Old time radio blog.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Playlist 3/29/09

Suspense - Death and Miss Turner 11/17/52
Agnes Moorehead, star. Disturbing painting of a faceless man by an 'R Turner' intrigues one Rachel Turner. Is she or is she not a murderer? Complex psychological tale echoes Spellbound as Rachel tries to work her way out of this conundrum with the help of her trusty shrink. Moorehead gives a particularly neurotic performance.

Halls of Ivy - Missing $25 4/2/52
The Halls take a spring stroll across campus, have a droll conversation with the college groundskeeper and find out about episode title. This leads to a crisis borne by the roomie of the girl accused of the petty crime. Okay episode, not that interesting second half.

Ford Theater - Carmen Jones 11/16/47
Brilliant production of this landmark Oscar Hammerstein musical drama features most of the original Broadway cast, including Muriel Smith in the lead and Elton J Warren (a female) as the innocent ingenue Cindy Lou, both involved with dorky hero Joe. I enjoyed this so much, I listened to it twice in one week. Interestingly, Smith declined to repeat the role in Otto Preminger's 1954 movie version because she didn't think it reflected well on her people; ironically, Dorothy Dandridge went on to become the first African-American nominated for an Oscar -- Best Actress -- as Carmen, albeit voiced by white opera diva Marilyn Horne. Smith pretty much disappeared into history.

Screen Director's Playhouse - Flamingo Road 5/26/50
Joan Crawford effectively replays her late-career film role as a formerly wanton woman trying to go straight in a seedy southern town. About as good as the flick version, possibly better, since it goes right to the heart of the matter without too many distractions, such as a middle-aged lady trying to look cute dressed as a 20 year-old.

Just A Minute - The Alphabet 2/23/70
Absolutely wacky BBC-4 panel show recalls the Goons and predicts parts of current NPR series, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me by way of the format: panel members are given one minute to speak all they can on the given subject, starting with the title offering. Demerits are given for deviating from the subject, stammering, and other verbal crimes. It really is an ingenious concept as only the Brits can come up with and would be great as a teaching tool for debating teams. I particularly liked the responses of Geraldine Jones, who sounds Maggie Smith crossed with that no-nonsense vixen Anne Robinson from The Weakest Link.

Lights Out - The Author & The Thing 9/28/43
Series creator Arch Oboler's CBS Radio season-ender was this daffy, but eerie episode starring Oboler as himself trying to come up with an effective, non-hackneyed story guaranteed to scare the guano out of his listeners. In a dark room, or a lonely foxhole, this may well have done it. The thing in the title is a gibbering, grumbling ghoul who appears out of nowhere, not unlike Woody Allen's id in Stardust Memories, except when this one kills it's not for laughs. Mercedes McCambridge co-stars with an unexpectedly girly voice.

Candy Matson YUkon 2-8209 - Valley of The Moon 12/27/49
One of the very few female footpads of her day, drily-witty Matson sets out to find the killer of a fru-fru matron (Helen Kleeb, who later had a recurring role as one of the Baldwin Sisters on TV's The Waltons) at a western dude ranch. Writing is pretty good but it's a pity so few of these shows - 12 known episodes -- are still in circulation.

Escape - Earth Abides, Parts 1 & 2, 11/5 & 12/50
Mysterious Traveler - A Fire In The Sky 8/28/51
Two strong takes on end-of-the-world scenarios, one by way of international plague, the other by plunging comet. Earth Abides of course presages Stephen King's The Stand, thankfully sans the faith-based boogeyman drivel that lessened that book's impact. John Dehner stars as a scientist working up in the northern California mountains who comes down to find that 99% of humanity has succumbed to mysterious illness. Eventually this Adam finds his Eve in his hometown of San Francisco and begins to rebuild society over the coming years in an intelligent way. No punches are pulled and there are few of the tedious anti-social types that populate the current versions of the genre (Mad Max, et al).
Fire takes a different route, a claustrophobic one, that involves a defrocked scientist and an unwitting pair of newlyweds, not to mention nefariously acquired younguns, in a deep underground series of chambers. Not as all-over-the-place as Deep Impact but certainly intriguing. I wish there had been a sequel; show just kinda leaves 'em hanging.

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