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The Great Radio Comedians (1972)

TV Movie  |   |  Documentary  |  1972 (USA)
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Documentary about radio comedies primarily focused on Burns & Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, The Jack Benny Program, Fibber McGee & Molly, The Bob Hope Show, and The Fred Allen Show.



(as Stuart Hample)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Edgar Bergen ...
Jim Jordan ...
Kenny Delmar ...
Senator Crackhorn / Himself
Minerva Pious ...
Pansy Nussbaum / Herself
Parker Fennelly ...
Titus Moody / Himself
Peter Donald ...
Ajax Cassidy / Himself
Fred Allen ...
Fred Allen (archive footage)
Bob Hope (archive footage)
Gracie Allen (archive footage)
Marian Jordan ...
Molly McGee (voice) (archive footage)
Eddie Cantor (archive footage)
Fanny Brice (archive footage)


Documentary about radio comedies primarily focused on Burns & Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, The Jack Benny Program, Fibber McGee & Molly, The Bob Hope Show, and The Fred Allen Show.

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1972 (USA)  »

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Essential viewing for old time radio fans
4 February 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Featuring original interviews with George Burns, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen (and Charle McCarthy!), Bing Crosby, the cast of The Fred Allen Show and Jim "Fibber McGee" Jordan, this classic PBS documentary is a must-see for fans of their classic radio shows. Burns and Benny are at their most candid (matter of fact, this is one of the ONLY interviews I've found with Burns where he wasn't in-character), the Fred Allen cast performs an original sketch before the rolling cameras (with Al Bernie subbing in for Allen) and then sit down for an interview, Bergen and Crosby share some interesting anecdotes... and Jordan spends WAY too much time grinning at the camera while listening to old "Fibber McGee" skits before giving a minimal of insight into the show (it almost seems as if the special was running short so they padded it).

As one can expect, there are countless excerpts from broadcasts along with oodles of rare photos of the stars. But there are also tons of rare film clips including George & Gracie's Paramount shorts, vintage newsreel excerpts galore, filmed footage of one of Rudy Vallee's radio broadcasts, Bob Hope performing for the troops, Benny live on stage, Bergen with his living dolls on stage, TV and out in public, various television excerpts and much more! Whomever was responsible for digging up photos and footage, they really did a remarkable job. On the downside, many cast/crew members were still alive at that time, and it's an utter shame that they didn't participate to give a more well-rounded view of the programs. Eh, maybe that's nitpicking though.

If you're a fan of classic radio comedies (particularly Burns' and Benny's shows), this ancient TV special is well worth seeking out, and as of the moment I'm writing it's up on You Tube in its entirety - here's hoping that it remains on the site for a long, long time because it's too good to fall into oblivion forever, as so many similar programs have.

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