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4/10
Episode Isn't Much, But Liberace Surprises
ccthemovieman-125 April 2007
After opening skits of Benny in the dressing room and his shoulder pads, elevator lifts and girdle - but who's vain? - we see/hear Gertrude and Mabel, the switchboard operators make a few wise cracks. Some are funny, some too dated to be appreciated as much now.

Then we are witness to Jack going over to Liberace's house. The famous piano player must have been a good sport, because they poke fun at time for his excess in chandeliers, big smiles (even the butler has a huge, constant smile), tastes in food, his Japanese gardener, and his nephew "Willie," a little boy who was outside playing football with his friend while wearing a tuxedo!! (Only in the Liberace family.)

Later, we get to hear him in concert, which is always nice. With all the glitz and glamor, people forget this guy was talented piano player.

What surprised me was how well Liberace acted. He was more natural sounding and read most of his lines better than Benny.

Overall, however, this really wasn't as good as perhaps I am making it sound. It might have been entertaining in 1954, but not in 2007, even for those of us who grew up in the '50s. This episode seemed a lot longer than its half-hour, dragging in too many spots at Liberace's house.

Note: this episode came with the commercials. Wow, it's odd to see a pretty woman and members of the telecast all telling us all the benefits of Lucky Strike cigarettes.
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A Dreadful Commercial
dougdoepke27 September 2010
Liberace is at the peak of his popularity during this early TV period. However, his comedic possibilities are pretty limited. So the skit understandably concentrates on two of his trademarks—candelabras and dress-up. As ccthemovieman observes, Liberace is a good sport about the jibes, but the sketch goes on too long and is not that funny. Better, when the two perform musically, demonstrating the piano player's abilities as a master showman.

Catch Gertrude and Mabel, the two phone operators whose fractured conversations were a standard feature of Benny's radio show. On TV, however, the schtick doesn't work as well, at least in my opinion.

Actually, the most memorable part for me is that truly dreadful intermission commercial where Don Wilson makes sure everyone in the crowd is puffing on a Lucky Strike. He's absolutely gleeful as everyone absorbs their carcinogens from the tobacco sticks. This is not just the power of hindsight. The connection between tobacco and cancer was well known to medical science at the time; however, the power of the tobacco industry prevented government from taking appropriate action. So instead we get grimly ironical commercials like this one.
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7/10
Bittersweet nostalgia
jhboswell9 December 2006
I remember asking someone, at the time, if Liberace was the greatest piano player in the world. He was very popular; and, it seemed to me, very skillful (I played the piano a bit in those days too). He plays very well here, but it is sad to think what he became and how he ended. Anyway, here he is on top of his form, and Jack uses him to fullest advantage. There are very funny allusions to Liberace's famous, extravagant lifestyle. Also impressive are the clever set pieces and wonderful sight gags, typical of the Jack Benny Show production department but not so typical for television of the day. Someone put a lot of thought, and a lot of work, in to transitioning Jack Benny from radio to television.
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