The doctor is in and out: Old-time radio listening, 4 December

Lux Radio Theater: A Man to Remember (CBS, 1939)

Comedian Burns took the very occasional dramatic role . . . (Photo: NBC)

The slightly over-idealised 1938 film may prove to be remembered best for being Garson Kanin’s first full credit as a film director, and for a screenplay written by future Hollywood Ten figure Dalton Trumbo. But tonight it receives a radio adaptation that may keep the slight over-idealisations but manages to add a few touches of subtlety.

It also casts Bob Burns—making his reputation as a clever radio comedian—in a somewhat unusual dramatic role for him: Widowed Dr. John Abbott (Burns, in the Edward Ellis film role) spends his career practising in a small town where he often has to repel the astonishing greed of its residents—including and especially that of his own son. At times, the good doctor has to play their game no matter how worthwhile is the end, until even his son comes to see him as something other than the obstructionist light through which the town misunderstands and tries to obstruct him.

It sounds soapish, of course, but you may be pleasantly surprised by how the performers manage to overcome that flaw.

Jean: Anita Louise (in the Anne Shirley film role). Additional cast: Unidentified. Host/producer: Cecil B. DeMille. Music: Louis Silvers. Adapted from the screenplay by Dalton Trumbo.

 

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

Maxwell House Coffee Time Starring George Burns & Gracie Allen: Gracie Wants Bing Crosby to Retire (NBC, 1947)—Only Gracie (Allen) could consult a psychiatrist and conclude that getting Der Bingle to quit bingling is the way to settle George (Burns) and his nerves. Additional cast: Bill Goodwin, Gale Gordon, Hans Conreid, Bea Benaderet. Announcer: Toby Reed. Music: Meredith Willson and his Orchestra. Writers: Paul Henning, Sid Dorfman, William Burns, George Burns.

My Favourite Husband: Be Your Husband’s Best Friend (CBS, 1947)Fearing George (Richard Denning) would rather play poker than go out with her, Liz (Lucille Ball) listens to a women’s club speaker’s suggestion that she make herself her husband’s best friend—assuming, of course, that George doesn’t think that with friends like this, he doesn’t need enemies. Katie: Ruth Perrott. Iris: Bea Benaderet. Atterbury: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Probably Bob LaMond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Director: Jess Oppenheimer. Writers: Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll, Jr., Madelyn Pugh.

Our Miss Brooks: The Weighing Machine (CBS, 1949)—Connie (Eve Arden) isn’t the only one promised a tall, dark man entering her life, but the question before the house becomes whether a weighing machine’s fortune supercedes a tea-leaves reading—and a moony teenager who thinks the man’s entering her life. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Mr. Monet: Gerald Mohr. Conklin: Gale Gordon. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Announcer: Bob LaMond. Music: Wilbur Hatch. Writer/director: Al Lewis.

Crime Drama

The Whistler: Impulse (CBS, 1949)—Haunted by his plain life and almost regular disagreements about it with his frustrated wife (possibly Betty Lou Gerson), a Connecticut English professor (possibly Gerald Mohr) makes an impulsive decision to assume an old, medically retired friend’s identity—after the friend dies in a hotel fire, giving the professor the concurrent chance to head for Bermuda . . . and second-guess his decision, after falling in love with a comely stranger and discovering things about his deceased friend that make for a badly tangled web. Additional cast: Unidentified. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: George Allen. Writers: J. Donald Wilson, Joel Malone, Harold Swanton.

 

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