Murder at the dance: Old-time radio listening, 13 January

Suspense: Dime-a-Dance (CBS, 1944)

Cornell Woolrich had an apparent thing for setting crime dramas in or around dance halls. Suspense sometimes had a little too much of a taste for bringing those to radio. Put the better of the stories and the interpretations together, however, and you get a performance such as tonight’s:

Police ask a slightly jaded New York taxi dancer (Lucille Ball) to help them solve the murder of her friend and colleague, never mind how reluctant she seems at first to join the effort. I’ll leave it to you entirely to decide which is better, this being one of Woolrich’s better stories becoming one of the better radio adaptations overall, or Lucille Ball’s surprisingly effective performance in a genre with which she isn’t exactly identified as well as she is with comedy.

Additional cast: Hans Conreid, Patrick McGeehan, Jeannette Nolan, Ian Wolfe. The Man in Black: Joseph Kearns. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writer: Unidentified.

FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

Fibber McGee & Molly: Who Broke Uppy’s Window (NBC, 1942)—There’s a good reason why the Sap of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) is pounding the coffee more than usual: his nightmare, in which he rose, dressed, and heaved a stone through wealthy Mrs. Uppington’s (Amanda Randolph) window, turns out to be half true: the window-smashing did happen, it hit page one of the local paper in the bargain, the Old-Timer (Bill Thompson, who also plays Mr. Wimpole) returns one of Fibber’s gloves—which he claims to have fond near the Uppington mansion . . . and Mrs. Uppington herself wants Fibber (“What would Basil Rathbone do if he had a case like this?”) to help her find the culprit. First of two parts. Molly: Marian Jordan. Officer Brink: Possibly Frank Nelson. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

The Fred Allen Show: Carmen (NBC; AFRS Rebroadcast, 1946)—Guest Maurice Evans joins in to roast Bizet’s venerable opera after Fred (Allen) recalls a ticklish incident when catching Evans in Hamlet the previous week; meanwhile, Fred and Portland discuss the concurrent “I Can’t Stand Jack Benny Because” contest, and the Alley demimonde (Kenny Delmar, Parker Fennelly, Minerva Pious, Alan Reed) tackle how working women are likely to fare in the postwar as opposed to the wartime world. (“There’s one thing—Ah say, there’s only one thing a woman can never become—the father of our country!”) Announcer: Kenny Delmar. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, possibly Larry Marks, possibly Robert Schiller.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Invents the Cartable Radio (NBC, 1948)—Based on a slightly wild dream, the Somnambulist of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) hits a war surplus store itching to turn a an old Army two-way radio into a radio that can be installed in the car or removed for portable use—if only he can get the basic works to pick up something more than police band traffic, that is. Wimpole/The Old-Time: Bill Thompson. Foggy Williams: Gale Gordon. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.

The Halls of Ivy: The Student Editorial (NBC, 1950)—Wellman (Herb Butterfield) demands Hall (Ronald Colman) expel the student editor he thinks wrote a blistering campus newspaper editorial criticising recent board actions, but Hall is uncomfortable enough with the demand even before he meets the young man (Roland Morris), who’s a decorated war veteran in the bargain—and reveals the original author of that editorial four decades earlier. Vicki: Benita Hume Colman. Penny: Gloria Gordon. Announcer: Ken Carpenter. Music: Henry Russell. Director: Nat Wolfe. Writer: Walter Brown Newman.

My Friend Irma: The Cub Scout Speech (CBS, 1952)—As only the last of the classic radio dingbats can, den mother Irma (Marie Wilson) is writing one to deliver to her Cub Scouts for their monthly museum trip, which may make the speech seem in comparison like “Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies.” Jane: Cathy Lewis. Professor: Hans Conreid. Mrs. O’Reilly: Gloria Gordon. Al: John Brown. Mr. Clyde: Alan Reed. Announcer: Carl Caruso. Music: Lud Gluskin. Director: Parke Levy. Writers: Parke Levy, Stanley Adams.

Drama/Dramatic Anthology

Lux Radio Theater: Libel (CBS, 1941)—Ronald Colman spearheads a tasteful adaptation of the Broadway play, as World War I veteran Sir Mark Loddon, a television host who sues the press over a fellow former prisoner of war (Alec Hofford) regarding the latter’s accusation that he killed a third fellow POW and assumed his identity as a nobleman—an accusation made public after Loddon refuses him a sizeable loan—until Loddon’s haunting by an old wartime incident stirs doubt even in his own wife (Frances Robinson). Sir Wilfred: Vernon Steele. Doctor: Jeff Corey. Judge: Eric Snowden. Associate: Jack Lewis. Waitress: Noreen Gamille. Miles: Lou Merrill. Announcer: Mel Gilrich. Host/producer: Cecil B. DeMille. Music: Louis Silvers. Adapted from the play by Edward Wooll.

Western

Gunsmoke: Ozymandias (CBS; AFRTS Rebroadcast, 1957)—Rancher Burke Krager wants to get squatter Slope Carson off a patch of his wide land spread that he doesn’t really need but wants in his longtime bid to control the majority of the valley lands, but Krager’s biggest obstacle yet may prove to be the son he bullied for too many years. Matt: William Conrad. Chester: Parley Baer. Doc: Howard McNear. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Additional cast: Unknown, but probably including Harry Bartell, John Dehner. Announcers: George Walsh, Marvin Miller. Music: Rex Khoury. Sound: Ray Kemper, Bill James. Director: Norman Macdonnell. Writer: John Meston.

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