Something that I love nearly as much as classic cinema–is Old Time Radio. This has been the case since I was a pre-teen, when I started listening to recordings on albums and cassettes I first found in the public library and enjoyed over and OVER.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was a kind of strange kid. In love with the past. In my own dreamy world.
This has been a past-time that has only been helped with technology. But, sadly–I’ve not really ever been able to “share” this passion with others. It’s just not a particularly easy sell these days–the “Theater of the Mind.” Kind of lacks all of the technological bells and whistles that we are used to.
But golly. It was THE head-trip and entertainment staple of its day! And it is one that is my go-to as I commute and putter around the house. It is good listening. Good background noise. Good company.
I have so many favorites that I can share at a later time with you. But I did want to give the first shout-out to one of the best–Lux Radio Theater.
This long-running one-shour show was, of course, sponsored by Lux Soap. It consisted of an adaptation of a recent popular studio film of the day.
This truncated form is fun–the drama itself only fills 45 minutes of the show. When programs feature well-known plots, it is fun to try to see how writers made shortcuts/ommissions/additions in the script, in order to keep the format tight.
The final selling point, besides the fine acting. Most of the time the original film cast is used. It’s amazing to be able to hear different readings by the same actors of what we consider thier “classic lines.” To hear it done perhaps better, or with more feeling than was actually captured on screen. Or hearing someone flub a line. To hear an audience shout with laughter at something that wasn’t played for laughs in the film.
But truly, the most interesting apspect to me, happens when they obviously could not book the actor that originated a role. Then you have “other” actors performing roles that you had forever associated with one particular thespian. What about Jimmy Steward NOT in the “Shop Around the Corner?” or Ida Lupino as perhaps a better Charlotte Vale than Bette Davis was, in “Now Voyager?” Bizarre, huh? But rather exciting!
Of course, the shameless product plugs are priceless. A full-on commercial ad in between the 3-act dramatic structure. Using the standard marketing techniques of the day–cajoling ladies to “be fresh and dainty, to “not let themselves have *cosmetic skin* and to Lux their delicates nightly, or risk the wrath of being like those poor unfortunates who do not. (Those who, it is implied–will NEVER catch a man and find happiness without end, Amen).
The final commercial enjoyment is in listening to the featured Celebrities gush, ooh and ahh over the Fine Product. Insisting that they do not make a move in life, without its useage. Truth? Fiction? Perhaps we will never know. And isn’t that fun?
And how fun, to think of it being performed locally–at Hollywood & Vine! Priceless!
Click to listen to the Lux Theater broadcast of “It Happened One Night.”
Leaving you with a great link to stream a program for yourself. One of the Best. This is a great website to resource and explore Old Time Radio. I-Tunes has also been my go-to stop for many free Lux Radio Theater and other OTR podcasts. Indispensible for enjoying these audio treasures, on-the-go! Check it!