Hollywood & Crime
There are a number of soundcasts focused on criminal activity, be it murder (My Favorite Murder, All Killa, No Filla, and the celebrated first season of Serial), or a variety of nefarious schemes (Criminal, New York City Crime Report, and Crimetown.) Some have a comedic bent, while others are deadly serious.
The new series from Wondery, Hollywood & Crime, is definitely in the latter camp, but with an interesting twist on the presentation of the cases in question. You may have heard of the infamous Black Dahlia case, in which a young woman, Elizabeth Short, was found brutally murdered in post-WWII Los Angeles. It's the ultimate cold case that remains unsolved even today.
This series springboards off of that case and instead focuses on the more than a dozen other cases involving young women killed around the same time in and around Hollywood. Hosted by Tracy Pattin, a blogger and new media presence in LA, each installment looks at each of the various murder cases and begins to show how they are interconnected -- both the victims and the suspects -- but the hook here is in the novelty of the way the crimes, investigations and evidence (some of it new) is presented.
The crimes and what follows are brought to life with audio "re-creations" of the events. Many of the players' names are known, be they witnesses, police detectives or even the victims themselves, from police records and newspaper accounts of the period. Some of the dialog is taken from court records or newspaper interviews. And then it's all acted out in much the manner of a old radio play, with the voice of host Pattin serving to move us between elements of the story as she explains what it all seems to mean.
The first two episodes, Bathtub Murder and Generous Georgette, revolve around the death of Georgette Bauerdorf, the daughter of an oil magnate found floating facedown in her Sunset Strip apartment. But her nighttime hangout, the Hollywood Canteen, a sport where GIs got a chance to mingle and dance with young "hostesses" in the area, turns out to be the launching pad for more murder and mayhem, which leads into the third installment, White Gardenia, and the murder of another young woman.
Some of the audio play portions of the soundcast feel humorous, almost like we're watching the overly arch acting in a 40's motion picture (radio news reporters constantly pronounce the name of the city "Los An-ghel-eeze", for instance) but it lends a feeling of authenticity to the proceedings, almost as if we're somehow peering back in time to pick up on the bits and pieces of the clues and red herrings that have the police at the time running ragged trying to get to the bottom of the series of real life (or real death) murders.
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In addition to his weekly contributions to This Week In Comedy Podcasts for Splitsider.com, Marc Hershon is the host and executive producer of Succotash, The Comedy Soundcast Soundcast, featuring clips from comedy soundcasts (née podcasts) from across the Internet as well as interviews with podcasters, soundcasters, comedians, and assorted show biz folk.