Half a war winds down: Old-time radio listening, 3-4 May

Montgomery would read the world the Elbe surrender terms . . . (Photo: BBC)

Montgomery would read the world the Elbe surrender terms . . . (Photo: BBC)

And now, as a future rock and roll classic would say, “The future’s uncertain/but the end is always clear,” as the war in Europe and what remains of the Third Reich knock on the end’s door . . .



3 May

W.V. Thomas: On the Wehrmacht Surrender in Lauenberg (BBC, 1945)—The BBC correspondent has a brief but telling report of the Wehrmacht‘s formal surrender, three days after Hitler’s death and offering yet another profound sign that what’s left of the Third Reich and the war in Europe is about to pass into history. Four days later, the rump government of Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz will finish what it really began, Doenitz’s early proclamation notwithstanding, and surrender.

4 May

Awaiting Surrender (BBC, 1945)—Chester Wilmot reports from the headquarters of British Field Marshal, Gen. Bernard Montgomery as Britain and the Allies await the formal surrender of the Nazi forces who stood unsuccessfully against the British near the Elbe.

Surrender Terms (BBC, 1945)—Not long afterward, Montgomery himself reads those very surrender terms over the BBC airwaves.

Germany Calling: Mock Broadcast (BBC, 1945)—The actual and infamous Nazi propaganda broadcast aired for the final time at April’s end, when its Hamburg base was overrun by British forces. Which doesn’t stop the triumphant British from sticking one final needle in.

It only begins with a leadoff jab at Germany Calling‘s star broadcaster, American-born William Joyce, the fourth and most notorious of those broadcasting under the name Lord Haw Haw, who’s been arrested and repatriated to England, where he can be tried thanks to his having carried a British passport when he began his propaganda broadcasts.

Commentator W.V. Thomas also delivers a little news in between the spankings of Lord Haw Haw, but that of course isn’t exactly why the broadcasts are clung to by listeners and will be clung to by future old-time radio collectors.




4 May

Fibber McGee & Company: The Haircut (NBC, 1936)—The Shaggy Dog of 79 Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) needs his spring haircut, but he doesn’t necessarily need the barber’s (Harold Peary) attempts at comedy at his hair’s expense. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra. Writer: Don Quinn.

The Great Gildersleeve: Mystery Girl on the Bus (NBC, 1949)—Still reveling in his unlikely capture of a jewel thief, amateur detective Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) flirts with a beautiful woman on the crosstown bus but thinks he’ll never see her again, until she calls him nervously asking for help but seems to elude him every time he comes near to catching up with her . . . but just wait until he finally does catch up to her again and accepts her request. Leroy: Walter Tetley. Birdie: Lillian Randolph. Hooker: Earle Ross. Peavey: Richard LeGrand. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: John Wald. Music: Jack Meakin. Writers: Gene Stone, Jack Robinson.



3 May

Suspense: Fear Paints a Picture (CBS, 1945)—Lana Turner shines in a remake of a 1943 episode: Heiress Julia Powell (Turner) can claim her inheritance only if she lives in her father’s San Francisco home with two designated guardians until she’s 23 years old . . . on the further condition that nothing unusual or “untoward” happens to her—even a jarring revelation about her mother’s death—or his fortune and her care will be turned over to his oldest friends. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Truman Bradley. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writer: Sigmund Miller.

4 May

The Mysterious Traveler: They Who Sleep (Mutual, 1948; repeat of 6 January 1945 broadcast)—A bitter woman (Gertrude Warner) whose love ditched her for her prettier sister (Helen Claire) finds a small, dissipated old man (Philip Clarke) in a slum apartment, a man she remembers as a once-great hypnotist who once claimed to perform a dangerous soul-transference experiment and now wants to pay him $10,000 to do it with her, transferring her soul to her sister’s body . . . even though she knows his last known such experiment caused another man’s death and his own imprisonment. This is one good reason why this show was sometimes compared, favourably, to The Whistler and The Inner Sanctum Mysteries. The Traveler: Maurice Tarplin. Music: Henry Silvern. Director: Jock MacGregor. Writers: Robert Arthur, David Kogan.

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