Nothing cooked but his goose: Old-time radio listening, 19 September

Fibber McGee & Molly: Chicken Barbeque (Season premiere; NBC, 1950)

Back from vacation with a barbe-skew . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Still very much at the top of their game, the First Couple of Wistful Vista returns home from vacation with a new sponsor (Pet Milk) and typical Fibberian folderol.

McGee (Jim Jordan) wants to barbeque some chicken. Molly (Marian Jordan) would rather he let her fry or bake it. Doc (Arthur Q. Bryan) revels in being asked to sit on the council and quakes over learning McGee’s doing the barbequing. A hardware store proprietor (also Bryan) spends more time trying to weasel his way into a barbeque invitation and cracking weak jokes than tending their needs for the big cookout. La Trivia (Gale Gordon) walks right into a rhetorical trap about his working day and his Hawaiian vacation parallel to the McGees’. McGee burns his draft card (relax—it was his World War I card) but can barely keep the barbeque fire aflame. The Old-Timer (Bill Thompson) claims his grandma invented the barbeque. And McGee drowns his sorrow rather literally, almost, when his chicken isn’t quite cooked but his goose just might be.

In other words, it’s just another typical homecoming to another typical day at 79 Wistful Vista. If you don’t count the fact that there’s nothing quite typical about the way this lot does radio, and has done it for fifteen years and counting.

Ole Swenson: Richard LeGrand. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Director: Max Hutto. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.




The Great Gildersleeve: Preparing for Leila’s Return (NBC, 1943)—Freshly home from an evening with the symphony and Eve Goodwin, and not necessarily in that order, Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) discovers keeping culture in his home has stiff competition from Leroy’s (Walter Tetley) sudden obsession with boogie piano playing, Marjorie’s (Lurene Tuttle) concurrent obsession with Frank Sinatra and a new boyfriend . . . and Gildy’s own unexpected longing for the woman (Shirley Mitchell) who broke his heart by jilting him at the altar when her late husband turned out to be very much alive. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: Claude Sweetin. Director: Frank Pittman. Writers: John Whedon, Sam Moore.

Our Miss Brooks: Weekend at Crystal Lake (CBS; AFRS Rebroadcast, 1949)—In a classic installment, Connie (Eve Arden)—relieved to discover Boynton (Jeff Chandler) has chosen her over a society girl with whom he enjoyed a brief flirtation—is surprised and pleased to receive an invitation from the Conklins (Gale Gordon, Paula Winslowe) to spend a weekend at their Crystal Lake retreat . . . with Boynton in tow, but with nearly everyone else around her thinking he’s out to re-create An American Tragedy . . . planning, in Conklin’s inimitable words, to “bash her over the skull and us[e] her as bass bait.” Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Unknown. Music: Lud Gluskin. Writer/director: Al Lewis.


Drama/Dramatic Anthology

Columbia Workshop: Hamlet (Part One; CBS,1936)—Having hit stride early, the landmark dramatic anthology gets a Shakespearean adrenaline shot from the rising Orson Welles, and radio gets an early taste of drama without overacted under-atmosphere, in this adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy of the Danish prince (Welles) whose hesitant revenge on his murderous uncle takes a few deadly detours—including his apparent love for the daughter of his uncle’s chief advisor—through moral confusion and to grave consequences. You may notice a hole or three, but the presentation is seamless enough to make the loss fleeting enough. King: Alexander Scourby. Queen: Rosalind Pinchot. Polonius: Edgerdin Paul. Horatio: Sidney Smith. Ghost: George Gaulle. Bernardo: Harold Sherman. Announcer: John Reed King. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Sound: Irving Reis. Writer/director: Orson Welles.


World War II

World News Today: The Nazis Leave Sardinia; the Gilberts are Under Assault (CBS, 1943)—The lead: the Nazis begin evacuating Sardinia as the U.S. Fifth Army continues its successes, the Allies hit heavily upon Japanese targets in the Gilberts.

Analyses: The Fifth Army weakens Nazi resistance, especially as they meet the Eighth Army off the Salerno beachheads and await reinforcements, and especially as the Luftwaffe seems to have withdrawn any substantial presence; Prime Minister Churchill returns to London to open Parliament following a visit to Italy after Mussolini’s fall, and facing a likely home front problem involving British industrial strikes; fighters and bombers cluster over the Mediterranean, resulting in serious Luftwaffe losses; the entire German front near Russia weakens as there emerges a new Russian pushback drive in Smolensk; more details on the Pacific Fleet’s operations against the Gilberts, including heavy Navy air raids over and against Tarawa, and more new naval medical facilities to handle treatment of wounded sailors and aviators; troops land against the Japanese strongholds on Nassau Beach in the Cook Islands; and, an American ambassador leaves Moscow for Washington, possibly for personal reasons, while laying groundwork for a major Allied summit, while speculation falls on Gen. George Catlett Marshall appointed to a key European-based command.

Correspondents: Winston Burdett in Rome; Charles Collingwood in London; James Fleming in Cairo; Maj. George Fielding Eliot in Washington; Webley Edwards in Honolulu; Larry Meyer in New York; Robert Lewis in Washington. Anchor: Douglas Edwards. Announcer: Warren Sweeney.

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