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Danger on the Air

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Director  Otis Garrett
Cinematography  Stanley Cortez
Country  United States
6.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Crime, Drama, Mystery
Costume design  Vera West
Language  English
Danger on the Air movie poster
Writer  Betty Laidlaw, Robert Lively, Death Catches Up With Mr. Kluck
Release date  July 1, 1938 (1938-07-01)
Cast  Nan Grey (Christina 'Steenie' MacCorkle), Donald Woods (Benjamin Franklin Butts), Jed Prouty (Harry Jones, Radio Company Boss), Berton Churchill (Caesar Kluck), William Lundigan (Dave Chapman, Radio Announcer), Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher (Finney Fish, Ad Company Man)
Similar movies  The Florentine Dagger (1935)

Danger on the Air is a 1938 American crime film directed by Otis Garrett.


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Danger on the air 1938

Plot summary

Nan Grey, as Christina "Steenie" MacCorkle, a radio advertising executive, is suspected of murdering her client, Berton Churchill, as Caesar Kluck, a soda magnate.

Loathed by all who met him, or forced to work, with his underhanded business machinations, the victims, and suspects, start piling up. Including thug, Joe Downing, as Gangster Joe Carney; Lee J. Cobb as Tony Lisotti, trying to protect his daughter, Louise Stanley, as Maria Lisotti, from being another notch on Kluck's belt; and, Peter Lind Hayes, as Harry Lake, who is desperate to get on the air, seemingly at any cost.

It's up to radio engineer Donald Woods, as Benjamin Franklin Butts, and "Steenie's" brother, Frank Milan, as Alexander MacCorkle, to try to clear her, before the real murderer gets rid of another victim; unless, of course, it is one of them. Time is running out.

Differences from novel

The novel contains footnotes, which are intended to be both funny and informative, as well as further commentary on the nature and philosophy of radio and broadcasting, than there is time for the movie to encompass. The novel's author Xanthippe, was the pseudonym of Edith Meiser who wrote and produced extensively for radio. She is particularly known for her work on radio with the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.


  • Nan Grey as Christina "Steenie" MacCorkle
  • Donald Woods as Benjamin Franklin Butts
  • Jed Prouty as Harry Jones, Radio Company Boss
  • Berton Churchill as Caesar Kluck
  • William Lundigan as Dave Chapman, Radio Announcer
  • Richard "Skeets" Gallagher as Finney Fish, Ad Company Man
  • Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Leonard Sylvester, Charlatan
  • George Meeker as Tuttle, Undercover FCC Man
  • Frank Milan as Alexander MacCorkle
  • Lee J. Cobb as Tony Lisotti
  • Johnny Arthur as Aiken
  • Peter Lind Hayes as Harry Lake, Call Boy and Aspiring Performer
  • Louise Stanley as Maria Lisotti
  • Eloise Rawitzer as Miss Mildred Bello
  • Joe Downing as Gangster Joe Carney
  • Production

    In the late 1930s, Universal Pictures made a deal with Doubleday to use The Crime Club imprint for a series of 11 Crime Club mystery films. These films were released from 1937 to 1939, starting with The Westlake Case, as B movies. This was the fourth in the series.

    Danger on the Air was based on The Crime Club novel Death Catches Up with Mr. Kluck, by Xantippe (Garden City, NY, 1935).

    Xantippe, the name of Socrates' wife, in this case, was the pseudonym of writer, actress, and producer Edith Meiser. One reason that the book and film may ring so true with audiences, invoking the by-gone era of the Golden Age of radio, is that Edith Meiser herself was intimately involved with producing and writing for radio, as well as her work on television and Broadway.

    Specifically, she wrote radio plays based on the Sherlock Holmes stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, performed by the famous duo of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as his faithful comrade in arms and chronicler Doctor Watson. Her efforts were praised by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fans, who invested her as an honorary member of The Baker Street Irregulars.

    Nan Grey, as "the blonde horse" [which the name Xantippe means], may be playing a semi-biographical character, with Christina "Steenie" MacCorkle, a radio advertising executive, drawing on Edith Meiser's own personal experiences working with radio programs and sponsors; although, it's not known that she murdered any of them herself; perhaps, she would have liked to, at times.

    Peter Lind Hayes, famous as performer in his own right, as well as with his wife Mary Healy, and mother Grace Hayes, as Harry Lake, does imitations of Rudy Vallee, Walter Winchell, Ben Bernie and Bing Crosby, when performers and crew are afraid to return to the studio, because of the murder.


    Music by Charles Previn


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