Friday, February 11, 2011
Richard Diamond, Private Detective.....Best OTR Private Eye?
Johnny Dollar is at his best near the end of the series in the five-part, 15-minute episodes which star Bob Bailey. Marlowe is way too serious. Spade never makes a lick of sense--the shows are completely incoherent. But Richard Diamond has good stories and makes you laugh. You can't beat it.
Of course, nothing is perfect. Diamond suffers from the same flaw that other private eye dramas of the time share, in that the private eye is always smarter than the cops in such an unrealistic way that it's insulting. Then there is how they describe the discovery of a dead body:
"We found him in the alley. He's been shot, stabbed, clubbed over the head, and poisoned. He's dead."
Cue the dramatic music.
At the end of each episode, Diamond visits his girlfriend. They chat a bit and then he sings a song. I guess Powell was known for his singing at the time, but during his adventures he gets shot at, kicked, and knocked unconscious. Are we really expected to believe that after all of that punishment, he can sing like nothing happened?
Oh, well. It's good clean fun.
I don't dislike the other shows I mentioned, but they lack the community that Diamond has. Richard Diamond feels real because he has friends. Marlowe? Isolated. Lives in a bubble. Spade and Dollar? They mostly mix with clients and thugs and we never see their personal lives. Diamond has the right balance of everything.
Give him a listen if you haven't had the opportunity. Dick Powell is perfect in the role; he even played Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, which is one of the great post-war noir films. And if you want another Dick Powell detective show that's just as good as Richard Diamond, check out Rogue's Gallery. But that's a subject for another time.