Tag Archives: Columbia Workshop

24 December: ‘Tis the night before Christmas

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

One or another way, Christmas Eve broadcasts over classic (1927-62) network radio will survive to be heard by generations who weren’t alive when radio was the world’s primary conductor of home entertainment. These can be considered some of the finest gifts the era bequeathed, even unto generations jaded enough by video and cinematic excess and ubiquity that you fear their inability to appreciate what one radio show’s customary introduction called “the theater of the mind.”

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28 September: Biting the hand that promoted him

The Jack Paar Show: Hair Tonics, Schools, Mail Delivery (Excerpt; NBC, 1947)

Jack Paar, his own cobra's mongoose once too often . . . (Photo: NBC)

Jack Paar, his own cobra’s mongoose once too often . . . (Photo: NBC)

Few people in network radio have received a bigger break than Jack Paar has this summer. And fewer, still, have ever blown themselves up the way Paar will, just a few months after he graduates from summer replacement to regular-season network radio comer.

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A Depression farce: Old-time radio listening, 30 November-1 December

Lux Radio Theater: A Man’s Castle (CBS, 1 December 1941)

Early and elemental Tracy . . . (Photo: Unknown publicity photo)

Spencer Tracy reprises one of his earliest—and most arresting—film roles in a performance that’s just about as arresting even with the requisite radio adaptation and editing.

As millions are jobless in the Great Depression, a squatter’s camper (Tracy) takes in a homeless young lady (Ingrid Bergman, in the Loretta Young film role). He feeds her as she makes him a castle inside a shack and falls in love with him despite his restless nature. There’s just one little hitch: when he discovers she’s pregnant, he wants nothing more than to hop the first freight train out of town.

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Too close for Sinatra’s comfort? Old-time radio listening, 17 November

Rocky Fortune: A Hepcat Kills the Canary (NBC, 1953)

Sinatra sometimes bumped against his own real-time heartbreak playing Rocky Fortune . . . (Photo: NBC)

Tonight’s installment in this short-lived, off-beat crime drama—it may prove a kind of pilot fish for television’s later-1950s smash, 77 Sunset Strip, playing the private-eye theme for laughs, with an accidental protagonist who isn’t even a private eye, license or otherwise, as 77′s jaunty Kookie will be—may hit a little too close to home for its between-sorts star.

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The killing pitch: Old-time radio listening, 28 September

The Columbia Workshop: The Day Baseball Died (CBS, 1946)

Santos Ortega presides over a court hearing after a too-revolutionary pitch . . . (Photo: CBS)

I’m not entirely certain that only this series could have dreamed up an absurdist fantasy such as tonight’s offering—in which a World Series is decided on a pitch considered so revolutionary and dangerously unhittable that the Series ends with an umpire’s ruling that triggers a swarming fan riot that triggers a court inquiry and a Congressional investigation into whether the pitch should be allowed to kill the game once and for all.

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