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Entries Tagged as 'AFRS'

Mr. District Attorney - August 4, 1944

October 3rd, 2008 · Comments

In this post, "Mr. District Attorney", originally broadcast on August 4, 1944, and heard as program 15 in the Armed Forces Radio Service series "Mystery Playhouse".  The DA investigates a case where a dishonest lawyer plots to murder two eccentric old ladies.

"Mystery Playhouse" was a kind of "catch-all" series for different mystery and detective shows, but primarily consisted of episodes of "Molle Mystery Theater".  Peter Lorre acts as host for the AFRS version of the show and it includes a preview of next week's program, which, to my ears, sounds like it might be an episode of "Inner Sanctum".

This episode, though listed in the Goldin index, doesn't appear to be circulating among otr enthusiasts.  It was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.

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Tags: drama · AFRS

The Dennis Day Show, AFRTS Pgm 191

October 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Here's another episode of a series of Dennis Day variety shows that I've not been able to dig up much info on.

In program 191, as broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, the guests are Vera Ellen and Johnny Mercer.  Dennis sings "The Best Things in Life are Free" and Mercer sings his new song "Lonesome Polecat".  The comedy sketch is "This is Your Past, Y'all!", the life story of Johnny Mercer.  The date July 31, 1955 is stamped on the disc label, which may indicate when it was broadcast by a local AFRTS station.

The show was transferred from an original set of vinyl AFRS transcription discs.

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Tags: music · variety · AFRS · Dennis Day Show

Harlem Hospitality Club - AFRS Pgm 11

September 27th, 2008 · Comments

Here's a rare of example of otr by and for African-Americans.  "The Harlem Hospitality Club" was originally broadcast on Saturdays at 2:00 pm from the Savoy Ballroom in New York on the Mutual network.  The program was hosted by Willie Bryan and features the Lou Mel Morgan trio.  The show is a fascinating mix of live rhythm and blues performances and audience participation.  I've never seen the show in circulation and have heard of only one other collector that has a couple of shows in the series.

Program number 11 in the series as it was rebroadcast by the Armed Forces Radio Service features guest vocalists Little Miss Cornshucks and Amanda Randolph.  Songs include "Keep Your Hands on Your Heart", "All of Me" and others.

During the program, Bryant interviews the following audience members:

  • Zella Carter from Mackenzie, Tennessee
  • Andy Addison from Atlantic City and Leroy Johnson from New York, two cooks who discuss whether women are better at cooking than men
  • June Williams of Newport, Vermont, who is studying psychology
  • a woman from Williamsburg, Virginia who is 76 years old
  • Elizabeth Singleton from Snow Hill, South Carolina, about cooking Southern BBQ pig.

The program was transferred from original vinyl AFRS transcription.  I have one other program in the series I'll be posting soon.

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Tags: music · AFRS · African-Americans

The Dennis Day Show - AFRS Pgm 185

September 18th, 2008 · Comments

This week, I'm offering up another rarity that I haven't been able to dig up much information on.  It's the "Dennis Day Show", distributed as program 185 in the series by the Armed Forces Radio Service.

You may be familiar with Dennis Day from his appearances on the "Jack Benny Show" and you may have heard a sitcom that ran in the late 1940s featuring Day that's sometimes called "A Day in the Life of Dennis Day".  This program, however, is from a musical variety series done by Dennis Day in the mid-1950s.  I recently found this episode, along with two others in this series and a previously lost 1946 episode of the "Dennis Day Show" in a group of discs I purchased from another collector.

In program 185 in the series, the guests are Mel Blanc and Patty Andrews.  Dennis sings "It's a Grand Night for Singing" and Blanc performs "I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat".  The main comedy sketch is a parody that looks at what radio would sound like in Ireland and includes satires of "Dragnet" and "Old Doctor Malone".

The show may have been on June 19, 1955, a date which is noted on the disc label; the content of the programs does definitely date it to 1954 or 1955.  Does anyone have information on this series and which network it was broadcast on?

The show as transferred from a set of original vinyl AFRS transcription discs.  The other two episodes from the series, along with other finds, will be going on the blog soon.

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Tags: music · comedy · variety · AFRS · Dennis Day Show

Suspense - AFRS Pgm 21, Sept 16, 1943

September 18th, 2008 · Comments

I'm a big fan of "Suspense" and feel quite lucky to have obtained a few AFRS transcriptions of the series for my collection.  Here's another early episode of the program, "The Cross-Eyed Bear", originally broadcast sixty-five years ago this week on September 16, 1943.  It was distributed as program 21 in the "Suspense" series by the Armed Forces Radio Service.

The show stars Virginia Bruce as a young woman that's hired for a job that turns out to be more than she bargained for.  Like many early "Suspense" programs, they were still struggling with finding the right style for the shows - this one has a plot that's probably a bit too complicated to be as gripping as later scripts in the series, but it's still well done.

The transfer is direct from an original Armed Forces Radio vinyl transcription.

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Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS

Showtime - AFRS Pgm 296 - April 7, 1947

September 12th, 2008 · Comments

"Showtime" was an Armed Forces Radio Series series that would take different forms.  Sometimes, it would be more of a "disc jockey" program with show-tunes, at other times it would rebroadcast radio programs based on stage or screen musicals.

In this offering, a half-hour condensation of an episode of "Lux Radio Theater" originally broadcast on CBS on April 7, 1947 of "Alexander's Ragtime Band".  The show features Tyrone Power, Dick Haines, Margaret Whiting and Al Jolson as himself.  It's a good example of how AFRS engineers could skillfully edit material from acetate transcriptions into a seamless program - it's a breezy, tune-filled program.

The episode was transferred from an original AFRS transcription.

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Tags: drama · music · AFRS

Suspense - AFRS Pgm 8, Sorry Wrong Number

August 27th, 2008 · Comments

Here we offer the very first performance of "Sorry, Wrong Number" with Agnes Moorehead from the CBS series "Suspense", originally broadcast May 25, 1943.  This version is the one heard by our Armed Forces on AFRS in 1943 as program number 8 in the "Suspense" series.

I posted a later performance from the following year in a previous blog entry.  This first performance contains a "flub" at the end where the sound effects person makes a mistake and the actor who plays the killer gets mixed up.  The end of the show confused listeners and, the following week after many letters and phone calls, the producers of "Suspense" started the program with a special announcement explaining how the episode ended.

There are some MP3 files floating around that are labeled as "east coast" and "west coast" versions of the episode, with the "east coast" version containing the mistake and the "west coast" version done properly.  The "west coast" version is actually a fake - someone tacked on a correctly done ending from a performance done months later.  "Sorry, Wrong Number" was only presented once on May 25, 1943 on the network and it was not repeated at a special time for west coast listeners.

The show was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl pressing in nice condition.  Get a load of the AFRS announcer doing the opening with the echo chamber.

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Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS

Special Command Performance - AFRS Fourth Anniversary

August 20th, 2008 · Comments

Well, I've only got a couple of shows for you this week, but this one's a doozy.

Direct for a set of Armed Forces Radio Service transcriptions, here's a special ninety minute edition of "Command Performance" from May 29, 1946, celebrating the fourth anniversary of AFRS.

The show is a compilation of excerpts representing all of the major series produced especially for personnel in the Army, Navy and Marines during World War II.  The program, introduced by Bill Goodwin and hosted by Bob Hope is framed by a "letter" that is a kind of retrospective of major events in the War.

Hope opens the show with one his topical monologues.  Then, after setting up the show with the "letter", we hear the following excerpts:

  • "Downbeat" featuring a couple of tunes from drummer Ray Bauduc (who played with the Bob Crosby Orchestra)
  • "Melody Roundup" with the Riders of the Purple Sage doing "New San Antonio Rose" and Abigail and Buddy performing a "hillbilly" version of "Begin the Beguine"
  • "Showtime" with Janet Blair singing Cole Porter's "I Love You"
  • "Mail Call" where Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy do a routine on Dickins's "Oliver Twist", introduced by Bill Goodwin
  • "GI Jive" hosted by GI Jill with the King Sisters singing "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano"
  • "Jubilee" where the Slim Gaillard Trio perform the hit novelty tune, "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti Put-Ti)"
  • a religions program with "Ave Maria" performed by the Bob Mitchell Boys Choir
  • "GI Journal" with Kay Kyser joining Jerry Colonna as the Journal's "star reporter", then "copy girl" Linda Darnell and Mel Blanc in character as Private Sad Sack in an extended comedy sketch that includes "The Life of the Sad Sack"
  • Fred MacMurray hosting a program reminiscing about the year 1935 where the King Sisters sing "I've Had My Moments"
  • "Words With Music", with Donald Crisp reading Thomas Hood's "I Remember"
  • "Command Performance" with Bill Goodwin, Bob Hope and Janet Blair in a parody of radio soap operas, "The Ups and Downs of Brenda Scuttlebutt, Girl Yo-Yo"; Fred MacMurray joins them for a sketch about an annoying little boy on the set of a Hollywood movie
  • "Purple Heart Album" with Francis Langford singing "We'll Be Waltzing Again"

If you've never listened to AFRS programming, which was produced especially for military personnel and not broadcast stateside, the show gives you a good idea of the range of shows that were a part of AFRS's schedule alongside their rebroadcasts of material from the major networks.  It's a really entertaining ninety minutes and an intriguing immersion into the popular songs, topical jokes and military culture of World War II.

The program was transferred from an original three-disc AFRS transcription set in near-mint condition.

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Tags: music · comedy · AFRS · WW II related · historical · rand's favorites

Suspense - AFRS Pgm 30 - Wet Saturday

August 13th, 2008 · Comments

In this post, "Wet Saturday", originally broadcast December 16, 1943 on CBS's "Suspense".  The episode is a very British black-humored story about a murdered curate and a cast of eccentrics who may have killed him.  The show stars Charles Laughton and also features character actor Hans Conreid trying out his best British accent.  This is the AFRS version of the show, distributed as number 30 in the AFRS "Suspense" series.

"Wet Saturday" reminds me a bit of one of Hitchcock's lesser-known films, "The Trouble With Harry".  There's the whole premise of having a kind of "mixed up" murder, but also a kind of droll attitude about the killing that makes it seem like something rather bothersome and inconvenient.  According to the Goldin index, the story was performed on "Suspense" in 1942, 1947, and 1948 in addition to the 1943 version heard here.

The program was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl disc.  The AFRS opening announcer is our old friend Howard Duff and there's a five minute classical music fill at the end of an unknown work conducted by Donald Vorhees.

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Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS

X Minus One - June 12, 1956 - AFRTS Pgm 77 - If You Was a Moklin

July 31st, 2008 · Comments

In this episode of the classic NBC science fiction series "X Minus One", a group of human traders at a far planetary outpost deal with an alien population that can control the characteristics of their offspring.

"If You Was a Moklin" was originally broadcast on June 12, 1956; the version heard here is an excellent condition copy broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service as program 77 in the "X Minus One" series.  It was transferred directly from a set of AFRTS vinyl transcriptions.

The episode was written by Murray Leinster and adapted for the series by Ernest Kinoy.  The program stars Joe Julian, Patricia Weil, Karl Weber and Ralph Camargo.

This really is "X Minus One" at its best - great little stories that focus on the characters and use just the right touch of humor with the sci-fi element as a backdrop and motivator of the plot.  It's frustrating to me how the sci-fi genre has become centered on all kinds of quasi-technical gobbledygook or new age mysticism and quack philosophy in recent years, rather than using a sci-fi theme or setting to create good storytelling.

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Tags: drama · AFRS · SciFi