Monday, December 18, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 18: The Bishop's Wife on Lux Radio Theater (1949)

Recently on TCM, I was able to see The Bishop's Wife, the great 1947 film starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven.  This is a great Christmas movie that features the Bishop, played by David Niven, struggling between the needs of the poor people in his community and his desire to build a grand new cathedral, especially with a sufficiently grand chapel to honor a local donor.  That is where Cary Grant comes in - as Dudley, the angel who comes down to help the Bishop find his way.  And its not about building a cathedral - but showing him the way to his true calling.  This great movie was dramatized on the Lux Radio Theater, a great way for people to relives movies after they left the theater.  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.

If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148). It is particularly good this week with all Christmas themed programs.  Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City) - February 16, 2017

St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City) - February 16, 2017

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.

On three occasions, the Lux Radio Theater broadcast a radio adaptation of the 1947 movie The Bishop's Wife.  The first time was December 19th, 1949.  While David Niven was part of the broadcast in 1949, his co-stars Cary Grant and Loretta Young were not able to be there for the program.  Host William Keighley introduced the show this way:

Greetings from Hollywood, ladies and gentlemen. Home again, after an absence of a year and a half, is one of America's favorite stars, and he's here tonight to lend an extra thrill to our holiday season. I mean, of course, Tyrone Power, who joins David Niven and Jane Greer in our Christmas present to you, the delightful play, "The Bishop's Wife." Samuel Goldwyn's fine and sensitive screen production won your hearts as well as your applause. And those who saw the picture will have a special welcome tonight for David Niven, who plays his original screen role as the bishop.

I'm sure most of you are quite busy these days with last-minute shopping and getting the house in order for the holidays, a time of year when you'll need plenty of -- Lux Flakes. In fact, there's a most unusual holiday use for Lux Flakes -- on your Christmas tree -- which we'll tell you about later.

Now, the curtain for Act One of "The Bishop's Wife," starring Tyrone Power as Dudley, David Niven as the bishop, and Jane Greer as Julia.

As much as I love Cary Grant - I guess Tyrone Power is a pretty good pinch-hitter.  Also joining the stars for the hour-long broadcast were Willard Waterman, Eleanor Audley, Frances Robinson, William Johnstone, Gilbert Barnett, Philip Tead, Noreen Gammill, Anne Whitfield, Howard McNear, Edward Marr, and Alan Reed Jr.  Mary Wills, a fashion designer for Goldwyn, served as the  intermission guest.  Twice again, Lux Radio Theater showcased this movie.  Those two performances were on May 11, 1953 and March 1, 1955.  Both of these performances has something the 1949 performance did NOT have - and that would be Cary Grant.

The Bishop's Wife (December 19, 1949)
Script (from Generic Radio Workshop)

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

        Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

        25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

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

        25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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