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MGM Theatre of the Air - 10 hours [Download] #RA083D
MGM Theatre of the Air

10 hours - Digital Download

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Product Code: RA083D


The MGM Theatre of the Air

"Ars gratia artis"

Howard Dietz chats with Marlene Dietrich during a break from rehearsing "The MGM Theatre of the Air".During the postwar years, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Tiffany of movie studios, successfully made the leap into the production and distribution of transcribed syndicated radio series, often capitalizing on their many long-running film series as inspiration for program ideas. "The Story of Dr. Kildare", "The Adventures of Maisie", "The Hardy Family", and "Crime Does Not Pay" were just a few of the offerings syndicated to individual radio stations - after being first run on New York's WMGM, owned by Loew's Incorporated and known in the business as "The Call Letters of the Stars."

MGM Radio Attractions also attempted to duplicate the success of many of the medium's popular anthology series, particularly "The Lux Radio Theatre", in an effort to beef up falling attendance at movie theaters. Its own showcase, "The MGM Theatre of the Air", dramatized popular films from the studio's vaults, showcasing a big Tinsel Town guest star each week and, on rare occasions, even managing to secure the service of the original performer or performers who had appeared in the movie in the first place.

"MGM Theatre of the Air" wasn't able to offer up a "big gun" host like Lux's Cecil B. DeMille, so the series settled instead for Howard Dietz. Though not the legendary self-promoting showman that DeMille was, Dietz was certainly no slouch when it came to his chosen field; he was MGM's vice president at the time and had also made his name as a publicist, lyricist of such tunes as "Dancing in the Dark". "By Myself," and "You and the Night and the Music", and librettist for such Broadway successes as "The Band Wagon" and "Revenge with Music". Assisted by announcer Ed Stokes, Dietz would announce with great fanfare the program's weekly production and guest star, serve as sort of a quasi-narrator throughout the broadcast, and then at the end would chat up the week's star, allowing them to plug their latest project.

Like most MGM radio productions - and, in fact, most syndicated series in general - "MGM Theatre of the Air" had a fairly tight budget to work with each week and (if you'll pardon the pun) the lion's share usually went towards securing that week's big name performer. But the production wasn't penny-wise and pound-foolish; they wisely chose the cream of New York radio actors - Gertrude Warner, Eric Dressler, Parker Fennelly, Alice Frost - for supporting roles in each production, expertly adapted by the likes of William Kendall Clark, Welborn Kelly and Joseph Ruscoll. Raymond Cass was the producer, with Marx B. Loeb directing and music composed and conducted by Joel Herron.

"MGM Theatre of the Air" premiered over WMGM on October 14, 1949, ran until April 20, 1951, and then spent its retirement in radio syndication. But the series was also heard nationally over Mutual for a year in 1952, a testament to the quality of a show which, like "Dr. Kildare" and other MGM properties, was presented with the typical gloss the studio was known for. This collection features ten representative productions from the series, transferred directly from a series of original MGM Radio Attractions pressings and meticulously restored for your listening enjoyment. Though these may not feature "more stars than there are in Heaven" - that long-time MGM catch phrase - we know you'll find these smooth dramatic productions offer more than enough dramatic power to fill your mind with impressive entertainment.

#9 Anna Karenina
Based on the 1935 film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, this production tells the story of a married woman who falls for a dashing count despite her husband’s refusal to give her a divorce - - and how both lovers must suffer the social repercussions. With Marlene Dietrich, Arnold Moss, Phil Clark, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#10 The Youngest Profession
A pair of female autograph hounds spend their days bumping into and taking tea with Hollywood stars in this radio adaptation of the 1943 comedy. Starring Margaret O’Brien, the program also features Leon Janney, Ted Osborne, House Jamison, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#14 Crossroads
Adapted from the 1942 suspense thriller originally starring William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, and Basil Rathbone about a diplomat who, suffering from amnesia, is blackmailed by a pair of crooks for a crime he didn’t commit. With Rex Harrison, Eric Dressler, Joan Wetmore, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#15 Slightly Dangerous
Adapted from the 1943 screwball comedy originally starring Lana Turner as a bored small-town woman who moves to New York and, after a glamorous makeover, is mistaken for an heiress! With Celeste Holm, Carl Eastman, Edgar Stehli, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#16 Riptide
Adapted from the 1934 romantic drama originally starring Norma Shearer, Herbert Marshall, and Robert Montgomery about a Park Avenue socialite who marries a staid English nobleman as a lark - - and later falls in love with an old flame, creating a scandal. With Madeleine Carroll, Carl Frank, Ivor Francis, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#18 Third Finger, Left Hand
Adapted from the 1940 screwball comedy originally starring Myrna Loy as a magazine editor who pretends to be married to ward off any potential male suitors. Melvyn Douglas reprises his original film role in this broadcast as a persistent suitor who pretends to be her husband! With Arlene Francis, Edwin Jerome, announcer Ed Stokes and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#19 Queen Christina
Adapted from the classic 1934 romantic drama originally starring Greta Garbo, this biographical tale features Lilli Palmer and Basil Rathbone as the star-crossed lovers Queen Christina of Sweden and Antonio, an emissary from Spain. With Bret Morrison, Raymond Edward Johnson, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#20 Come Live With Me
Adapted from the 1941 screwball comedy originally starring James Stewart and Hedy Lamarr about an immigrant showgirl who marries an aspiring author in order to stay in the U.S. but soon finds the young scribe developing other ideas! With Peter Lawford, Jan Miner, Eric Dressler, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#41 Public Hero Number One
Adapted from the 1935 gangster melodrama originally starring Chester Morris, Jean Arthur, and Lionel Barrymore about an undercover cop who befriends a gangster in prison…and finds his attempts to glean information about his activities stymied when he gets romantically involved with the gangster’s screwball sister. With William Eythe, Paul Stewart, Nina Foch, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.
1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

#42 A Letter to Evie
Adapted from the 1946 romantic comedy about a uniform shirt factory worker who slips a note into one of the shirts for some anonymous soldier…and has it answered by a bashful doughboy pretending to be his best friend. Marsha Hunt and Hume Cronyn reprise their original screen roles for this radio broadcast. With Staats Cotsworth, John Gibson, Florence Robinson, announcer Ed Stokes, and host Howard Dietz.

1949/1950 - 55:00 - MGM Syndication

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 4 Write a review

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Keep Up the Good Work May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Connie Haddeland  
Keep up the good work. I love "The MGM Theatre of the Air"!

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 A Great Series May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Richard Stone  
Thank you for making the MGM Theatre of the Air available. I have always considered it a great series -- "Anna Karenina" and "The Citadel" are two of the best radio shows I've ever heard. I'm looking forward to the whole set and cannot wait to hear Basil Rathbone and Lili Palmer in "Queen Christina".

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 A Wonderful Era May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Marshall Ginsburg  
Thanks for all you do for the preservation of a wonderful era in broadcasting.

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  2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 More Stars than there are in the Heavens... May 20, 2022
Reviewer: Richard McLeod from RIVERSIDE, CA United States  
MGM in the Golden Age of Movies parallels the Golden Age of Radio, and was considered the  Queen of the Studios in Hollywood.  
In this set, the Stars acted out the roles of MGM films not always with the same Stars that had been in the movie.  
One example is in hearing Marlene Dietrich play Anna Karenina,  the part Garbo had played in the MGM film.  It is interesting to hear the different interpretations of the same story, only here for Radio.

Howard Dietz is the Host and Ed Stokes the Announcer, and both are exceptional, which is probably why both were chosen instead of MGM Chief Louis B. Mayer.
Cecil B. DeMille could well hosted the LUX Radio Theater with style and distinction, unfortunately talents that were not inherent with Mr. Mayer.
Louis B. Mayer was responsible for the status MGM had through his business acumen, but, it would have certainly been interesting to have heard Mr. Mayer actually speak and Host these Radio Programs.

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