April 25, 2011

Aural pleasure

Tired of what's on your iPod? Craving something new for your boring workdays or commute? If you meet that criteria AND consider yourself a fan of classic Hollywood, then I have a solution for you.

Having exhausted my music library while working at my data entry job, I thought I'd try to find some old-timey radio shows streaming online. The results fall into two basic categories - narrative shows and variety. The narrative shows can be a lot of fun too (frequently adaptation of popular movies, often with the original stars), but today I'm really into a variety show called Command Performance.

It appears to have been a wartime show that ran in the 40s, and was transmitted directly to troops overseas. There was no regular host - the hosts and guests were "nominated" every week by the requests of servicemen (although a small batch of usual suspects tended to dominate hosting duties). The roster of talent is a who's who of the era - Crosby, Hope, Garland, Sinatra, Bogart, Bacall, you name it. Although some of the humor hasn't aged so well, it's surprising how much of it has. It's great to hear these stars letting loose and ripping on each other - I learned, for instance, that Frank Sinatra's small build was a source of great amusement among his peers (seriously, every episode he was on was a merciless assault on his manliness).  Even though the shows are scripted, the constant teasing, giggling, and in-jokes of the stars makes you feel like a fly on the wall at a Hollywood party.

Listen in here or here, or download episodes via iTunes.  (Note: some of the shows seem to consist almost entirely of musical performances, so you may have to shuffle around a bit.)

This discovery has definitely brightened my Monday. And if that wasn't enough, apparently one of their special episodes was an hourlong musical adaptation of Dick Tracy! Enjoy!


b said...

thanks for the links! got really into Gunsmoke and Dragnet radio shows over the summer, and these movie adaptations sound great. also, i would love to hear stars rip on sinatra

Julie said...

Oh man, they just rip him a new asshole every time. I kept thinking that Future Mob Sinatra would never stand for this treatment. But once upon a time, he was just a scrawny kid from Hoboken.