Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - Captain January on Lux Radio Theater (1941 & 1946)

Here is the fifth entry in my Lighthouses on Old Time Radio series.  With the Oscars broadcast next Sunday, it seems like the perfect time to showcase one of the great radio series of all times.  Also, one of the two broadcasts showcased here was first heard over the air 69 years ago today on February 18, 1946.

The Lux Radio Theater was a long-running series that brought the movies to homes in the years before television, VCRs, DVDs, and streaming services.  The series ran on the NBC Blue (later ABC), CBS and NBC from 1934 through 1955.  The vast majority of time was on the CBS Radio Network including the two episodes featured today.  No matter what network it aired over, it was where the stars came to radio.  It was also where the stars came home to America.

The Lux Radio Theater was an hour-long weekly show that originally provided adaptations of books and Broadway plays.  In 1936, the program changed by providing adaptations of the best motion pictures in theaters across America.  The adaptations would normally be on the Lux Radio Theater a few years after the theatrical release.  When possible, the original cast was used for the broadcast. And when the original actors were not available, a who's who of radio actors were called to the microphone.  The hosts for the show were Anthony Stanford (1934-1935), Cecil B. DeMille (1935-1945), William Keighley (1945-1951), and Irving Cummings (1951-1955).   Of these great hosts, Cecil B. DeMille (or C.B.) is one of the greats of the early days of motion pictures and added a sense of respectability to the show.  The show was sponsored by Lux Soap and recorded in front of a live audience.  At the end of the show, the stars always chatted with the host, often about the inside world of Hollywood.

With the quick ability for people to get movies in many different formats from physical media to streaming, it is amazing to think about a time when the movies were a special experience that primarily took place in the theater.  Shows like the Lux Radio Theater enabled listeners all across the country, and the world through the Armed Forces Radio Service, to relive the movies with the stars that made them great.

Point Montara Lighthouse (Montara, California)

Point Montara Lighthouse (Montara, California) - April 22, 2013

On two occasions, the Lux Radio Theater broadcast a radio adaptation of the 1936 ,movie Captain January.  Both of these were when they were on the CBS Network.  The movie was based on the Laura Richards 1890 story, The Lighthouse at Cape Tempest.  The movie stars Shirley Temple in one of her most famous roles.  She plays Star, a girl who, as a baby, survives a shipwreck.  Sadly, in the same wreck, she lost her mother.  All she had from her mother was a locket.  The ship washed ashore near a lighthouse during a storm.  Captain January, who worked as the lighthouse keeper and was played by Guy Kibbee, offers to take the girl in as her own.  She was raised learning the ways of the sea and how a lighthouse works.  When it is noticed that she is not going to school, they question her upbringing.  But in the end, the precocious young Star impresses everyone with her knowledge and smarts, especially as it relates to shipping and lighthouse life.  And while the Captain was all the family she needed, she found out that he had more relatives that she thought.  The movie also starred Buddy Ebsen and he sang, with Shirley Temple, the song "At the Codfish Ball."  Captain January is a sweet movie and it translates very well to radio.  A great lighthouse themed program for this series.

The first broadcast of Captain January aired on January 27, 1941 and starred Shirley Temple in the role she created five years earlier.  Also starrting in the movie was Charles Winniger as Captain January and other actors including Gene Lockhart, Bob Burleson, Bobby Winkler, Charles Seel, Duane Thompson, Earle Ross, Griff Barnett, and others.

Captain January (January 27, 1941)

The second broadcast of Captain January aired on February 18, 1946 (69 years ago today).  Taking the role of Star was Margaret O'Brien, one of the leading child actors on radio.  Radio legend Lionel Barrymore plays Captain January.  Also in the cast are Cliff Clark, Griff Barnett, Duane Thompson, Noreen Gammill, Tommy Cook, and Howard McNear, McNear is another radio legend who was a staple of CBS broadcasts.  Most famously, he played Doc on Gunsmoke.

Captain January (February 18, 1946)

Please enjoy these great episodes.  This is a real treat and a great way to continue my Lighthouse Old Time Radio series.  I will have another entry in about a week!

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Lux Radio Theater:
Lighthouses on Old Time Radio:

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