This is the fifth part of my Christmas OTR playlist. I’ll be posting more episodes each Tuesday and Thursday until Christmas.
“Christmas by Injunction”
Author’s Playhouse, December 21, 1941
“To think, that the voice of childhood has never gladdened our city…the patter of restless little feet never consecrated its streets…and nowhere in Yellowhammer are there roguish, expectant eyes ready to open wide at dawn of the enchanting day…eager, tiny hands to reach for Santa’s bewildering array of gifts…elated, childish voicings of the season’s joy.”
Story: This is based on a short story by O. Henry, with a typical surprise ending. Cherokee, a prospector who has struck gold, is planning a Christmas visit to his old friends in a mining camp called Yellowhammer. He’s bringing toys and is ready to play Santa for all the town’s kids. Sadly, the town doesn’t have any. The civic leaders try to borrow some, only to find that parents are reluctant to part with their kids at Christmas. They end up with one cynical kid and things look bleak, until Cherokee and the child discover a deeper connection than anyone imagined.
About Author’s Playhouse: This series, which dramatized literary stories, ran from 1941 to 1945.
Musical Notes: The Author’s Playhouse theme is from Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony; the same piece of music is the melody for Eric Carmen’s 1976 hit “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again.”
My Verdict: This is an entertaining story, and it’s stylized language works to good comic effect.
“Trimming a Tree”
The Jack Benny Program, December 24, 1944
“Those lights were so pretty–especially those two blue ones that kept flashing on and off.”
Story: Jack has an electrifying time getting ready for a Christmas Eve gathering at his house.
Musical Notes: Larry Stevens sings “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.” Rochester makes one of his recurring references to “Blues in the Night.”
My Verdict: A typically enjoyable Christmas episode, with lots of good banter among Jack, Mary, and Rochester.
“Three Wise Guys”
The Whistler, December 24, 1950
“I got a bad case of memories tonight.”
Story: Damon Runyon meets the nativity story in a tale of redemption.
My Verdict: This is an unusual story for The Whistler, but a satisfying one for Christmas eve.
“The Missing Mouse Matter”
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
“Now I have seen everything.”
Story: Johnny has to find a missing mouse who’s been insured for $5,000. Why insure a mouse? He sings!
About Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: This show about “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator” was the last drama standing when network radio came to its end in 1962. Launched in 1948, it went through several format changes and seven actors as Johnny Dollar. Bob Bailey, who plays the part here, is widely considered the best.
Musical Notes: Gulliver the mouse sings “Jingle Bells.”
My Verdict: As Christmas episodes go, this one certainly gets points for originality. The ending hits just the right whimsical note.