Tag Archives: The Life of Riley

On the threshold: Old-time radio listening, 24 December

Yuletide without Barrymore? Bah! Humbug! (Photo: CBS.)

For all who celebrate, and for anyone sorely in need of extra cheer this and any such season, today’s offerings are dedicated.

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

Set in hell, delivered in verse (some of it, admittedly, is a little on the awkward side but the archness of the delivery and the quality of the bulk makes up for it), some of history’s most notorious villains to that point convene to plan Christmas’s demise—as soon as they can quell this little, ahem, family squabble. (Sit down, Haman—for I am Ivan the Terrible! Brother Ivan is a demagogue/with the brain like a fly and the manners of a hog.)

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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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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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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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Unexpected mourning on Quality Street: Old-time radio listening, 14 September

Lux Radio Theater: Quality Street (CBS, 1936)

 

DeMille dedicates tonight’s Lux to Thalberg’s memory . . . (Photo: CBS)

There is a pall over tonight’s Lux Radio Theater production of this classic light-to-medium comedy.

It may not become evident until the broadcast’s end, when host DeMille addresses it directly, but Hollywood, and much of the world, is mourning the unexpected and premature death of one of the film industry’s genuine early giants.

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