The Fred Allen Show: Suing to Return Fred’s Cuckoo Clock (NBC, 28 December 1947)
Lets’ face it. One of the big things the day after Christmas is the exchange department. And if you’ve ever gotten the business from whatever place of business gives you a hard time over post-Christmas exchanges, this one’s for you.
All Fred (Allen) wants to do is exchange the cuckoo he got for Christmas because the little bird comes out of his house backward; all he had to do to make things go from bad to worse was let Monty Woolley (himself) talk him into suing when the store refuses to take the clock back. Enough to drive a man cuckoo, no?
With Portland Hoffa. Senator Claghorn: Kenny Delmar. Titus Moody: Parker Fenelly. Mrs. Nussbaum: Minerva Pious. Ajax Cassidy: Peter Donald. Music: Al Goodman Orchestra, the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Robert Weiskopf.
Quiet, Please: Rain on New Year’s Eve (Mutual, 29 December 1947)
So, I went to sleep. So, I went to sleep. And I dreamed. Even when I was asleep I couldn’t get that guy Dody off my mind. I dreamed I was on the set. I dreamed they were shootin’ the last scene, the one where the monster comes closer and closer to the camera and that head of his without any face fills the whole screen. You know how it is in dreams. You’re here—and then all of a sudden you’re there—and you’re one guy and then you’re another and it’s all mixed up?
Asked to create a second monster for his film script, a deadline-crunching screenwriter (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates) imagines—fatefully—what it must be like to be such a monster . . . who only has his powers for the year’s final hour. The writing is some of the series’ most understated, and that’s saying a lot.
Mary Lou: Muriel Kirkland. Dody: J. Pat O’Malley. Music: Albert Buhrmann. Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.
FURTHER CHANNEL SURFING . . .
The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: Jack Talks About His Christmas Party (NBC, 1941)—Jack (Benny) thinks his party was a raging success, never mind that minds reasonable and otherwise might disagree; the cast (Don Wilson, Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day) swap stories about their Christmas presents, including Dennis’s less-than-stellar reception from his girl friend over hers; and, a New Year’s playlet. Announcer: Don Wilson. Music: Mahlon Merrick, Phil Harris, Dennis Day. Writers: George Balzar, Milt Josefsberg, Sam Perrin, John Tackaberry. (Note: Recording edited to remove commercials, music selections.)
Fibber McGee & Molly: A Fresh Start for the New Year (NBC, 1943)—The Wisenheimer of Wistful Vista (Jim Jordan) has been bustling about returning borrowed items, paying bills furiously, catching up with promised repairs, and otherwise cleaning up his act—with one notorious exception. Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Wellington: Ransom Sherman. Alice: Shirley Mitchell. Doc: Arthur Q. Bryan. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.
Duffy’s Tavern: Balancing the Books (NBC, 1945)—Fearing the worst when the never-heard boss hires an accountant to go over the bar’s books, edgy Archie (Ed Gardner) wangles a tavern gig for The $64 Question (featuring guest Garry Moore), hoping to use the prize to balance the books. Miss Duffy: Sandra Gould. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Eddie: Eddie Green. Music: Peter Van Steeden. Writers: Ed Gardner, Larry Gelbart, possibly Larry Marks.
Fibber McGee & Molly: The Country Club Dance (NBC, 1948)—The McGees (Jim and Marian Jordan) have been invited to the dance as La Trivia’s (Gale Gordon) guests, and they take it in with a mix of awe and amusement—at least until McGee innocently learns the governor (Arthur Q. Bryan, who also plays Doc Gamble) may be grooming La Trivia to succeed him. The Old-Timer/Wimpole: Bill Thompson. Genevieve: Possibly Bea Benaderet. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writers: Don Quinn, Phil Leslie.
Matinee with Bob & Ray: Mary McGoon’s New Year’s Eve Ideas (WHDH, 1949)—Includes “Stories You Hear when Us the People Mumble.” This is a classic example of the duo’s earliest work and points the way to how they’d graduate from regional to national phenomenon in due course. Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding, Raymond Knight.
The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show: Not Invited to the Party (NBC, 1944)—The party is a New Year’s Eve party, the host is a Harlem society patron whose daughter Andy (Charles Correll) dated “once or twice,” and Andy, awaiting his invitation, only thinks he’s the only one among the usual gang who’s been invited—a thought that begins to dissipate when he learns Amos (Freeman Gosden, who also plays Kingfish) and Ruby (Elinor Harriot) have an invitation. Miss Blue: Madaline Lee. Shorty: Lou Lubin. Arbadella: Terry Howard. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Lud Luskin. Writers: Joe Connolly, Bob Mosher, Bob Fisher, Arthur Stander.
The Fitch Bandwagon: New Year’s Resolution (NBC, 1946)—Phil (Harris) makes a powerful punch just in case friends stop by and springs a pair of Rose Bowl tickets on Alice (Faye), who’s expecting a reporter to visit for an interview. Remley: Elliott Lewis. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Additional cast: Unidentified. Announcer: Unidentified. Music: Walter Scharf, Phil Harris Orchestra. Director: Paul Phillips. Writers: Joe Connolly, Bob Mosher.
Fibber McGee & Molly: Exchanging Gifts at the Bon Ton (NBC, 1953)—It’s hard enough for most mortals but a genuine chore for the McGees (Jim and Marian Jordan), when they need to exchange a slightly impractical Christmas gift from Doc (Arthur Q. Bryan). They haven’t lost a beat in the switch to semi-serialisation. The Old-Timer: Bill Thompson. Mrs. Timsdale: Jody Collins. Writers: Phil Leslie, Ralph Goodman.
Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Charlie Chu, Oriental Sleuth (No peeking, 1959)—Much like Fred Allen with his longtime “One Long Pan” sketches, those two zany characters of many characters couldn’t resist satirising—albeit a little more gently—Charlie Chan in all his guises, sending their satirical gumshoe and his number one son to solve the Case of the Ugly Entry. You’d have expected this. Writers/improvisors: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.
Richard Diamond, Private Detective: The Plaid Overcoat Case (ABC, 1951)—Leaving for a dinner date with Helen (Virginia Gregg), Diamond (Dick Powell) is knocked cold by Duke Crandall (Sheldon Leonard) at his office door, but Diamond learns from Levinson (Alan Reed) that a shady nightclub owner is looking for Crandall himself—after Crandall jumped the bail the club owner put up in a blackmail case. Hard boiled boilerplate to a point, but you’ll enjoy it anyway. Pattie: Sandra Gould. Additional cast; Herb Butterfield, Sidney Miller. Announcer: Unidentified. Music: Frank Worth. Director: Nat Wolfe. Writer: Dick Carr.
Dragnet: The Big Mask, Part One (NBC, 1952)—A series of unsolved holdups, in which the victims are large supermarket managers forced to lead the black-masked thief on a shopping spree that ends in the market’s safe, sends Friday (Jack Webb) and Smith (Ben Alexander) on a manhunt underwritten by public, press, and department pressure on the robbery detail—and capturing a suspect who has just mounted a copycat robbery on another market. First of two parts. Additional cast: Whit Connor, Harry Bartell. Announcers: George Fenneman, Hal Gibney. Music: Walter Schumann. Director: Jack Webb. Writer: Jack Robinson.
Broadway is My Beat: The Ted Ebberly Murder Case (CBS, 1951)—He’s been beaten to death in an alley behind a bar, and Clover (Larry Thor) begins his probe with a former boxer (Roy Glenn) who gave up the ring for model making, but his former manager (Clayton Post) swears the dead man picked the fight with the ex-pug indicating self defence, a woman who may have seen the fight turns up murdered, and the ex-boxer turns up beaten unconscious . . . with particular mutilation wreaked upon his hands. Mrs. Locke: Charlotte Lawrence. Additional cast: Herb Butterfield, Jenny LeGarde, Jester Hairston. Muggavan: Jack Kruschen. Tartaglia: Charles Calvert. Announcer: Bill Anders. Music: Alexander Courage. Director: Elliott Lewis. Writers: Morton Fine, David Friedkin.
The Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Death Has Claws (NBC Blue, 1941)—A tenement dweller (Santos Ortega) disturbed by howling cats along the side wall may have a lot more to disturb him than just their infelicity. Additional cast: Unknown. Host: Raymond Edward Johnson. Writer/director: Himan Brown. (Note: Static and squelch in this recording.)
Suspense: A Thing of Beauty (CBS, 1944)—British film actress June Dupres stands in for an ailing Ida Lupino as a once-renowned stage actress, living nine years in seclusion after a decade’s institutional isolation, visited on a heavily rainy night by her priest and his protege, to whom she finally—and unexpectedly—reveals the true cause of her breakdown, traced back to her first major role, a row with the production’s leading lady, the leading lady’s murder, and a shaky marriage to a fading actor who knows more than he’s revealed previously about the crime, while only one of the two visiting clergy knows there’s more to the woman than meets a blind man’s eye. Don’t let the occasional lapses into melodrama and the odd (but brief) spot of overacting (which keep this from going from good to great) stop you from staying the course, anyway. Additional cast: Herbert Rawlinson, John McIntire, unidentified players. Announcer (The Man in Black): Possibly Joseph Kearns. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writer: Robert L. Richards, based on a story by Elizabeth Hiestand.