rand’s esoteric otr

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Command Performance, Pgm 162

April 11th, 2009

We continue our look at the work of Bing Crosby this week with what may be the most famous program on AFRS that he appeared in.  It's program 162 in the series "Command Performance", the comic strip operetta, "Dick Tracy in B Flat".

The once-in-a-lifetime cast includes Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, Cass Daley, Frank Sinatra, Frank Morgan, Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, the Andrews Sisters and announcer Harry Von Zell.

transcription label

There are several unusual aspects to this episode of "Command Performance".  The show was usually a half-hour and it's not clear why they expanded it to an hour for this show that was distributed at that particular time.  In fact, if you listen closely, it sounds like it may have been originally recorded as a "two-parter", since there's a break in the middle telling you to tune in next week.  This reference falls a couple of minutes into side three of the transcription set, so I don't think it's there to give the local stations flexibility in programming it on their schedule.

I'd also like to know how the show originated - who came up with the idea and if it was the work primarly of one or more writers on the "Command Peformance" staff.

Our digital file was recorded directly from an original vinyl AFRS transcription set.  This may be an upgrade for your collection, since at least one popular version of the recording that's floating around in mp3 format sounds as though it was transferred from a second generation tape and was dubbed too slow, making the cast sound like they have a bad cold.


  • Dr. OTR

    I’ve had copies of this for years but only just now listened to it for the first time, using your copy. This is the funniest piece of radio I’ve heard in ages! Judy Garland cracks up more than the others, but even her fluffs are fun. (Although is anybody else a bit perturbed by her character being romantically involved with Frank Morgan’s character — Dorothy dating the Wizard of Oz!?!?)

    Being aimed at servicemen (and not broadcast on domestic networks), they could get away with stuff that censors would never allow at home. Hope and Garland get a rather racous laugh when she explains “I’m appealing to you on my knees!” and he leers back “You appeal to me in any position, kid.”

    I seldom re-listen to a show (in the short term) but I’m going to keep this one in the queue–it deserves a second hearing, and soon.

    Apr 23, 2009 at 11:51 am