Variety (December 1952)

Record Details:

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28 RADIO REVIEWS ;wmEft Wednesday, December 17, 1952 HERITAGE! With Gregory Morton, others; Charles Irvin*, narrator; Ralph Norman, music producer - director: Sherman H. Dryer Script: Paul Milton 30 Mins.; Thurs., 8:30 p.m. Sustaining ABC, from New York “Heritage!” latches on to an am- bitious theme in its attempt to ex- ploit the culture contributed by the Western mind from the Mid- dle Ages to the present. Series has the guidance of Life magazine and is based on latter’s “Picture History of Western Man” which was assembled in collab with scholars and educators and which created quite a stir when published not long ago. This being the open-' season on Leonardo da Vinci (pix-TV), this preem highlighted the carper of the 15th (and 16th) Century genius whose inventions, at least, have not yet been claimed by the Soviet Russians, as far as is known on this side of the ferrous drapery. The da Vinci saga, as given here, has been culled by scripter Paul Milton from standard works, pre- sumably, with nothing new or startling in the unfolding save per- haps setting up the Florentine as a genial sort of braggart (uninten- tional, no doubt). ' Against a. large and often jumpy canvas of the great man’s works, the attempted docu- mentary, sounding mighty lak a piece of made-up drama, emerged as a minor triumph via the power- W 'narration f "6t Chads’“ Irving, punctuated and bridged with su- perb music batoned by Ralph Nor- man and enlisting the ABC Sym- phony Orchestra. Whether a listener got the idea that Leonardo was a key architect of the High Renaissance in his mulndexterous role as , painter, sculptor, inventor, engineer, schol- ar and scientist,' is something else again. Midway there was a side- piece, revolving around an Italo pageant, with folk songs and such, plus quotes from Shakespeare, which appeared to accentuate part of the series’ overall objective— “the age of the individual had ar- rived.” The fore and aft portions traced Leonardo as a nonpareil; his opera- tions under the patronage of Sforza, Louis XII and Cesare Borgia in Milan; his macabre slant on the painting of The Madonna; his failures with The Flying Ma- chine: his pre-Coppernicus and pre-Newton theories on the sun, earth and gravity; and, of course, the epic of his Portrait of a Woman (Mona Lisa). That Leonardo was also of illegitimate birth, that he painted Last Supper and Adora- tion of the Kings, and that he once competed in a contest with Michel- angelo on a design for the great hall of Palazzo Vecchio, was not encompassed in the necessarily limited segment. • In a speech at the finish, Greg- ory Morton, playing Leonardo, said, in effect, that all good things come from labor. This is a con- cept that will undoubtedly serve as a recurring point in a lofty series where much of the stress, judged from the bow, will' be on 'providing an entertainment frame- work to better display five cen- turies or so of Western culture. Trau. THE WAYS OF MANKIND (A Word In Your Ear) With Prof. Walter Goldschmidt, others Writer: Lister Sinclair Producer-director: Andrew Allan 30 Mins., Sun., 1p.m. Sustaining WNYC, N.Y. This is the second series put on within two weeks by the National Assn, of Educational Broadcasters, through the assistance of the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Edu- cation, and WNYC should be (and probably is) proud to present it. Together with last week’s “People Under Communism” series, this presentation, if nothing else, is eloquent rebuttal to the short- sighted civic official who suggested that WNYC could be eliminated from Gotham broadcasting as an economy move. The station that carries such programming is a boon to a community. As for itself, “The Ways of Man- kind” is a 13-week, half-hour se- ries, exploring the origin and de- velopment of customs and folk- ways in various parts of the world, with the idea of helping people to get along with each other by bet- ter understanding each other. It’s an intriguing, adult series, judged by Sunday's (14) opener. This program, titled “A Word In Your Ear,” was a study of lan- guages and words as they affect peoples, cultures, intercourse, be- havior, etc. Language reflects cul- ture, was the thflflq,, Tfoe^ograpi went on to expound this by in- stances of differences in speech; by differences in application of words in various tongues and lands. Ex- amples of meanings of words to the Eskimo, the Arab, the Indian, the Chaucerian Englishman, were given. There were oddities listed in usage of words by various peo- ples. Instead of this being boring or pedantic, the half-hour was fasci- nating, a serious subject being han- dled lightly, imaginatively and wit- tily. Prof. Walter Goldschmidt, of the U. of California, who super- vised the series, closed the airer with a discussion of language’s ‘subtle but pervasive instinct in culture.” showing how we can share the experience of other peo- ples, other times, other places, hrough a study of words. Studies in education, ethics, re- igion, authority, technology, art, the family, are to follow in this series. Their genesis, preparation and production, if Sunday’s show is a guide, was an inspiration. Bron , Radio Followups REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS With Eleanor Roosevelt, narrator Producer: Oscar Rose 30 Mins.; Wed. (10), 9:30 p.m. Sustaining WOR, N. Y. Marking the fourth anni of the adoption of the “United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights,” UN’s radio division produced this commemorative documentary for airing throughout the U. S., Can- ada and other British Common- wealth territories. With Eleanor Roosevelt handling the commen- tary,- this show featured taped in- terviews with an impressive roster of statesmen from countries which have signed the Declaration. As with other official UN pro- grams, however, there was an ob- vious ceremonial quality about this show and an equally obvious avoid- ance of all delicate or controver- sial questions. As a glaring ex- ample, there was no representative of any Soviet-dominated country in the documentary and this omis- sion, which should have aroused some curiosity, and cloaked in to tal silence. This w r as safer, per- haps. but also less interesting. The show’s effort to give the Declaration some vital significance was not particularly imaginative or convincing. UN reps from some dozen countries, including Israel Lebanon, Indonesia, Haiti and ohers, told of the impact of the document in their areas. There was little deviation from a pat op- timism in all of the interviews which didn’t exactly correspond with the current state of the world. Like the UN itself, this show demonstrated well-intentioned ob- jectives without showing how they can be attained. Jtierm. WORLD OF SOUND With Helen Parkhurst Producer: Bill Kaland 35 Mins.; Ston. 4:35 p.m. Sustaining WNEW, N. Y. Presented in cooperation with the N. Y. Institute for the Educa- tion of the Blind, the “World of Sound” gives a fascinating insight into the technique of educating sightless youngsters. It’s a first- rate public service feature which combines a pitch for support of the N. Y. Institute with an atten- tion-getting, program idea. Format for each show in this series is based on imaginary trips taken by a group of blind children under the leadership of Helen Parkhurst, child educator. WNEW’s sound technicians supply all the sounds incidental to the trip and the show simply covers the kids’ spontaneous reactions and obser- vations. On the preem (14), the children were “taken” on a picnic to a New Jersey farm via sounds of trains, etc. The children joined in the picnic atmosphere with infec- tious enthusiasm and their com- ments gave life to the studio-sim- ulated “world of sound.” Miss Parkhurst handled the kids witli natural tact and sympathy. Although there is an underlying pathos in this show, there is noth- ing maudlin about it and it shapes up as a consistently listenable half- hour session. llerm. In a striking switch in mood j from last week’s initial program on WNYC’s “People Under Commu- nism,” which dealt with the grue- some activities and repressions of the secret Soviet police, Sunday s (14) second full-hour segment, “Music to Order,” discussed the artistic degradation of first-rank Soviet composers writing music o a party line. The program was lighter, gayer and in many ways more appealing —but in no way less impressive or important—than the first one. It was another illuminating chapter in this vital, adult series, prepared by the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Adult Education, to show the power and intentions of the Soviet Union so that we may be on the alert against them. Format was panel-like, with Dr. Ernest J. Simmons of Columbia, who prepared the program, acting as moderator, and composers Deems Taylor and Henry Cowell, and musicologist Nicolos Slonim- sky, as his. guests. Subject-matter mainly concerned itself with the famed 1948 decree of the Soviet Central Committee denouncing “formalism” and western bourgeois tendencies in Soviet music, and the effect of this resolution on the Big Four in Soviet music—Shos- takovich,' Prokofieff, Khachaturian and Miaskovsky. Panel discussed variations in Soviet policy, changes in music, effect of party interference, etc. Slonimsky was the most-informed and most voluble, even playing dif- ferent music snatches at times to buttress his remarks. Prof. Sim- mons played from various com- posers’ works and read official So viet proclamations, to give point to the discussion. It was pointed out that though Shosty and Khacha miserably recanted against the tendency of “formalism” (having form only, and lacking in content) in their music, Prokofieff didn’t recant completely. Prof. Simmons showed how de- structive Soviet controls had be- come, and how musical composition' had deteriorated. He played bits from Shosty’s oratorio, “Song of the Forest,” written after 1948. Slonimsky thought it did violence to Shosty’s musical integrity; Cow- ell thought “wicked western influ- ences” were still present; Taylor said that Shosty's musical future was now in his past. Prof. Simmons offered bits from Shosty’s Seventh (“Leningrad”) Symphony, hailed at first as great music, denounced later as devia- tionary. Panel discussed its merits. And so the give-and-take went, for an hour of fascinating, revealing talk. Bron. IT’S ALL YOURS With Jimmy Logan, Stanley Bax ter, BBC Scot Variety Orch Producer: Eddie Fraser 30 Mins.; Mon., 7 p.m. BBC, from Glasgow In “It’s All Yours,” which keeps high listening figure with dialers, the web has a fairly good vaude session. It gives full scope to young Scot comic Jimmy Logan and Stanley Baxter, but makes too much play of too many catch phrases, majority being of mild humor value. Logan, as well as being the com- edy spark of the segment, proved pleasant bailadeer in “Tonight’s the Night.” Stanley Baxter's Glas- gow dialog was clever but tire- some. Margaret MacDonald, tal ented nightingale, scored in sing- ing “I’m in Love with a Wonder ful Guy,” while Six in Accord were a welcome harmony group. Kemlo Stephen’s orch provided good backing. Gord. GRAND CENTRAL STATION (The Girl In Room 1806) With Lenka Peterson, Anthony Randall, Audrey Christie, Ruth McDevitt, Gavin Gordon, Chester Stratton; Ken Roberts, narrator Producer: Martin Horrell Director: Ira Ashley Writer: Elaine McMahon 25 Mins., Sat,, 11:05 a.m. CREAM OF WHEAT CBS, from New York (BBD&O) After a brief hiatus, “Grand Central Station,” 15-yea‘r old drama j series, returned to the CBS airlanes with a neat script thesped by a slick cast of legit performers. Blending of above average drama and a topflight cast has been “GCS’s” trademark during its long radio run and “The Girl In Room 1806,” which teed off the series Saturday morning (13) indicates that producer Martin Horrell and director Ira Ashley are sticking to the tried and tested formula. Although the Elaine McMahon script had a soap opera flavor 1 , the plot was excellently constructed and built easily to an. effective, though obvious windup. Story told of a young girl who attempted to commit suicide via an 18 floor jump from a hotel across the street from Grand Central Station, a reporter who talked her off the ledge, and their inevitable love affair. Miss McMahon’s dialog got plenty of warmth and poignancy across with- out getting too gushy. Lenka Peterson and Anthony Randall brought lots of charm to the lead assignments and the sup- porting players headed by Audrey Christie, Ruth McDevitt, Gavin Gordon and Chester Stratton gave the stanza a Broadway production quality. Cream of Wheat spots were okay and Ken Roberts did a capable job in the narrator’s slot. CBS’ long- envied Sat. morning block is still getting sock support. Gros. Boh Considine, who represented INS in President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower’s trip to Korea, re- ported , interestingly if not too revealingly on “historic” mission, via NBC (14), less than 90 minutes after: the General’s plane landed in New York. Considine did his weekly commentary for Mutual Insurance, live, after a fortnight of transcribing. He believed the President-elect had gained infor- mation, from first-hand observa- tion, that would prove of long- range importance, but said those Americans who expected a quick solution (Considine seemed to be surprised by their large number) were in for a disappointment. Nearest thing to a revelation on Korea that Considine reported was a cryptic reference to Mr. Eisen- hower’s realization serious supply problems must be corrected. The press service byliner stated that the General felt deeply President Truman’s criticism of his trip, but “would not sound off in public on it”; believed it would “not be dig- nified” and that state of world was too “ominous” to continue the bickering which the General felt had been overdone. Considine thought that the Pres ident-elect, via the Korean hop, had grown in “maturity,” if it were possible for a 62-year-old man with his wide background to do so. He found the General in wonderful physical condition; commented all the American soldiers there now knew he is “with” them. It is “the meat and potatoes” of a newsman's life to say, even to his grandchil- dren, “I was there on a tremen- dous story,” Considine concluded. His commentary could have been slightly tightened and smoothened through editing. Jaco. C o I u m b u s—Wally McGough, sales manager at WTYN here since Sept. 1, has been named general manager to fill the post left vacant two months ago by the departure of John Rossiter for Jackson, Miss. McGough formerly was commer- cial manager of WJAC-TV, Johns- town, Pa, AIR FORCE BAND OF PACIFIC 30 Mins., Sun., 12:30 p.m. Sustaining KGU, Honolulu Hickam Air Force Base has as- sembled the most versatile service band to hit Hawaii’s shores since World War II. In addition to the 40 to 50-piece concert and marching bands, per- sonnel are utilized in two pop out- fits, a 16-piece dance band known as the Tune Pilots and a six-piece combo called the Crew Chiefs. But it's the concert band that is win- ning widespread plaudits for its weekly “concert in blue, designed especially for you.” Piloting the troupe is Chief Warrant Officer Samuel Kurtz, who previously moulded the Air Force's “Band of the West” at Lackland Air Force,. Base, San An- tonio, into an outfit of national repute. Musicians in the Hawaii group embrace longtime military bands- men, including several ex-pros, and youngsters, many recruited locally for Air Force service. Kurtz is ex- panding the repertoire and, not incidentally, hoping that recruit- ing officers will come up with an experienced arranger to rev up some additional special arrange- ments. Weekly broadcast includes tunes from such shows as “Oklahoma” and “Porgy and Bess,” novelties such as “The Teddy Bear’s Pic- nic” and “Gold and Silver Waltz,” plus at least one march. Emphasis is on variety and Ed Marion, Hono- lulu announcer now on active duty with the Air Force and an enlisted man, handles the narration. Show certainly could hold its own as a goodwill vehicle if tran- scribed for mainland stations. But the thinking here is that the main- land is “pretty well covered by Air Force bands, so there’s not much chance of transcribing the Hawaii band's programs.” Air Force and/or Defense Dept. Is missing a good bet. Walt, THE TORCH With Richard Widmark, Joan Lor- ing, Lawson Zerbe, Bryna Roe- burn Producer-director: HI Brown Writer: Michael Sklas* 25 Mins.; Mon., 10:35 p.m. Sustaining ABC, from New York United Jewish Appeal radio chairman Hi Brown wrapped up a fairly moving drama, “The Torch,” to kick off UJA’s ’52-’53 broadcast season. Vehicle was based on an aspect of Chanukah, the Festival of Independence, and told the story of a young automo- bile mechanic who was chosen to carry a torch from the site of. the ancient Maccabean revolt to Tel Aviv. Young man, a champ dis- tance runner, was cynical about the significance of the ceremony, but he was accompanied by a girl, a .graduate nurse, who argued for the principles involved. Along the way they had various delays—a woman giving birth alone and needing the girl’s aid, a well-digging machine having broken down and requiring the mechanic’s skill, a D.P. child hid- ing in a cave because her deten- tion camp experience had left her with fear of open spaces. In the end, the youth dropped his cyni- cism and decided to move to the nurse’s village where his craft i9 needed. Michael Sklar’s script had a somewhat formalistic approach— the plotting of obstacles along the young couple’s path—but it illu- minated some facets (rather ideal- istically depicted) of life in Israel. It was well-acted by Richard Wid- mark, as the mechanic, and Joan Loring as the nurse, and a good supporting cast. Of special note was Bernard Green’s highly effec- tive music. Brown’s direction w^as topflight. Bril. ALL AMERICAN MUSIC With Hal Jackson 55 Mins.; Mon.-thru-Sun., 8:05 p.m. WMCA, New York In the ever widening flock of platter spinners who are now op- erating in and around New York, Hal Jackson looms as a potent en- try to nab a fair share of the disk devotees. Show is a WMCA (N. Y. ndie) pitch to widen its listening aud of white and Negro listeners and the station is showcasing Jackson, a Negro deejay, with a seven-night run via this 55-minute session. The web seems to be Qn the right track with Jackson for he’s an able spieler with a broad-^ap- peal. Jackson lifts it out of the run-of-the-mill platter show groove via slick gabbing and program- ming. His style is warm and appealing although at times, he gets a bit too sugSry especially when ad- dressing dialers who’ve sent in fan letters. For the most part, how- ever, he keeps his gab at a mini- mum, leaving plenty of time for disk spinning. He’s a good bet to develop plenty of steady lis- teners. Gros. SYLVAN LEVIN’S MUSIC MEET- ING Producer: Jack Irish 55 Mins.; Sat., 1:30 p.m. Sustaining Mutual, from N. Y. Here’s another stanza aimed for longhair dialers who must be sur- prised at the amount of “good” music being aired by the major network these days. This is a straight musical session, featuring long compositions on disks with brief comments by Sylvan Levin, WOR’s music director. On the kickoff show (13), Levin programmed music by George Bizet played by Leopold Stokow- ski’s orch. Included were the Symphony in C and the “L’Ar lesienne Suite” which ran off as a colorful repertory suitable for the longhairs and not too esoteric for wider audiences. Levin confined himself to brief comments about the composer in a light, informal vein which didn’t get in the way of the music. Hcrm . GOOD OLD DAYS With A1 Crowder, John Lord 25 Mins., Thurs., 9:05 p.m. Cedars Motor Co. KGLO, Mason City, Iowa “Good Old Days” is a clicko off- beat disk jockey show pegged for those dialers whose musical mem- ories go back to the days before the wailing crooners and the triple track platter. The musical remi- niscences are solid fare for the old- sters but it’s also a sock sesh for disk devotees interested in oldie platter styles. The 25-minute weekly show Is helmed by A1 Crowder, who tags himself “Grandma’s Disk Jockey.” With the aid of disk collector friends, Crowder manages to come up with rare waxings of artists who liave been long forgotten or are fondly remembered. His pre- spinning spiel is easy flowing and informative. It’s a pop music his- tory lesson that’s easy to take. Crowder works through’the pro- gram with announcer John Lord, who serves as straight man and eager student. The gab is light- hearted and never falls into the pedantic groove. On show caught (Nov. 27), Crowder’s platter tabel included the Joseph C. Smith orch version of “That Naughty Waltz” (1920), the Miami Palm orch workover of “Back In Your Own Backyard” (1927), Harry Lauder’s “I Love A Lassie” (1910), the George Olson orch waxing of “Drifting and Dreaming” (1925) and a finger plucked banjo instrumental (the banjo was called an. “African harp” in those days) by Fred Van Eps. The commercial spiels for the local Lincoln-Mercury dealer were effective and unobtrusive. Gros.