Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons - Single Episodes
MR. KEEN, TRACER OF LOST PERSONSWhen Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons first debuted over the Blue Network on October 12, 1937, the show’s title accurately described Keen’s stock-in-trade; the “kindly old investigator” tracked down individuals who had mysteriously vanished, leaving behind their families, homes, jobs and other day-to-day activities. Keen (he never had a first name, unless it was “Peachy”) was assisted in these duties by an Irishman named Mike Clancy. Mike wasn’t much of a brainiac (the quote that comprises the title of this post was a semi-catchphrase that he seemed to use on the show every week) but he could use the necessary brawn when the situation called for it. Bennett Kilpack played kindly ol' Keen throughout most of the program’s run, as well as Philip Clarke and Arthur Hughes, while Jim Kelly took the role of Clancy. The series originally aired as a thrice-weekly fifteen-minute serial from 1937-43 (the show moved to CBS in 1942), providing more than ample time for Keen to solve even the most baffling of disappearances. Beginning November 11, 1943, the program changed its format to that of a half-hour weekly offering—and though the title and theme song remained, Keen branched out into investigating murders. If Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons sounds a little soap opera-ish, it’s because it originated from the “radio fiction factory” of Frank and Anne Hummert. (Frank received on-air credit for the writing, but the scripts were actually churned out by scribes like Lawrence Klee, Bob Shaw, Barbara Bates and Stedman Coles.) Mr. Keen“ employed all the stereotypes, heavy dialogue, and trite plotting of its daytime cousins” and “it appealed to a lowest common denominator.” So why is the show so popular with old-time radio fans today? Simple…it’s pretty doggone funny, in an unintentional sort of way. Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons enjoyed a healthy eighteen-year stint over radio, ending its run not—as previously reported on this blog—on April 19, 1955 but on September 26 of that same year. Over the years, the series had a variety of sponsors: Bisodol, Kolynos toothpaste, Chesterfield cigarettes, American Chicle, etc., and there are nearly sixty broadcasts extant today for modern-day listeners to revel in. It’s ample evidence that not every show during the Golden Age of Radio was “golden”—but I gotta admit, it sure is fun.
NOTE: Updated from Version 4.1 MP3s (25-Feb-2011).From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.
Mr. Keen wasn't too bright
Mr. Keen was an soap opera that armchair detectives could enjoy. A murder would take place before the first commercial break, to catch the listener's attention. Then Mr. Keen would enter the case, interrogating the suspects until the final scene, when they were gathered together in the same room. He would then trick the murderer into confessing in a Charlie Chan like denouement. The program was written by the soap opera writing team of Frank and Anne Hummert who obviously felt that their audience were not too "keen" because the characters' names were repeated every few seconds to make sure that you understand who was talking or being spoken to. This particular plot device was not apparent in any other soap opera written by the Hummetts or any other writer, which made "Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons," a mystery show for "dumb down" armchair detectives. The comedy team of Bob and Ray did a famous parody called "Mr. Tracer, Keener Than Most Persons."
Mr. Keen is Nice
Mr. Keen is nice. But the shows have hum on them. That can be attenuated. But it is a bit annoying. Mr. Keen is funny. He will announce the sfx cues, like "Let's knock on the door, Mike." Then the door knock follows. :) Cute.
Not what I thought
I liked this show more than I thought I would. It is a little soap opera-ish but it holds your intrest. Very funny when he searches people's houses and other illegle stuff like that. Couldnt do that today.
The celebrated old investigator and his partner would be jailed for breaking and entering nowadays. :) In these shows they often just go in and look through people's homes and offices without a search warrant.
Mr. Trace, Keener Than Most Persons
For those interested in the parody mentioned by justaskmike it can be found as episode 127 here: http://archive.org/details/BobRay--bobRayPresentTheCbsRadioNetwork1959-60
The Revengful Ghost should be correctly dated 55-02-22.