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Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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AMOLAD on the radio


See also Lux Theater broadcasts and The Hedda Hopper Show
See also the Live TV broadcast on NBC

We have found information about "Stairway to Heaven" being broadcast as part of the Screen Director's Playhouse series on American radio (NBC).

These were broadcasts of popular films or stage shows adapted to the radio broadcast between 1934 and 1955. They ran for 1 hour with a few breaks for ads (or "A Message From Our Sponsor").

Well I've listened to the "Stairway to Heaven" CD and they've taken quite a few liberties - but it just about works.

I've had to guess at the spelling for all the people's names.

Screen Director's Playhouse
Broadcast on 26th July 1951 by NBC

It is introduced as being "Directed by Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell" - but I'm sure they didn't have anything to do with this broadcast, that was just a (not very explicit) reference to the film.

The announcer, Jimmy Wallington, does the introduction and then introduces George Sidney, president of the Screen Director's Guild.

Then, a word from our sponsor:
An ad for Chesterfield cigarettes by Bob Hope & Hy Averback (sp?)
A mention of the other sponsors, Anacin headache pills and RCA Victor TVs & radios.

On with the show:
Stairway to Heaven, starring Robert Cummings and Julia Adams

Act 1:
Tour of the galaxy. Narrator sounds different to the announcer. Not as reassuring as the one in the film.

Peter Carter in the burning bomber. Cummings puts on an English accent (a bit dubious). No poetry & he calls June "darling" from the start. He mentions heaven a lot (as did the narration) - the film is careful not to.

Into the reception area, audience laughter as the USAF check in.

Bob is much more like a cockney and uses the word "ruddy" a lot.

Peter on the beach (no naked goat herd). June sees him and calls to him. As she approaches, Peter determines that she looks lovely and so must be an angel. But then recognises her uniform is American - so it can't be heaven (some laughter).

It's played in this light comedy vein quite a lot (too much). Looking up his details Cummings is best know for his light comedy roles, certainly not as a romantic lead.

Peter & June are in a meadow, falling in love. Conductor 71 appears & stops time. Tries to get Peter to come with him, uses the word "ruddy" to prove he's met Bob. Peter refuses to go & appeals.

End of Act 1 - dramatic music - applause.
Ad for Anacin

Act 2:
Too much comedy for my liking. e.g. when June introduces Peter & Frank ...
June: Peter darling, this is Frank
Frank: Hello Peter darling (laughter)

Some coughing from audience.

Frank does the tests on Peter. Unspecified where they are but there's no Shakespeare going on. Peter fixes is eyes on June's legs when told to look ahead.

End of Act 2

ad for RCA Victor TVs ad for Chesterfield cigarettes ad for Anacin

Pause for Station ID to be plugged in

Welcome back - title, stars, sponsors named

Act 3 At Frank's cottage

Frank & June play table tennis, Conductor 71 visits again. He tells Peter that the prosecutor will be Abraham JONES. (what was wrong with the name Farlan?)

Frank explains some of his diagnosis to June. Goes to see American doctors, explains about arachnoid adhesions and the olfactory nerve.

Peter was given an injection so goes for a ride on the staircase. The first defending counsel that Conductor 71 suggests is Clarence Darrow (Scopes "Monkey Trial"). Interesting choice in 1951.

Peter runs down stairs, Frank realises it's getting urgent so goes for the ambulance (not so much comedy now).

Ambulance arrives & they tell June the bad news.

Frank arrives & is greeted by Conductor 71. Frank meets Bob & Bob finally says "What ho" although it sounds odd from a Londoner.

Peter gets to hospital & is "put under". The trial starts.

Bob takes the stand & says Peter had many girlfriends. "Aha" says Abraham Jones. "Not so fast" says Frank. Frank asks if Peter had ever declared his love for a woman. "Yes he had" says Bob. "Aha" says Abraham Jones. "Not so fast" says Frank. "Which woman?" asks Frank. "His mother" says Bob

Not much of a trial scene although they did manage a dig at "the horrors of the British Broadcasting Corporation" after the one about Punch.

Then they take the stairway down to the operating theatre. The denouement isn't quite as dramatic as in the film (how could it be). They only use half of the good lines, but it's still pretty good.

End of Act 3 - loud applause

The stars are brought out for a chat with the announcer as a postscript - with the emphasis heavily on the "script".

Credits are read out:
Robert Cummings as Peter
Julia Adams as June
Other parts played by:
Tony Barrett, Ben Wright, Norma Varden (almost certainly the recording angel role), Don Morrison, Rye Billsbury, Jerry Hausner and Ramsey Hill.

Adaptation by Richard Allan Simmons

Production supervised by Howard Wiley Director Bill Kern

The incidental music included what I suspected was a Theramin (early electronic instrument - heard on The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations") and sure enough they announced:
Theramin performed by Dr Samuel Hawthorne

 

All in all a very interesting piece. Nowhere near as good as the film of course (how could it be?), but well worth a listen.

 

Available from Audio Classics Archive at http://www.audio-classics.com/screendirector.html it's the last one on their list, CDS10516. They charge US$7.00 plus postage and are quite happy to send it around the world.

Very good quality CD. As good as it could ever have been heard on the radio (if not better).

Running time: a few seconds shy of one hour

This production is now available as an MP3 download from ThenRadio.com along with the Lux Theater production


See also about AMOLAD broadcast live on US TV


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