Monday, December 5, 2016

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 5: A Christmas Story from Quiet, Please

The other day, I highlighted a Wyllis Cooper script that focused on soldiers at the end of World War I in Paris who embark on a journey similar to that of the Three Kings (Three Men from NBC's Radio City Playhouse). With this entry, we head to end of the Second World War in another Wyllis Cooper penned script in his brilliant Quiet, Please series.  (I will get some comedies soon - promise!)

Here is a link to all the previous OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get close to Christmas.

254/365/2080 (February 20, 2014) - Wintry Mix at the Ross School of Business (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) - February 20, 2014

Wintry Mix at the Ross School of Business (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
February 20, 2014

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, or Gunsmoke's 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 was a little different script used on December 26, 1948 when Quiet, Please presented a reprise of the previous year's Christmas story, Berlin, 1945.  The setting is painted in very few words at the start of the program:

Announcer: This is Christmas Day two years ago. Christmas Day, 1945, in a ruined house in Berlin, in Germany. 
Five soldiers around a table, beginning their Christmas dinner. 
Staff Sergeant John Plattner was carving.
This is pretty much all you need to know.  Five soldiers enjoying a Christmas Dinner in peace, after many years of war.  They all tell stories about Christmas past, what they have gone through, and what the holidays were like back home - like in Peoria.  The stories and food on this Christmas Day were interrupted when a displaced person, or DP, arrived.  Among the first things he said, was this: "Nothing, sir. I was just looking around. At the... destruction. It's terrible."  The stranger or displaced person, in a twist, was played by Ernest Chappell, who normally opened the show.  As the soldiers welcomed the stranger into their lives, they began to realize something special about this person.  This episode showcases Wyllis Cooper at the height of his art and should definitely shared with friends and strangers to spread the true meaning of the season.  Joining Ernest Chappel was Frank Thomas, James Goss, James Monks, Melville Ruick, Warren Stevens, and Ed Latimer as the other voice actors.  Wyllis Cooper served as the host, writer and director.  

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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