David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

Don't go hunting with Babe Ruth.

I recently subscribed to R U Sitting Comfortably, an old-time radio website that allows you to download a huge variety of radio shows from the thirties, forties, and fifties in MP3 format. The terms are extremely reasonable, and if you like old-time radio, it's well worth a look. I'm in the middle of moving (yes, all my books go BACK into storage, augh!), so I loaded up the Ipod with a bunch of radio shows: THE ADVENTURES OF BABE RUTH; JACK BENNY; DRAGNET; THE LONE RANGER; THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. Impressions:


The Babe goes hunting with a sportswriter friend. On their way into the woods, they meet a pitcher from a rival team. He doesn't like the Babe much, and his opinion is promptly justified when the Babe and his friend *shoot him in the head* while trying for a ten-point buck. The Babe pays the sneering rival's hospital bills, but damage to the optic nerve leaves the rival blinded in one eye. The rival pitcher recovers, and the Babe covers for him, preventing anyone from bunting to his blind side so the pitcher can have enough working time to pay off his family's debts and retire comfortably. The Babe insists that nobody know about the accident -- the show would have you believe it's in order to protect the other pitcher's career, but the cynical listener will suspect the Babe of trying to dodge a massive lawsuit.

If Ruth hadn't starred in the series himself, this episode would have given him grounds to sue for libel.

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: "The Baby From Krypton" / "Clark Kent, Reporter"

It's interesting to hear the early version of Superman, before the tropes we know had really jelled. "The Baby From Krypton" is set on Krypton, and features Jor-El going all Al Gore on the Kryptonian Council; when the planet goes blooey, baby Kal-El is rocketed to Earth from his doomed planet (best origin ever). What happens after that is interesting: in "Clark Kent, Reporter," the Kents are left out entirely. Superman arrives on earth full-grown and in costume, in... Indiana? He rescues a professor and his son from a trolley accident. They advise him that the best way to learn about humans and find out when they're in help would be to work for a newspaper, and suggest that the name "Clark Kent" sounds pretty ordinary. My guess is the radio folks didn't want to have two sets of doomed parents. But it's thrilling to hear some things said for the first time, even if they're a little... not quite perfected. For example, when Superman flies the professor and son to safety, he picks one up under each arm, and then HE SAYS IT. You know the one. The audio cue that means Superman is about to fly. Or at least, leap an eighth of a mile (though he hovers in the air at one point, so they're already beginning the process of powering up). Yes, that hallowed phrase, the one every kid has belted out at some time on the playground:

"Up, up... and we're off!"

Doesn't have the same ring, somehow. But they fixed it, later.

Coming up: my theory about comic book captions, as explained by the changing use of narration between radio and television -- THE LONE RANGER vs. DRAGNET.

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