs. Clinton is quite impressive, probably startling many listeners to the program who might have been dozing off or otherwise occupied.

8:26 Logan says it's a murder-suicide, with Betty murdered, but Howard attempting to kill himself but failing to do so. As listeners, we know it never the way Logan says it is. Howard used a German Luger. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luger_pistol The fact that it's a Luger really doesn't play into the story other than to make it certain that it was Clinton's gun, and only his gun. The gun had no fingerprints, and under questioning by the police, Howard denied shooting Betty. Her apartment was the only one on that floor, and there was no fire escape, and there was no way a killer could go through the fourth floor because the Bloomington and Clinton apartments were open and they would have seen or heard someone. This is the point where it is obvious that there is no elevator in this building, and the apartment building is small.

11:35 Ethelbert tells Walter to take care of the customers at the end of the counter... no dialogue from Walter this episode.

12:18 For someone who's always saying that he doesn't understand women, Casey's on a rant this episode about how he does. He says after seeing Mrs. Clinton, he didn't blame Howard for visiting Betty. He says that "looks aren't what count after you marry them" and that he doesn't trust Mrs. Clinton, implying that no matter how attractive she looked, that trust was far more important a personal attribute. Ann is a bit annoyed at his nuanced attempt to escape his statement. He says that press photographers see "women at your best and your worst" and she says that's why he's still a bachelor. Ethelbert doesn't help himself with his comments, either. A big win for Ms. Williams.

15:05 Casey and Ann visit Mrs. Bloomington. She says that this is the first time Mrs. Clinton has asked for someone to sit with her while Mr. Clinton was out. She said that Felix, the super, came into the Clinton to replace a valve in the Clinton's kitchen at about 9:15pm. Casey starts getting suspicious. We later learn that keeping Mrs. Clinton company was part of the conspiracy to set up an alibi for her and for Felix.

17:27 Casey has figured out the crime. Felix placed the ladder he brought for the repair on an outside window box. This let him climb up to the fifth floor, shoot Betty and Howard with the Luger that Ada gave him, and then sneak back down to finish "the repair" without detection. The sound of the gunfire was muffled by the loud music. He would leave the Luger in the apartment to make it look like murder-suicide. This means that Felix' discovery of the bodies was just a cover-up of his own nefarious handiwork. Casey realizes part of the motive was a $10,000 veterans life insurance policy ($120,000 in 2020 dollars) that Howard had with Ada as beneficiary. (Just a side note: there were many WW2 servicemen who came back from Germany with Lugers and other souvenirs of their service; I was told it was not technically allowed, but it was common but not rampant).

19:45 Casey breaks the news to Ada that if Howard is executed for a crime, the beneficiary will not get the insurance proceeds. Casey had told Logan of his plan to speak with Ada, so the police bugged Ada's apartment to listen in to Casey's discussion and what they hoped would be the next visitor to Ada to hear details of the conspiracy.

21:25 Ada's love interest, Felix, rings the bell and goes into the apartment. She tries to trick him into signing a "love letter"... but she had already prepared it as a confession to the murder and a suicide note!

23:48 Felix was pushed out a window she told him needed fixing. It is odd that no one among Casey or Ann or Logan says “call the medics” or ordering one of the police to get downstairs to keep a crowd away from the body or something like that. They just meet in Ada's apartment as she fails to explain away her crime. Logan says "I believe a man just fell out of your window" like he was saying "I'll have a toasted bagel and a coffee." The only explanation is that the building was surrounded by police as part of the plan to arrest her, so they knew it was taken care of. But it seems like directorial malpractice on the part of Dietz, too emotionless to be believable. Felix falling out the window was set up early in the episode by Logan saying that the building had no fire escape. This meant that the windows were not protected by a grille, usually wrought iron, common for apartments then, to deter intruders.

26:47 At the Blue Note, Casey explains that Felix was so smitten with Ada that he had taken out insurance with her as beneficiary, at her urging, of course. Ada figured that if she couldn't get the insurance from Howard's death she'd get the death benefit from Felix. And, she'd still be married to Howard, freed from prison. Is this another plot hole? At that time, insurance policies did not typically cover deaths by suicide as it was believed they were most likely attempts to defraud the insurance company and there was not yet an understanding of suicide as originating from a person's mental illness or impairment at the time. Most of the story seemed plausible, but then we heard the details, and the ending was just plain sloppy.

RadioGoldindex lists Raymond Edward Johnson in the cast, but his appearance is not cited in the closing credits.

It's mentioned that "Casey" has some pictures in a “Photography on Parade” exhibit at Rockefeller Center. This is yet another reference that hints the show's locale is New York City. The event was also a showcase for new cameras and other photographic technologies. No one was taking pictures at the exhibition on their smartphones and texting them to their friends 72 years ago. Having worked in an industry that relied on photographic images, it is stunning, in comparison, what the technology makes possible today.

This script would be performed again on 1950-08-10 under the Philip Morris sponsorship as The Love Death. Cole would change names and story elements, such as the music being played in this case. The end of Liebestod was often used as background for stories of doomed lovers. We can't be sure what part of the Wagner opera was played. It may have been selected for a sinister association for Wagner's music being associated with WW2 Germany. It is interesting how Cole could use the music selection to cast a different mood for the same script: "Too Fat Polka" and Liebestod are obviously quite different. Some listeners may have not known they just heard the same story two years prior but may have had a sense of deja vu that they could not specify. His notes...
A recording of "Die Liebestod" can be heard coming from the apartment of Netta Wayman -- the music continues until long past midnight until finally the superintendent investigates and finds Netta dead on the floor. The police are called... Casey and Ann follow along... Casey does some checking on his own and learns of an affair between Netta and the husband of Enid Frasner -- he learns of Enid's visit to Netta's apartment in an attempt to break up the association -- and the visit of a neighbor to Netta's to the apartment after Netta had been knocked out and believed killed by Enid during an argument between the two of them concerning Enid's friendship with the girl. Casey investigates all circumstances of the murder and finally comes up with the real killer.

Casey 48-02-05 223 Music to Die By UPGRADE.mp3
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1948-02-05 Mason City IA Globe-Gazette
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