Memo from David O. Selznick: The Corinthian, 1943

GreatImaginaryFilm-Caine_zpsfdf9dfa1Georgette Heyer created the “Regency Romance” genre. By 1940, she had published Georgian romances and a mystery and historical novels set during the Regency period. That year, she was working on a detective novel but found herself unable to concentrate on it due to her worries about the war. Instead, she dashed off a lighthearted romance set during the Regency period. The Corinthian would set the pattern for almost two dozen subsequent Heyer works and scores of books by her imitators.

While Heyer enjoyed popular success, critics ignored her work. Despite the cinematic possibilities of her novels, which combine romance, humor, intrigue, and adventure, filmmakers ignored her as well. Only two of her works have received film treatments—The Reluctant Widow became a British film called The Inheritance (1950), and Arabella was the basis for a German film in 1959.

As soon as I read about this blogathon, I knew I wanted to give Heyer life on screen. And, since I was dreaming, I decided to dream big. Few golden-age producers were as successful at adapting books for the screen as David O. Selznick. As a child he absorbed classics like David Copperfield and Anna Karenina, which he later brought to the screen. Throughout his career, he also adapted popular contemporary works, including Portrait of Jennie, Rebecca, and—of course—Gone With the Wind.

After completing the Academy-Award-winning Rebecca, Selznick liquidated his company and took a short break from filmmaking. As Irene Mayer Selznick described in her autobiography A Private View, Selznick was battling depression and amphetamine addiction during this period and found it impossible to make a sustained effort on any picture.

In my imaginary world, however, Selznick came across Heyer’s novel and found in reading it the same diverting escape she found in writing it. Believing that the movie-going public might be ready for a similar diversion, he determined to produce it. Production took place late in 1942 for an early 1943 release.

Producing an imaginary movie has many advantages; the greatest is that you don’t have to worry about studio contracts. In casting my movie, however, I have tried to stay somewhat within the realm of possibility. I nabbed my leading man before he started military service. For my leading lady, I chose a genuine Selznick discovery, although I moved up the date of her breakthrough. For the supporting cast and production staff, I sought people with whom Selznick had previously worked.

What follows are excerpts from Selznick’s imaginary memos about this film. Selznick was a legendary memo writer. In some cases, I have re-purposed his own words from the 1972 collection Memo from David O. Selznick to serve my film’s purposes.

Note: For those unfamiliar with The Corinthian, Wikipedia provides a good plot summary and detailed list of characters.

The Property

To: Miss Katharine Brown

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

I have gone over and carefully thought about The Corinthian. I do feel that it has showmanship values, though it is a very simple and slight story compared to Gone With the Wind or Rebecca. For that reason, I have hopes that it might be simpler to film and relatively inexpensive, and the public might welcome it as an escape from the world situation. Obviously, we do not want to pay a large price for a book by an obscure author, so I would only recommend purchasing it if we can get a good bargain. If your information about Miss Heyer’s finances is correct, we should be able to do so.

The Casting

To: Mr. Daniel O’Shea*

For the role of Pen Creed, I think it is essential that we use a new face. As described by the author, the character is only 17 years old, with an innocent, open demeanor and a hint of merriment. It is essential that we cast someone with a combination of exciting beauty and fresh purity. (Another advantage to a fresh actress is that she won’t object to the haircut required for a character who disguises herself as a boy throughout most of the picture.)

Rhonda Fleming Source: Wikipedia

Rhonda Fleming
Source: Wikipedia

To: Mr. Daniel O’Shea

I am seriously considering Anne Baxter for the role of Pen. She did an excellent test for Rebecca, and the main strike against her was her youth. In The Corinthian, of course, that would be an asset. I have also considered Jennifer, but I don’t think she is the right type for this role.

We have another young woman named Rhonda Fleming under contract, and we are preparing a test for her. Since the plan is to film in Technicolor, her red hair would be an advantage, especially in the scene where Cedric Brandon recognizes her from her lock of hair. Of course, we would have to engage a dialogue coach for extensive work on her accent.

To: Mr. Daniel O’Shea

With Miss Fleming in place, the choice of a leading man with box office stature becomes critical. Heyer’s hero is a world-weary man of fashion, but he has a strong masculine presence that saves him from being a “pretty boy.” The character is about 30, and I think if we cast an actor much older than that, the pairing of him with Miss Fleming will be distasteful.

Robert Taylor Source: Wikipedia

Robert Taylor
Source: Wikipedia

Of course, the great difficulty is that most men of the right age are tied up with military service. The most perfect actor I can imagine for the role is Errol Flynn, but I don’t think this is the time to cast him in a romance with a teen-aged heroine. I’ve heard that we might be able to get Robert Taylor before he starts his service.

To: Mr. Daniel O’Shea

For the supporting characters, I think things will proceed most smoothly if we choose British actors in most cases. We should look at the actors used in Rebecca and Jane Eyre as a starting point. For the character of Lydia, it is important that we choose an actress who comes across as less mature and less clever than our heroine.

The Director

To: Mr. John Hay Whitney

In a director, we need someone with a light touch for comedy and experience with Technicolor. I wish I could use George, who has a great sense of the style of a book and of a picture and who could undoubtedly draw a good performance from Rhonda. Bill Wellman has the experience with color, but I don’t think he would be right for this picture. Someone like John Cromwell might be the safest choice, if we hold Mr. Menzies responsible for the physical aspects of the production and the final word on Technicolor issues.

The Script

To: Miss Katharine Brown

The ideal script, as far as I am concerned, would be one that contained very little original dialog. Dialog is one of the novel’s strengths, so we need a writer who will adapt it as faithfully as possible. Ben Hecht is good at conveying the mood of a novel, but I question whether he’s right because of the English atmosphere. Clemence Dane is a possibility, as is Aldous Huxley.

To: Mr. Aldous Huxley

With such a short novel, I think there is very little that can be cut without hurting the story. Certainly, the opening scene with Richard and his sister and mother should be shortened so the audience can meet the heroine more quickly. I would also recommend keeping the scenes relating to the diamond heist as short as possible. Overall, the film needs to have a brisk pace. Short scenes are at the very essence of good motion-picture making, and one of the great values that we have in this medium, by comparison with the stage.

I agree that the number of characters is high, but most are essential to the story. I don’t think we need to see the father of the Brandon brothers but can imply his character through their actions. I don’t think we need to see Pen’s intended either, which spares us the difficulty of casting a man “with a face like a fish.”

To Mr. Cromwell:

I think we must be very careful in both the script and in the reading of the lines by English actors to avoid anything which might be difficult for an American to understand—as to actual phrasing and as to dialect. This issue is most acute with Jimmy Yarde and his criminal slang. I think we should commission the script girl, or some other American, to watch this point carefully throughout the making of the picture and to call to your attention anything which she thinks is dangerous from this standpoint.

The Production and Post-Production

Beau Brummel. In the novel, he is a friend of the hero.

Beau Brummel. In the novel, he is a friend of the hero.

To: Mr. Cromwell

Regarding the wardrobe, I would like to be as historically accurate in the women’s costumes as possible, avoiding the mess MGM made of Pride and Prejudice. I trust Walter Plunkett and Rene Hubert when it comes to period costumes.

It might be wise to bring in Gile Steele to give the men’s costumes extra attention. Richard’s attention to his clothing is central to his character, but we have to make sure his costumes don’t look ridiculous to modern audiences, even if it means sacrificing some historical accuracy.

To: Max Steiner

In preparing your score, spend whatever time you have free in study of the music of the period.

To: Miss Katharine Brown

I will admit that I have had some concerns about the title, as I don’t think audiences will be familiar with the term as Heyer uses it. Any synonym I can think of, such as “dandy” or “bon vivant” has effeminate connotations we want to avoid. It will probably be best to stay with Heyer’s title and make the meaning clear in the script itself. My experience has been that if a book has succeed with a title that seems a bad picture title, picture producers are foolish to worry about it.

Cast

Richard Wyndham: Robert Taylor
Penelope Creed: Rhonda Fleming
Lord George Trevor: Robert Morley
Lady Louisa Trevor: Agnes Moorehead
Lady Aurelia Wyndham: Gladys Cooper
Melissa Brandon: Valerie Hobson
Beverley Brandon: Eric Blore
Cedric Brandon: Reginald Denny
Piers Luttrell: Hugh Marlowe
Lydia Daubenay: Joan Greenwood
Jimmy Yarde: Gordon Harker
Horace Trimble: Trevor Howard

* Executive Vice President and General Manager, David O. Selznick Productions, Inc.

Embarrassing Treasures Field Trip: The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention 2013

They had me at Margaret O’Brien.

I don’t remember what made me browse the web site for the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention earlier this year, but as soon as I saw Margaret O’Brien on the celebrity list, I ordered my tickets.

MANC takes place each fall in Baltimore. For three days, celebrities make themselves available for autograph signings and Q&A sessions; experts hold seminars on old-time radio, classic television, and classic movie topics; vendors sell movie posters, books, and other collectibles; and classic screen performances play in the Movie Room.

I’ve thought about attending before (and I really wish I’d attended in 2009, when Johnny Whitaker and one-time Family Affair guest star Lee Meriwether were guests). The chance to see my favorite child star in person stirred me into seizing the moment. It’s a sad reality that few golden-age stars remain with us, and we lose more every year.

This was the first nostalgia convention I’ve attended, and what follows is a brief, impressionistic review. Unfortunately, it lacks photos—I forgot to pack my camera, and my iPhone images didn’t turn out well.

Educational Sessions

Mornings at MANC are devoted to presentations on vintage entertainment topics. The presenters are people who’ve invested enormous time into learning about their subject. John C. Abbott, for instance, has produced an exhaustive three-volume work called The Who is Johnny Dollar? Matter about radio’s famous insurance investigator. He’s analyzed not only the remaining recorded episodes but those that exist only in script form. He can tell you everything from Johnny’s address to how many times he’s been shot.

Sally Stephens talked about Gracie Allen’s 1940 run for the presidency, a months-long joke that played out on several radio shows and in live appearances. Stephens effectively integrated radio clips into her presentation, which made her topic come alive.

Joanna Wilson gave a great presentation on TV adaptions of A Christmas Carol. I’d been eagerly anticipating this presentation for two reasons:

  • I love TV Christmas specials and episodes.
  • Wilson is a fellow Classic TV Blog Association member, and I hoped to meet her and to purchase her book, ‘Tis the Season TV.

Wilson’s presentation didn’t disappoint–her passion for her subject matter really came through, and the audience responded with similar enthusiasm. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of straight A Christmas Carol adaptations. (What does it say about me that my favorite theatrical version features the Muppets?) I still enjoyed learning about all the versions TV has produced, and I was glad that Wilson touched on many of my favorite Dickens-influenced TV episodes, including ones from The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Avengers, and Family Ties.

It was fun to meet another blogger, and I’m enjoying Wilson’s book, which I highly recommend to all Christmas TV fans.

(Be sure to read her convention recap, too–it has pictures!)

Author Gene Blottner did a presentation on film noir star Audrey Totter and made good use of clips from Totter’s career.

Garyn Roberts, a noted Ray Bradbury scholar, hosted a celebration of the author and gave another talk about Dick Tracy in popular culture.

Celebrity Appearances

As Ed Asner walked into his Q&A session, his cell phone rang. Nodding to the audience, he quipped, “It’s for you.”

This was the perfect introduction for Asner, who was as gruff, unfiltered, and entertaining as you would expect. He had high praise for many of his former co-stars, especially Ted Knight from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Nancy Marchand from Lou Grant. (He also had high praise for Marchand’s legs.) 

Johnny Crawford from The Rifleman appeared on a panel with Jeff Connors, real-life son of Rifleman star Chuck Connors. Both men recalled the elder Connors with affection. Crawford said that Connors was protective toward him on the set; no director who treated Crawford unkindly would continue working on the show.

Crawford reminisced about some of his favorite guest stars on the show, including John Anderson and Royal Dano. He especially enjoyed working with two-time guest star Sammy Davis Jr., who loved Westerns.

His favorite episodes from the show are “The Pet” and “The Sharpshooter.” (Sam Peckinpah wrote the latter’s script.)

All the talk about the show’s warm father-son dynamic inspired me to make The Rifleman a regular part of my Me-TV viewing.

Crawford also talked his experiences as a first-season Mouseketeer and joked about his crush on Karen, which Cubby thwarted.

Julie Newmar shared a Q&A session with Elizabeth Shepherd, a British actress best known for her role in 1964’s The Tomb of Ligeia, as well as her status as The Avengers‘ first Emma Peel. (Producers quickly replaced her with Diana Rigg, and the scenes that Shepherd shot for the show no longer exist.)

Newmar and Shepherd made an interesting study in contrasts. Newmar was expansive, dramatic, and occasionally random. (She sometimes interrupted Shepherd to ask her an off-the-wall question.) Shepherd was down-to-earth and good at telling stories, as when she described her perilous encounters with trained ravens during the filming of The Omen II.

Newmar said her ballet background gave her the cat-like physique that served her well in her famous Batman role. Her most challenging role was on the short-lived series My Living Doll because it was difficult to find the humanity in her robot character.

An experienced Shakespearean stage actress, Shepherd made an interesting point about theater being a burgeoning new field to the Elizabethans, as social media is to us today. She treated the MANC audience to an excellent dramatic recitation from Shakespeare.

(Note to the loud talker behind me who rarely shut his mouth throughout the Newmar and Shepherd Q&A: Not cool. Seriously. When everyone around you is glaring, it’s time to shut up.)

Margaret O’Brien exuded graciousness throughout her presentation.

She had good things to say about nearly everyone she worked with, from Charles Laughton (“He was wonderful”) to Lionel Barrymore (“He was almost like a grandfather”) to Judy Garland (“She loved children”).

She even had a good relationship with studio head Louis B. Mayer, who wanted to marry her mother, glamorous flamenco dancer Gladys Flores.

O’Brien talked again and again about the supportive, protective role her mother played in her life. Flores made sure that O’Brien got the salary she deserved for Meet Me in Saint Louis. She kept O’Brien in line during the perilous teenage years, once busting her at a nightclub after she sneaked out with Natalie Wood. She kept the child-hating Wallace Beery from stealing O’Brien’s hot lunch on the set of Bad Bascomb. (Beery seemed to be the only person in Hollywood to earn O’Brien’s ire.)

It’s apparent that her mother’s influence kept O’Brien from the pitfalls of child stardom and enabled her to simply enjoy the movie-making process.

O’Brien, who traveled to Japan in 1952 to make the movie Girls Hand in Hand, talked about the importance of travel and getting to know people from other cultures. Again, she praised the influence of her mother, who served as her role model as a strong, independent woman.

“I never feel that I can’t do something,” O’Brien said.

Autographs and Vendors

The welcoming letter in the convention program noted that some people attend only to collect autographs, while skipping all the sessions. I took the opposite approach. I’ve never been an autograph collector, and I feel awkward approaching celebrities–there’s nothing that I could say that they haven’t heard thousands of times. MANC attracts a knowledgeable crowd, so audience members covered most of the questions I would have asked during the Q&A sessions. (I did hope to ask Robert Loggia about his work with Brian Keith on Disney’s Elfego Baca, but Loggia is in frail health, and I couldn’t bring myself to bother him.)

For those who do want to collect autographs, MANC is ideal. Celebrities are available for long periods throughout the three-day conference, so lines stay short, and fans have time to chat with their favorite stars.

Vendor tables lined the main hallway leading to the seminar room. When I didn’t see anything I wanted there, I figured the spending money I brought with me was safe. On the second day, I realized that many more vendors were offering their wares on another floor. I picked up a few vintage books and magazines and a set of Dr. Doolittle paper dolls. I also bought several current books, including books about Peggy Ann Garner and 1950s live television by author Sandra Grabman, who attended the convention.

My only regret was that I didn’t find any good games for future Spin Again Sunday posts.

My overall experience at MANC was wonderful, and I would highly recommend it to all fans of vintage entertainment. The $15-a-day admission price is a small price to pay for seeing your favorite stars in person and hearing from experts on interesting topics. I hope to go again in coming years. (I definitely will if Kathy Garver appears–I’m not missing another Family Affair star!)

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Vacation, Part 2

Labor Day has come and gone, but it’s not too late to take a vacation over the old-time radio airwaves. Fairfield_Beach_Connecticut_Postcard_1930s_or_1940s

“A Vacation on the Prison Farm”
Life of Riley, June 26, 1948


“What would a bellhop want with a gun?”
Story: Cash-strapped Riley has a brilliant idea for a cheap vacation—swapping homes with a friend from out of town. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite grasp that his friend is caretaker of a prison farm.
Destination: Escudero State Prison Farm.
Wish You Were There? You’ll have to dodge some bullets, but this premise is funny enough to make it worth it.

“Vacation Time”
My Favorite Husband, April 29, 1949


“Travel is great. I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.”
About My Favorite Husband: Lucille Ball and Richard Denning starred in this 1948-1951 comedy about a happily married young couple. Three of the show’s writers–Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer—later helped to adapt the program into the TV show I Love Lucy.
Story: With different ideas about the ideal vacation, Liz and George agree to a trial run of George’s plan—camping in a trailer.
Destination: Goose Grease Lake, but they don’t quite make it.
Wish You Were There? If you enjoy the Lucille Ball movie The Long, Long Trailer, you’ll probably enjoy this, too.

“The Goosby Vacation Cottage”
The Bickersons, July 10, 1951


“I’m never able to sleep in a strange place.”
About The BickersonsDon Ameche and Frances Langford played battling John and Blanche Bickerson in the mid-1940s on the shows Drene Time, The Old Gold Hour, and The Charlie McCarthy Show. In the summer of 1951, Langford returned to the air as Blanche, with Lew Parker playing John. You probably remember Parker from his role as Ann Marie’s father on That Girl.
Story: Blanche tries to manipulate John into a rural getaway.
Destination: A vacation cottage in the country.
Wish You Were There? Nah…you’ll have a more peaceful time staying home with the cat, Nature Boy.

“Hawaiian Vacation Slogan Contest”
Duffy’s Tavern, December 28, 1951


“I like Honolulu because when I land on the island of Honolulu, I hope I land a honey that’s a lulu.”
About Duffy’s Tavern: This popular show aired for 10 years beginning in 1941; this is, in fact, its final radio episode.  Ed Gardner, who plays Archie, helped to create the series.
Story: Archie wins a slogan contest–a kiddie slogan contest.
Destination: Hawaii, but only in Archie’s dreams.
Wish You Were There? Of course–and you have a better chance of getting there than Archie does.

“Having a Horrible Time”
CBS Radio Mystery Theater, August 21, 1974


“We believe in making every minute count.”
Story: Amy, who helped convict a drug kingpin and has been getting death threats ever since, makes the brilliant decision to vacation at a “swinging singles” resort.
Destination: Tomahawk Tree Lodge in the Poconos.
Notable Performers: Lynn Loring, who plays Amy, grew up playing Patti on Search for Tomorrow, then racked up a variety of TV credits in the 1960s. During that period, her marriage to Roy Thinnes made her a fan-magazine fixture. Tony-winning actress Frances Sternhagen, who plays Lois, has appeared in many movies but is probably best known as Cliff Clavin’s mother from Cheers.
Wish You Were There? Only if you want to spend your vacation worrying about which resort guest is trying to kill you.

Other Old-Time Radio Playlists you might enjoy:

Vacation, Part 1

Summer, Part 1

Summer, Part 2

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Vacation Time, Part 1

Summer is drawing to a close, and schools are up and running in many areas. If it’s too late for you to take a vacation, you can at least enjoy virtual travel through the magic of old-time radio.

Kew_Beach_Toronto_1934Papa Wants a Vacation”
Mama Bloom’s Brood
, Unknown Date, 1934


“All work and no play makes Jake a dull boy.”
About Mama Bloom’s Brood: This pleasant 15-minute comedy serial focuses on a Jewish family with two grown daughters.
Story: Papa doesn’t want a vacation, until Mama works on him.
Destination: Yellowstone National Park.
Wish you were there? Sure, if you can tolerate Mama’s malapropisms.

“Beach House”
Baby Snooks, May 19, 1938


“A daybed’s a sofa that’s made up at night as a bed, and during the day it’s a couch, which nobody sleeps on, so a daybed is really a night bed except it’s not a bed at all.”
About Baby Snooks: Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, Fanny Brice played her famous Snooks character in variety show sketches like this one.
Story: Snooks wreaks havoc on the family’s vacation home.
Destination: The seashore, to Daddy’s chagrin.
Wish you were there? With Snooks? No way! She does $400 in damage at the vacation rental. That’s more than $6,000 in today’s money!

“Vacation from a Vacation”
Vic and Sade, August 15, 1944


“It’s the hot weather, as much as anything.”
Story: Uncle Fletcher is driving Sade crazy on his “vacation” at her home.
Destination: Three blocks away.
Wish You Were There? Maybe—but you’d probably need a vacation from Uncle Fletcher before long.

“Going to Grass Lake”
The Great Gildersleeve, September 2, 1945


“Why, I could be busy every minute if I wanted to…I just don’t want to.”
Story: The kids try to talk a reluctant Gildy into a weekend at the lake.
Historical Footnotes: The references to the war’s end and reconversion to a peacetime economy are interesting.
Destination: Grass Lake, obviously.
Wish You Were There?
Only if you have a burning desire to share Judge Hooker’s bed in a honeymoon cottage.

“Morgan Vacation Travel Bureau”
Henry Morgan, May 28, 1947


“Their slogan is, “Fellows are rarin’ to go on lovely Lake Schmoe.”
Story: In a series of sketches, the travel bureau one is the highlight.
About Henry Morgan: Morgan was edgy and irreverent by the standards of his time, and he drove sponsors crazy by making fun of their products.
Destination
: Lovely Camp Schmoe.
Wish You Were There? Sure–you get a great “cherce” of activities. I’d avoid the snake hunt, though.
Bonus Feature: In their tone, Morgan’s shows have always reminded me of early David Letterman, so I was excited to find this 1982 clip of Letterman interviewing Morgan.

Other Old-Time Radio playlists you might enjoy:

Halloween, Part 1

Halloween, Part 2

London Calling, Part 1

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 2

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

In the second part of this old-time radio playlist, we find that summer can teach us more important lessons.

Heat Wave”
Our Miss Brooks,
August 7, 1949


“Believe me, Walter, going to see Mr. Boynton is no way for me to cool off.”
Lesson Learned: When it’s really hot, wacky scheming may not be the best way to conserve your energy.
My Verdict: This show is always worth a listen. Mr. Conklin here reaches levels of indignation that test even Gale Gordon’s considerable powers of indignation-expression.

“Beautiful Summer in Newport”
NBC Short Story, April 18, 1951


“Fraulein beats me.”
Based Upon: A story by Felicia Gizycka, whose own incredible story included being kidnapped by her father, a Polish count.
Lesson Learned: Vet your summer child care providers very carefully.
Notable Performers: Anne Whitfield, a busy child actress in radio, plays the lead role. If you’re like me, you know her best as Susan, the general’s niece, in the movie White Christmas.
My Verdict: This story has some disturbing scenes, as a governess hired by a social-climbing aunt abuses the woman’s young nieces. Hey, announcer: You didn’t really have to tell us that the word “Beautiful” is used ironically.

“Summer and Smoke”
Best Plays, May 22, 1953


“He told me about the wonderful talks he had with you last summer, when he was so mixed up.”
Based Upon: The 1948 play by Tennessee Williams.
Lesson Learned: Try to avoid being a character in a Tennessee Williams play.
About Best Plays: From 1952 to 1953, this show delivered just what its title promised, with notable stage actors in its cast.
Notable Performers: Geraldine Page plays frustrated, fragile Alma, as she did in the play’s highly successful 1952 New York revival. Page also played the role in the 1961 movie, earning an Academy Award nomination. Richard Kiley, who plays John, created the role of Don Quixote in the 1965 musical Man of La Mancha.
My Verdict: Page’s performance is outstanding—its preservation for us is one of the wonders of old-time radio.
Bonus Feature: Here’s the theatrical trailer for the movie.

“Summer Replacement”
Family Theater, December 1, 1954


“I have a feeling the ‘defender of justice’ is in for a bad half-hour.”
Lesson Learned: Age and experience can triumph over youth and beauty in the world of entertainment. (Disclaimer: This lesson may not apply in real life.)
Notable Performers: Una Merkel plays a radio performer whose long-time role is given to a younger actress when the show transitions to TV. (In a coincidence involving our previous recording, Merkel appeared with Page in the movie Summer and Smoke, and she also earned an Oscar nomination.) Desi Arnaz hosts this episode of Family Theater.
My Verdict: This is a sprightly script, and Merkel conveys plenty of charm. I like the way her character wants to continue working even after landing a rich husband—and the husband is okay with that.

“Summer Song”
Romance, July 2, 1955


“I always forget the rules.”
Lesson Learned: Rich girls are easy.
About Romance: This dramatic anthology show ran in many different incarnations from 1943 to 1957. The 1950s episodes, produced by many of the same creative minds as Gunsmoke, are quite entertaining.
Story: Country club lifeguard Scott knows he shouldn’t fraternize with the guests, but seductive Dana makes his life difficult.
My Verdict: Dana is sexually aggressive to a shocking degree for a 1950s show. “Summer Skank” would be a more accurate title.

Other Old-Time Radio Playlists You Might Enjoy:

Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

London Calling, Part 1

Christmas, Part 6

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Summer, Part 1 (With Golden Age TV Bonus)

14965921-vintage-summer-postcard-vector-illustrationIt’s summertime and school’s out, but you can still learn some valuable lessons from these summer-themed old-time radio shows.

The June House Party”
Love Story,
August 6, 1937


“Randy’s a blooming idiot.”
Lesson Learned: What to do when he’s not that into you? Have you tried staging a mock wedding that turns out to be real? Apparently, it works wonders.
About Love Story: This short-lived series drew its stories from the pages of Love Story Magazine, a weekly romance pulp with an interesting history.
My Verdict: This makes for an amusing 15 minutes, though not for the reasons its creators intended.

“Summer Thunder”
The Whistler, July 30, 1945


“This blasted heat’s getting on my nerves.”
Lesson Learned: Make sure your husband has actually committed murder before you start trying to obstruct justice for him.
My Verdict: The acting is stagy, but this is a well-constructed mystery, with appropriate red herrings.

“Summer Storm”
Suspense, October 18, 1945


“All fat men aren’t good natured.”
Lesson Learned: Talking to yourself a lot? There is something odd about that.
Notable Performers: Henry Fonda’s naturally calm persona makes a nice contrast with the role he is playing, that of a man slowly cracking up.
My Verdict: I didn’t see the ending twist coming.

“Sometime Every Summertime”
Studio One, March 9, 1928


“What is it they say about summer romances?”
Lesson Learned: Summer loves grow cold in the fall. Sniff. (Alternate lesson: Advertising guys are kind of jerks.)
About Studio One: Fletcher Markle directed this short-lived anthology series that dramatized novels and plays.
Notable Performers: Burgess Meredith plays Clem, an ad man whose vacation romance with a young woman from a different social class is recounted from three perspectives—his friend’s, the woman’s, and his own.
My Verdict: This script by Markle was first produced on Columbia Workshop in 1946, then made the rounds of other anthology shows. Its popularity was well deserved; this is an understated, authentically human story with no corny elements.
Bonus Feature: This script was also produced for TV, in a 1953 production starring Dorothy McGuire.

“Going on a Picnic”
Archie Andrews, August 21, 1948


“I sure didn’t expect to get undressed on a picnic.”
Lesson Learned: Don’t go on a picnic with Archie and Jughead. Just don’t.
My Verdict: A mildly amusing episode of this silly series. Are there ants at this picnic? Yep…plus cows, skunks, and snapping turtles.
Celebrity Name-Droppings: Jughead mentions Elsie the Cow, symbol of Borden Dairy since 1936.

Other Old-Time Radio playlists you might enjoy:

Happy New Year, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe, Part 1

Till Death Do Us Part

Weird Words of Wisdom: Clean, Humorous, and Sprightly Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom is back, bringing you more sage advice from vintage teenage advice manuals!

“Have the greatest of respect for girls. Some will lose their heads and be foolish at times. Retain your poise and judgment and keep them in their place.”

Advice for Boys, 1947 (1954 printing)
By the Rev. T.C. Siekmann

About This Book and Its Author: Advice for Boys offers exactly what its title promises. The Reverend Theodore C. Siekmann was a Catholic priest, so much of the book deals with specifically Catholic topics—the Mass, the rosary, and sainthood. Fortunately for us, Siekmann includes a smattering of weird advice on more typical teenage preoccupations.

I haven’t been able to find much information about the Rev. Siekmann. He served at St. Joseph Church in Prairie Du Rocher, Illinois, from 1956 to 1968, and at St. Luke’s in Belleville, Illinois, from 1968 until retirement in 1982. He also did missionary work in Guatemala.

His book’s jacket indicates that he taught physical education and served as a sports coach as well as a religious educator. This background may explain his touching faith in athletics’ ability to keep people out of trouble. (Ask Aaron Hernandez how that’s working for him.)

Siekmann also wrote a book for girls. I haven’t been able to get my hands on it, but it sounds awesome.

Quotes from Advice for Boys

“If you are not happy, then something is wrong with you.”

“Athletics is good, very good…When you are all absorbed in a game, you think of nothing else, you want nothing else. Evil can wait.”

“Say a word of appreciation to your mother occasionally. Compliment her on her pie or cake. Praise the roast. Notice and mention the neat ironing she does for you.”

“At all times there is a supply of current slang expressions that are clean, humorous, and sprightly. A sprinkling of these innocent phrases will add zest to your conversation, without giving offense.”

“One girl among your present acquaintances may be yours till death. At any rate, she will probably be someone’s wife. Treat her even now as God’s noble gift to man, as a mother-to-be. Protect her virtue; guard her innocence. Keep her good for her future husband, whether it is you or Jack or Jim.”

“Personality may be summarized by three words: truth, cleanliness, and a smile.”

“When a room is cold, do not complain. Suffer it in a spirit of mortification. When the summer is hot and humid, smile and bear it for God. When you do not like food, do not complain.”

“Raising chickens is a fine hobby, and supplies fresh eggs for the table. If the location of your home permits, you might raise rabbits, pheasants or foxes, or other fur-bearing animals. All this will be at a considerable profit, in addition to the wholesome enjoyment which you will derive from your activity.”

On becoming a priest: “In short, almost all that you need to do is to enter a seminary and be willing to do what you are told.”

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Mugging, Smooching, and Flinging the Woo Edition

Embracing our Nature and Destiny Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition