Philo Vance, America’s most popular fictional detective of the 1920s and 1930s, moved from S. S. Van Dine’s novels onto the silver screen and later radio. The aristocratic amateur sleuth was portrayed in more than 100 radio broadcasts by Jackson Beck.
Philo Vance was the detective creation of S. S. Van Dine first published in the mid 1920s. Vance, in the original books, is an intellectual so highly refined he seems he might be ghostwritten by P. G. Wodehouse. Take this quote from The Benson Murder Case, 1924, as Vance pontificates in his inimitable way: “That’s your fundamental error, don’t y’ know. Every crime is witnessed by outsiders, just as is every work of art. The fact that no one sees the criminal, or the artist, actually at work, is wholly inconsequential.” Thankfully, the radio series uses only the name, and makes Philo a pretty normal, though very intelligent and extremely courteous gumshoe.