Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve on Old Time Radio - Quiet, Please & Rain on New Year's Eve (1947)

After working on highlighting Christmas Old Time Radio episodes for the month, I thought I would close out the year with a few focused on New Year's Eve.  In the new year, I will try to get one entry out a week - maybe two.  As you all know by now, I do love listening to Old Time Radio and enjoy that it is available on XM 82 and many resources via the Internet.

Rainy day on Campus

Rainy Day at the University of Michigan - 2008

Quiet, Please was the brain child of Wyllis Cooper, one of the most creative and leading artists on the air.  Cooper and Arch Obler both worked on the great series Lights Out.  Quiet, Please is one of the most creative and unique shows out there.  It ran on the Mutual Network from 1947 to 1948, and then one year on the new ABC Network (the successor to the NBC Blue Network).  Each episode starts with star Ernest Chappell saying "Quiet, Please."  After a few seconds, he repeats that phrase.  Then, a piano plays the second movement of Cesar Franck's Symphony in D Minor - the haunting music that serves as the theme of the show.  Star Ernest Chappell then provides the introduction to the story, and seamlessly opens the story as the main character.  There is a point when Chappell moves from monologue to dialogue - and with that, the lights turn on and the story begins.

It is really one of the most unique shows on the air.  In so many radio series, we can anticipate where the character is going to go based on what we know of him or her.  Be it The Saint, Boston Blackie, Marshall Dillon, or any other regular character, we have a sense of what they are like and what they might do.  But when Ernest Chappell starts an episode of Quiet, Please, we have no idea where he is going to take us.

There have been many great episodes here.  I want to write about the Camera Obscura, a great murder mystery and a seaside attraction that sees all.  But the episode that relates to New Year's Day is Rain on New Year's Eve (December 29, 1947).  This is a typical story in this series, and by that, I mean quiet excellent!

Chappell plays Ramsey, a screen writer working on a B-quality horror film that is still trying to find itself weeks after they were supposed to wrap up filming.  This is how the story opens (from the Quietly Your site):

RAMSEY: It's raining again. Pretty near New Year's and it's raining again. Back east, it's probably snowing different places. Or maybe the moon's out, shining on the snow and people are saying, "Why, it's so bright out you could read a newspaper!" Ya can't read a newspaper by moonlight. Only the headlines. Maybe if you take your newspaper out in the yard and stand in the moonlight, you light find a headline with my name in it. It's been there before. Well, anyway, so there's moonlight. Here, there's rain -- like it was that other New Year's Eve. That's what the rain makes me think of, as if I ever thought of anything else. (MUSIC ... AN ACCENT, THEN IMITATES RAIN UNDER)

RAMSEY: Listen to the rain. [chuckles quietly] I was sitting in my office in the writers' court out there after we'd been on the picture for two or three months. Writing it, that is. They'd been shooting for about three weeks but I was still on the picture because we had a producer that couldn't make up his mind and the director was one of those guys, uh, sort of road company Hitchcock, you know? He makes the picture up as he goes along. Only there has to be a writer filed away someplace where he can find him when he runs out of ideas - which is not more than eleven times a day. So I'm dying. I go on the set and I find actors there I never heard of speaking lines I never wrote in scenes I couldn't figure out. Then the director'd get me in a corner and put the arm on me: [imitates the director] "This thing doesn't seem to quite gel, old man. You know?" And me and my little typewriter go to work to unscrew things while the overtime and the gin rummy games go right on. [chuckles] Great life, that.
Well, so I'm sittin' in my office and the rain is on the roof and the gas heater is frying my ankles while the draft from the window is giving my neck the deep freeze. Mary Lou, my secretary, comes in from her little cubbyhole next to mine.

So the screen writer needs to tweak his monster.  Maybe there is something that only happens on New Year's Eve.  Maybe there is something about the face of a monster.  Maybe the monster is in within.

Please enjoy this New Year's Eve treat from Quiet Please:
Here are some links to programs relating to Quiet, Please:

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