21 August: Boiling a little more softly

Eve Arden (center) with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon. (Photo: CBS.)

Eve Arden (center) with Richard Crenna (left) and Gale Gordon. (Photo: CBS.)

Stealing the show in The Doughboys (1944), where she played a Russian guerilla with a knack for fractured English and for suggestive gestures with her rifle, wasn’t enough to break Eve Arden out of the stereotype she came to despise, whether on stage, in films, or in her earlier radio life aside the like of Jack Haley, Jack Carson, and Danny Kaye—the tart, cynical best friend.

“I just don’t like that dame,” she once told a reporter. “She is hard boiled, unsentimental, and just not me.”

Which may explain much about why, after Shirley Booth flunked the audition and Lucille Ball turned it down, Arden could and did make Our Miss Brooks work like the charm she was for eight radio seasons and four on television. She kept the tart, sardonic side intact while allowing her vulnerability to hold hands with it without shame. And it proved her career move once and for all.

Even if it would take a feature film—after both broadcast series were canceled at last—for Miss Brooks to get her man at last.



Our Miss Brooks: Another Weekend at Crystal Lake (CBS, 1949)

A year after her first eventful weekend with Boynton (Jeff Chandler) at Conklin’s (Gale Gordon) lakeside retreat, Connie (Eve Arden) is stunned to receive another invitation to indulge a romantic weekend retreat with her indifferent paramour—from Conklin’s wife, Martha (Vivi Janiss), who wants the couple to share the romance with herself and her husband on their wedding anniversary.

The problem is, Conklin rescinded a similar invitation, when he bumped into Connie at the malt shop across from Madison High, fearing she and Boynton have more than a friendly relationship, contravening his stricture against faculty fraternisation—but he doesn’t know his wife is a) onto his own planned anniversary surprise and b) invited Connie and Boynton to join them as a second surprise.

Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Bob LaMond. Writer/director: Al Lewis.


Further Channel Surfing . . .

The Goldbergs: Seymour Invites Rosalie to a Movie (Comedy/drama; CBS, 1941)
Life with Luigi: The Driver’s License (Situation comedy; CBS, 1949)
Let George Do It: Treasure of Millie’s Wharf (Crime drama; Mutual-Don Lee, 1950)
Night Beat: (Crime drama; NBC, 1950)
Bob & Ray Presents the CBS Radio Network: Vincent Price (Improvisational comedy; we’re stumped, 1959)
Gunsmoke: Dangerous Bath (Western; CBS, 1960)
Suspense: Truck Stop (Mystery/thriller; CBS, 1960)


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