Tag Archives: Our Miss Brooks

Beer barrels and literary panels: Old-time radio listening, 9 January

There’s no such thing as too much Fred Allen . . .

Texaco Star Theater with Fred Allen: Hit By a Beer Barrel (CBS, 1944)—Guest Ed Gardner is little help when a brewery truck backs up to the sidewalk near the infamous Duffy’s Tavern, a barrel conks Fred (Allen) on the head, knocking him cold outside the dive, and it all ends up in small claims court with Fred accused of hijacking; meanwhile, Fred and Portland (Hoffa) ponders the latest point assignments and livestock exhibitions, and the Alley irregulars (Jack Smart, John Doe, Minerva Pious, Charles Cantor—who also plays his Duffy’s Tavern role of Finnegan), Alan Reed) address New York’s worst snowstorm (until the next one, of course). Announcer: Jimmy Wallington. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra; Hi, Lo, Jack and the Dame. Writers: Fred Allen, possibly Bob Schiller.

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Gale force: Old-time radio listening, 8 January

If you want to forge a case that Gale Gordon is old-time radio’s premiere slow-burning, pomposity-powered blowhard, you’d have a difficult time finding more solid evidence than the following three entries.

You’d also have a difficult time finding better evidence that, somewhere within the runups to the explosions, there is one of the greatest supporting actors network radio has known.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Wants to Win a Bean Counting Contest (NBC, 1946)

Kremer’s Drug Store is holding the contest, the proprietor’s mother-in-law won last year’s contest, and McGee (Jim Jordan) thinks he can win it scientifically with his own similar bowl and bean counting at home—never mind who might think he’s full of beans.

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Benny rides roughshod: Old-time radio listening, 29 November

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Buck Benny Tries Again . . . (NBC, 1936)

Jack and Mary will have big reason to celebrate the 1936-37 season . . . (Photo: NBC)

Jack Benny has been building a steady climb since his premiere as a radio lead in 1932, and this season the work pays off—he’ll achieve his first number one finish in his time slot, on his night, and for the entire season in 1936-37.

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Two shades of Lurene: Old-time radio listening, 20 November

The Whistler: Death Sees Double (CBS, 1944)

Radio Life staged this photograph to salute Lurene Tuttle’s jaw-dropping turn as identical twins on The Whistler . . .

Yes, this is the same as the 6 November 1944 episode known first as “The Twins.” Unfortunately, “The Twins” was pre-empted, allowing CBS’s national network to carry a speech by Republican presidential aspirant Thomas E. Dewey, the former New York governor challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the first of Dewey’s two failed White House bids.

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Space odyssey: Old-time radio listening, 19 November

Dimension X: Competition (NBC, 1950)

Les Tremayne, one of the New York actors involved heavily enough with Dimension X . . . (Photo: NBC)

Suspense and Escape dipped into the genre once in awhile. Quiet, Please was a very occasional dipper but focused, as always (and brilliantly), on the psychological fantasy first. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were strictly for the kids and often as not insulted even their intelligence. Not until 1950, when Destination Moon becomes a film hit, does old-time radio find an impetus for a full science fiction series, and the first such show, Dimension X, will prove as well to be the best of its breed.

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