Tuesday, May 31, 2016

He's not particular

Rudy Vallee: "You like girls, I gather?"

Don Defore: "I like girls anybody gathers."

(from the Rudy Vallee radio show)

Don't you just love it?

When people take what should be a 30-second conversation and turn it into a ten-minute conversation?

Those fine horror actors

There are several names that are necessarily connected to horror movies. Some of those actors were not particularly note-worthy, for example, Bela Lugosi. However, several men whose names were connected with horror pictures were indeed very fine actors. I mention particularly Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price and Boris Karloff. Rathbone, of  course, was twice nominated for an Oscar. Price was widely recognized as a suave and accomplished actor, despite the fact that he made many horror pictures. Karloff is one of the most under-appreciated actors ever, in my opinion. Far from being only a Frankenstein, he could and did portray very gentlemanly figures.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Four Vees

In the movie I Love a Bandleader, there is a brief appearance by a black female singing group which are listed as "The Four Vees." That is about all I can find about them. I guess they had their brief moment in the limelight and then disappeared from view. They actually may have been well-known in their locality, but just never advanced beyond that.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Watching old movies with a lap dog

It is not as easy as it sounds. The dog does not care about the movie (except in rare occasions where there is a dog barking). He wants to play, or perhaps sleep, but in either case he is in the way.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Claire Trevor in The Lucky Stiff

Trevor is one of those unusual actresses who were remarkably attractive without being particular beautiful. In The Lucky Stiff, she plays the secretary of lawyer John J. Malone (Brian Donlevy). She is hopelessly in love with him, but he completely overlooks her (until the end of the movie, of course).

This is a cute movie, but not particularly noteworthy except for Trevor's performance. She shows a definite comic ability and pulls off her role wonderfully, displaying exasperation, resignation, exhaustion and dog-like devotion throughout the flick, along with that ever-present look of unrequited love in her eyes.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The differing personalilties of Philo Vance

In the novels, Vance was presented as a somewhat bored, almost-sleepy, disinterested man-about-town. In the radio show he is much more of an engaged, vigorous personality, very focused on his cases (much to focused on them to suit his secretary). The latter is more appealing, but since Van Dine created the character, the former is what he was supposed to be.

Basil Rathbone as Vance

Thursday, May 26, 2016

She was a shorty

Barbara Luddy, the star of the First Nighter radio show, said in an interview that she was "not quite four-eleven." At the initial readings of the scripts submitted for the program they would have only one copy, so she would stand in front and the other actors would look over her shoulder.

Here is a LINK to an excellent interview with Luddy and Olan Soule about their radio days.

Matt Dillon's Dodge City

Marshall Dillon was a United States official, and so his responsibility covered more than just the town of Dodge City. But, just as an indication, how big was Dodge in those days? The population in 1880 is listed at 996, which was a pretty fair sized town for that area in that time (and, incidentally, is right at the population of Magazine, Arkansas today). The time of the cattle drives might have been somewhat earlier than that, and during that boom-and-bust period the population of a town might vary considerably over a short period, but that gives us an indication, at least.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bergen was not one of the best

To be honest about it, Edgar Bergen was a terrible ventriloquist.

Philo Vance's personality

He gave the impression of remaining remote from all mundane matters; and, in truth, he looked upon life like a dispassionate and impersonal spectator at play, secretly amused and  debonairly cynical at the meaningless futility of it all. Withal, he had a mind avid for knowledge, and few details of the human comedy that came within his sphere of vision escaped him.

(from The "Canary" Murder Case, by S. S. Van Dine)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

He did not have to act too much

The synopsis of the movie Harvard, Here I Come! says it is about a "lovable but dimwitted" nightclub owner. Given that Maxie Rosenbloom, the actor, was a former light-heavyweight boxer on whom boxing took a "punch-drunk" toll eventually, that is not too hard to visualize.

Maxie Rosenbloom 1941.JPG

Durante blunts Treacher

Arthur Treacher: "My dear sir, even if I were to give up the cinema and become a butler, I most assuredly would never enter the service of a creature of your ilk."

Jimmy Durante: "And what, pray, is wrong with my ilk?"

Treacher: "You, sir, are boorish, crass, overwhelmingly illiterate and completely repugnant."

Durante: "How much of that is good?"

(from the Mail Call radio show)

The entire exchange between Treacher and Durante is hilarious. HERE is a link.

Judy Garland's voice

Garland was one of the top performers in her field, but I did not enjoy her voice very much. It was too strident and brassy. Typical Broadway stuff.

A clever quip from Fibber McGee

Jim Jordan (Fibber) was asked this question in an interview in 1984: "Are you officially retired now?"

Jordan: "No, I'm officially out of work. That's been going on for about thirty years now."

(Jordan was 87 years old at the time)

Philo Vance was not Philo Vance

"This man was a young social aristocrat, whom, for purposes of anonymity, I have chosen to call Philo Vance."

Thus S. S.Van Dine introduces his famous detective in "The 'Canary' Murder Case," the second in the series of novels. One wonders, if his name was not really Philo Vance, what it was. Perhaps somewhere else in the novels Van Dine reveals this mystery, but I have not yet seen it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A rare combination

"So seldom brains and beauty dance in street together."

(Charlie Chan, from The Shanghai Chest)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Anyone ought to know to do that

I am not a vindictive man, but I was feeling in no amiable frame of mind towards this literary screwball. I mean, it's all very well for a chap to plead that he's an author and expect on the strength of that to get away with conduct which would qualify the ordinary man for a one-way ticket to Colney Hatch, but even an author, I felt - and I think with justice - ought to have had the sense to glance through his car before he locked it up for the night, to make sure there weren't any shipping magnates dozing in the back seat.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Not a son to speak of

          "You have no conception, Bertie, literally no conception of the chumminess which exists between us. Hands were shaken and backs slapped. He was all over me like a bedspread. Well, to give you some idea, he said he wished he had a son like me."
          "Well, considering he's got a son like Edwin, that isn't saying much."

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Even Fibber missed it about Uncle Dennis

In an interview in 1973, Jim Jordan (Fibber McGee) stated that Molly's Uncle Dennis was purely an off-stage character. He was wrong. We have at least two episodes in which he holds a conversation with the pair.

Sometimes there is not much good to be said

          "Fittleworth!' He shot an accusing glance at me. "Friend of yours, isn't he?"
          "Oh, bosom."
          "You would do well to choose your friends more carefully," he said, with the first lapse from that strange benevolence of his which he had yet shown.
          I suppose this was really the moment for embarking upon an impassioned defense of Boko, stressing his admirable qualities. Not being able to think of any, however, I remained silent, and he carried on.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Just how dorky can a glamour star look?

Dick Haymes was a big-time crooner in the 1940's and early '50's. He sang with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, two of the biggest band-leaders of the era. He also starred in several movies, most notably State Fair. However, as you can see from the picture below, some of the sizzle had departed by 1966.

He was NOT a cheerful sort

In disposition skin to a more than ordinarily short-tempered snapping turtle, he resembled in appearance a malevolent Aubrey Smith, and usually, when one encountered him, gave the impression of being just about to foam at the mouth.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Real life Tarzan?

Edgar Rice Burroughs' fictional character was John Clayton, Viscount Greystoke.  There actually was a Lord Greystoke. Sir Ralph de Greystoke, 1st Lord Greystoke died in 1323. The title lasted until 1569.

How deadly was the Black Death?

 In total, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century. . . . According to medieval historian Philip Daileader in 2007:
The trend of recent research is pointing to a figure more like 45–50% of the European population dying during a four-year period. There is a fair amount of geographic variation. In Mediterranean Europe, areas such as Italy, the south of France and Spain, where plague ran for about four years consecutively, it was probably closer to 75–80% of the population.

(according to Wikipedia)

Can you imagine 3 out of every 4 people in the United States dying from a disease?!

How good was Alice Faye in her prime?

(From Wikipedia)

Irving Berlin was once quoted as saying that he would choose Faye over any other singer to introduce his songs, and George Gershwin and Cole Porter called her the "best female singer in Hollywood in 1937".

Rocky Jordan - an underappreciated show?

I lump Rocky Jordan into the general category of detective programs, but it really was not. True, he was solving quandaries each week, but it was more of an adventure program, styled as it evidently was after the movie Casablanca. The acting is good, the plots are intriguing, and the setting is exotic. Romance is inserted, but only occasionally. Jordan is a tough, hard-nosed character with enough of a soft side to make him interesting. If you are an old radio fan, this show is a must.

A small disadvantage of modern technology

It is a wonderful advantage to be able to listen to collections of old radio shows. However, there is one slight disadvantage. When we hear several episodes of a particular program back-to-back, we notice things the original listeners probably would have overlooked because their hearings of the show were only once a week, or at some other space of time. If the writers got into a little bit of a rut, that becomes evident, as certain devices get overused. For example, we have two episodes of the Rocky Jordan show in which a character has lost his gun and says that it doesn't matter, because "there is strength enough in my arms" to take care of the hero. I suspect the original listeners would not have caught that repetition.

Just no reason to smile

Bu though all Nature smiled, there was, as I have indicated, no disposition on the part of Bertram to follow its example. I got no kick from the shining sun, no uplift from the azure firmament, as it is sometimes called: while as for the twittering birds their heartiness in the circumstances seemed overdone and in dubious taste. When you're faced with the sort of ordeal I was faced with, there is but little satisfaction to be derived from the thought that you've got a nice day for it

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How cheap can you get?

Bob Hope: Did you pack my traveling clock?

Butler: No, sir. You loaned that to Mr. Benny last fifth of July.

Hope: Oh yes, I remember: he wanted to be first in line at the unused firecracker sale.

Busy actress

In an interview, busy radio actress Virginia Gregg noted that at times she was doing as many as five different radio shows in a day. My family will know her face as the officer in charge of the female contingent on Operation Petticoat.

How did she mean that?

     "How did it all end?"
     "Oh, I got away with my life. Still, what's life?"
     "Life's all right."
     "Not if you've lost the girl you love."
     "Have you lost the girl you love?"
     "That what I'm trying to figure out. I can't make up my mind. It all depends what construction you place on the words, 'I never want to see or speak to you again in this world or the next, you miserable fathead.'"
     "Did she say that?"
     "Among other things."

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The death of Gale Gordon and his wife

Gordon died of lung cancer on June 30, 1995, at the Redwood Terrace Health Center in Escondido, California, aged 89. Virginia Curley, his wife of nearly 60 years, had died in the same facility one month earlier.

(from Wikipedia)

Only through the eyes of love

Well, I cold readily understand Boko falling in love at first sight with Nobby, of course, for she is a girl liberally endowed with oomph. But how she could have fallen in love at first sight with Boko beat me. The first sight of Boko reveals to the beholder an object with a face like an intellectual parrot. Furthermore, as is the case with so many of the younger literati, he dresses like a tramp cyclist, affecting turtleneck sweaters and grey flannel bags with a patch on the knee and conveying a sort of general suggestion of having been left out in the rain overnight in an ash can.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A dumb look

He did not reply for a space. A wooden expression had crept into his features, and his eyes had taken on he look of cautious reserve which you see in those of parrots, when offered half a banana by a stranger of whose bona fides they are not convinced.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why, his motives were entirely pure!

Kate: You ain't just saying you'll marry me because my Pappy left me a gold mine, are you?

Red: "Don't be ridiculous! I'd marry you no matter who left it to you."

(from the Red Skelton radio show0

Friday, May 13, 2016

Barton Yarbrough - a perfect sidekick for Joe Friday

In some of the early Dragnet radio programs, Barton Yarbrough played Ben Romero, who worked with Joe Friday, portrayed by Jack Webb. Webb's deadpan manner is now famous, and Yarbrough's easy drawl fit with that style perfectly.

It is pretty bad

when you go to a party, and you are the only one there, and you still don't like the company.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Winston Churchill's blue-blooded ancestry

All these were direct ancestors of Sir Winston.

Duke of Malborough
Baron Tevor of Bronham
Duke of Bedford
Earl of Leicester
Earl of Bristol
Earl of Dundonald
Earl of Cassillis
Marquis of Douglas
Duke of Hamilton
Marquis of Londonderry
Earl of Antrim
Earl of Bessborough

And others.

Some things are just hard to do

"Sometimes very difficult to pick up pumpkin with one finger."

(Charlie Chan, in The Black Camel)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Taking votes at the Golden Era Discussion Club

After the reading of the minute of the last meeting, President Lum Edwards would call for a vote to accept them. Never would the "ayes" answer at the same time - obviously, since the two actors played all the parts between them, and so they had to stagger the votes.

Frankie Remley as an audience

According to an interview with Dennis Day, Jack Benny was very careful not to over-rehearse in order to maintain the spontaneous quality of the program. Benny would not allow the orchestra to sit through the rehearsal of the comedy, because he wanted them to hear it for the first time right along with the audience. Musician Frank Remley was miked during the show because he had an infectious laugh and would break up at some of the antics.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A fearsome relative

When, about eighteen months before, news had reached me through well-informed channels that my Aunt Agatha, for many years a widow, or derelict, as I believe it is called, was about to take another pop at matrimony, my first emotion, as was natural in the circumstances, had been a gentle pity for the unfortunate goop slated to step up the aisle with her - she, as you are aware, being my tough aunt, the one who eats broken bottles and conducts human sacrifices by the light of the full moon.

(from Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Little Rock and Paragould make Gang Busters

The May 24, 1947 episode of Gang Busters radio show featured J. A. Pitcock, at that time the Chief of Police in Little Rock and involved a crime committed in Paragould.

An Honest Cop

At the beginning of the Gangbusters radio program, a real-life police official would be referenced. In at least some of the episodes, that man was Lewis J. Valentine, who was New York police commissioner from 1934 to 1945. Time magazine credited him with making that city's police department one of the most honest in the country.

He had no hope

"It looked to me as if the blue bird had thrown in the towel and formally ceased to function." A nice, poetic way of putting it, as found in Jeeves in the Morning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Doesn't sound like an academic powerhouse

"I went to the University of California for two years and took it very seriously. Then I went to the University of Southern California for two years. Now I take nothing seriously."

(from West From Singapore, by Louis L'Amour]

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Advice from a World War I veteran

My sister-in-law's grandfather was a veteran of World War I. He told his family that the advice his sergeant had given him was, "Keep your bowels open and your mouth shut."

Friday, May 06, 2016

Xavier Cugat on Rudy Vallee

For at least a portion of the 1945 season, Xavier Cugat and his orchestra were a regular feature of the Rudy Vallee radio program. His music, of course, was excellent, and he proved to be a competent comedic actor, also.

Billie Burke was just irritating

Burke was a busy and well-known character actress, and she must have done her job well, because the characters she portrayed were inevitably very irritating personalities.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

A steer is not a heifer

Just because a bull calf is neutered does not make it a female calf. It is mutilated, yes. It is no longer capable of reproduction, yes. But it is not a heifer. Just common sense that most of us knew instinctively when we were yet children. Amazing how many people is high places in government and academia do not understand that simple fact.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Peggy Webber - old radio veteran

Since she began acting at a very early age and has lived a long time, Peggy Webber is one of our best sources about what things were like in the old time radio days. She has been interviewed several times for the satellite OTR channel. She appeared on over 100 Dragnet episodes on television.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

To make a long story short

or, as one character said on the Rocky Fortune radio show, "to put the whole thing in a coyote's ear."

A job is always easy, IF

if you are not the one having to do it. We are shorthanded in the office where I work, and several of us have pressing personal issues that are going to require us to miss additional time, which really creates a hardship on the remaining persons. The Site Manager walked through the other day, and reassured one of the ladies, "Do what you have to do; we'll take care of things here." Well, "we" won't be taking care of anything. He likely will not even inquire further to see what the situation is. It won't affect him at all, but still it is "we" that will take care of it.

Monday, May 02, 2016

And here is one I'm guessing you didn't know

Bill Thompson, who played Wallace Wimple on Fibber McGee and Molly's radio program, was also the voice of Uncle Waldo on The Aristocats.

Wallace Wimple and the dummy

We all know the versatile actor Bill Thompson from his multiple rolls on Fibber McGee and Molly, including audience favorite Wallace Wimple. But he was also a regular on the Edgar Bergen program, where he portrayed a traveler and lecturer about an eastern European country.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

To be a writer

A writer, if he expects to write much, must observe and remember. Often there is no chance to return and look again, even if the place remains unchanged, which is rare indeed.

(Louis L'Amour, from the Foreward to West From Singapore)