Monday, December 29, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 29 - Hotpoint's The Man Who Came to Dinner (with Jack Benny)

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Yeah, yeah, yeah....its 25 days...and yet here is day 29.  Day 29 is for Hotpoint's The Man Who Came to Dinner (with Jack Benny).  I enjoyed it when I heard it the first time, you can see below that I might not have been in the majority opinion.

And with this, I will wrap up the OTR Christmas Series. Here is a link to all the entries.  But tomorrow, Wednesday and on New Year's Day, I will have entries about the changing of the calendar!  Then slow things down...not sure I could do one every day!

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). I heard this for the first time on Greg Bell's XM 82 and always love the variety he plays.  He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

158/365/1619 (November 16, 2012) - The Man Who Came to Dinner  (Saline High School, November 16, 2012)

The Man Who Came to Dinner - Saline (Michigan) High School - November 16, 2012

The Man Who Came to Dinner is one of the most well known theatrical comedies from the first half of the 20th Century.  It was written in 1939 by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and adapted into a movie in 1942 starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Monty Woolley.  The story involves the visit of a noted New York critic to the house of a small town businessman in Ohio just before the holidays.  When the critic (Sheridan Whiteside) slips on ice outside the businessman's house, he becomes laid up there and a not so welcome house guest.  The show had an all-star cast performed by the "The Actor's Company" and sponsored by Hotpoint, the appliance manufacturer.  The amazing cast was directed by Mel Ferrer and featured Jack Benny (as Sheridan Whiteside), Charles Boyer, Gene Kelly (as Banjo), Dorothy McGuire, Gregory Peck, Rosalind Russell, Willard Waterman, and Henry Fonda as the narrator.

And while I enjoyed the recording, the people at Variety (the entertainment weekly newspaper) were not as impressed.  In their review of the performance on December 28, 1949 (page 26), they wrote:

A flock of film names may make an impressive radio draw, but not necessarily a good air show.  this was demonstrated anew Sunday (25), when for its Xmas Day celebration, Hotpoint offered the Actors' Co. of Hollywood with a star-studded cast in an hour-long adaptation of the Kaufman-Hart stage comedy, "The Man Who Came to Dinner."  Probably few air shows have had such a galaxy of names running through it in lead, characters or bit parts.  Bit it didn't come off.  Trouble wasn't with the play, which is still fun and sharp satire after years of presentation.  Fault lay in the adaptation and especially in the performances.  With few exceptions, filmites lacked the legit feel, and the opus sounded lifeless and flat.

While they did not like Jack Benny's performance, they did give them props for this:

Some of the new business was good, as when Benny got a wire from Monty Woolley (play played the role originally on Broadway), and Benny refused to read the telegram, merely emitting a revelatory "Oh, well."

There were no other performances I could find of the Hotpoint Holiday Hour.  Like many specials, it had a short life.  But this is a fun recording and interesting to hear some of the biggest names in Hollywood on the air.

The Man Who Came to Dinner (Hotpoint Holiday Hour - December 25, 1949)

Here are some links to programs relating to Jack Benny:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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