rand’s esoteric otr

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Rocky Jordan - AFRTS Pgm 7, The Nile Runs High

July 4th, 2008

See an update at the end of this post on this puzzling disc ...

In this post, we take a look at an uncirculated episode of the adventure series "Rocky Jordan" which may be from a previously undocumented run of the series. Directly transferred from an AFRTS set of discs dating to June, 1956, it's the episode "The Nile Runs High", program 7 in the AFRTS run of "Rocky Jordan", series IED-557.

"Rocky Jordan" was a mystery-adventure series set in Cairo running on CBS's Pacific Network. The show started as a quarter hour serial broadcast five days a week in January, 1945 as "A Man Named Jordan". By July, the show took on a half-hour format and ran for two years. The show returned to CBS in October 1948 as "Rocky Jordan".

Jack Moyles played the title character for most of the run with George Raft taking over the part during the summer of 1951 through the end of the series run in June 1953. The First Generation Radio Archives offers a ten-cd set of "Rocky Jordan" shows transferred from original acetates and has an informative page about the series here and here.

This disc has me a bit puzzled. On the same AFRS discs is an episode of "X Minus One", "If You Was a Moklin", broadcast on June 12, 1956. (I'll be posting the "X Minus One" episode soon.) The 1956 broadcast date would put the origin of the discs three years after the end of "Rocky Jordan"'s run on CBS, according to logs of the series and lists of existing episodes I've researched.

"The Nile Runs High" was performed on the series on September 18, 1949 and survives in a copy that includes ads for Del Monte and an orchestral score. This AFRS disc uses the same script, but an organ is used for the music. (The September, 1949 version of the show is available at archive.org.)

What's really strange about the show is that there are no actor or other credits and it sounds like Rocky Jordan was being played by Jack Moyles (remember that George Raft was playing the part from 1951 through the end of the series in 1953). Also, sampling several episodes of the series at archives.org, I don't find any that use this sparse production style with minimal sound effects and organ accompaniment like this show.

So, was AFRS re-running episodes of "Rocky Jordan" after it left the network and did Moyles play the part in later episodes, which would make this show from the 1953 period? Was this taken from an undocumented version of the show recorded for syndication or broadcast locally in 1956 after its CBS run?

Martin Grams, Jr. from the OTR mailing list suggested it might be a rehearsal recording since it features organ accompaniment and minimal sounds effects. I'd be curious to hear other discs in the AFRTS series if they turn up to see what they might contain to see if they're similar in style.

Regardless of the origins, sit back and enjoy this uncirculated and rather mysterious episode of "Rocky Jordan" and please leave a comment on the blog if you have some ideas or information on where this episode may have came from.

Update, 7/6/08 --

Dee from the OTR mailing list notes that the "Directory of Armed Forces Radio Series" by Harry McKenzie lists the show as being broadcast in 1957; the series was a 22 episode run of shows previously broadcast on AFRS in 1949.

The Directory also lists the series with the correct number (557), but the disc I have has it as "IED-557". The series should have had a END prefix - END was used for entertainment shows and IED was for information and education. (The flip side label lists the "X Minus One" program correctly as "END-483".)

The show is still puzzling - it doesn't match the production style of any of the circulating 1949 "Rocky Jordan" shows, but the cast and script sound the same as the 1949 version of the episode. So, is this a rehearsal recording?

Update, 7/8/08 --

See the comments for an in-depth comparison of this show to the original 1949 CBS network version and some possibilities on the show's origins from Stewart Wright.

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  • Chloe

    Randy,

    Looks like you found another rare one.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Chloe

    Jul 8, 2008 at 1:34 am
  • ykw

    It wouldn’t be the first rehearsal of this period to show up on an AFRS disc. I believe there are multiple SAM SPADE and PHILIP MARLOWE shows from 1948-9 — preserved sans music and SFX — in wide circulation.

    Jul 8, 2008 at 1:37 am
  • Charles

    Thank you for another great rare find. I really appreciate you sharing these gems with us.

    Jul 8, 2008 at 2:55 am
  • randsesotericotr

    Steward Wright did an in-depth comparison of this “Rocky Jordan” recording with the original 1949 CBS network version. He found some interesting differences and offers up some possibilities about its origins. — rand

    Randy,

    I was going to send you the information regarding Rocky Jordan that is contained in Harry McKenzie’s book “The Directory of Armed Forces Radio Service Series.” However, I noticed that some one had already sent it to you.

    I have listened to both the “uncirculated” show from your site and the 09-18-1949 CBS West Coast version of “The Nile Runs High.” (I used the best quality copy in my collection of the 09-18-1949 broadcast, from the First Generation Radio Archives set, for comparison.)

    I made five audio clips of various portions of each of the two shows to more easily compare voices and dialog. (I can send you the clips on a CD if you want them.) I noticed the following items of interest.

    ACTORS: There are some different actors in the two shows DIFFERENT actors playing these roles of Shuffa - the dying boatman, Shadrack - the thug, and the Registrar of Boats.

    The SAME actors played the following roles in both the 1949 and 1956 shows: Rocky, Cpt. Saabya, El Kihira, Malak, and Ferada.

    DIALOG: There are also many dialog differences. Examples: Rocky’s encounter with Shadrack and Jaba at the phone booth.

    At Malak’s cotton warehouse 1956: Rocky asks for “Mr. Malak” 1949: Rocky asks for “Malak Bey”

    Final dialog 1956: Saabya says, “Will you join me for coffee, Jordan?” 1956: Saabya says, “Jordan, Will you join me for coffee?”

    Theories: It is possible that the show on your site could be a rehearsal recording for the 1949 broadcast in which some different actors were used than appeared in the actual broadcast. However, there are also the dialog differences through out the two shows to consider and the two vastly different openings between the two shows.

    Or, it could have been a test disk to try a new opening.

    Or, it could be an undiscovered audition disk for the 30-minute, weekly Jack Moyles 1947-50 CBS West Coast run.

    Or, it could be a previously unidentified audition show for a proposed 1955 resumption of the Rocky Jordan series.

    Or, it could a be totally new production.

    Whatever the source of this mystery disk, for some unknown reason, it could have substituted for the 1949 CBS broadcast disk when it was aired on AFRTS. Perhaps some other episodes from 1956-57 AFRTS run may surface and provide additional information.

    A Final Note: At the end of your show, Jack Moyles says, “Next week’s story is about a friend of mine, my bartender, Chris. I caught him holding out on me, only I couldn’t do anything about it. You see what he was holding out wasn’t money, it was information about a girl.” This fits the plot line for “Memento From Adelaide” which was broadcast on September 25, 1949 the week after the 1949 broadcast of the “The Nile Runs High.”

    Old-Time Radio is rife with many mysteries large and small. It looks like you have identified another one.

    Signing off for now,

    Stewart Wright

    Jul 8, 2008 at 4:57 pm
  • Bob

    From the 3 September 1955 Hayward (CA) Daily Review Video Notes column by Ellis Walker:

    … Still other tricks up the CBS radio sleeve. President Art Hayes likes the idea of five-a-week 15-minute shows so well that he’s auditioning seven new dramatic series for production in Hollywood. Under consideration are “Johnny Dollar,” “Dr. Dana,” “Captain Courage,” “Girl from Paradise,” “Rocky Jordan,” “I Cover the Waterfront” and “Blues in the Night.” …

    Jul 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm