Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: The 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century selected by Walter Cronkite
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I am very happy with this collection. Old Time Radio continues to be hard to obtain in a decent format, and finding it on CD is even more difficult. In light of this, "The 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century" is the best, all-around collection I have found.
There are some real gems here. The dramatization of Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall (X Minus One)" is very well done. Adolph Huxley introduces his classic "Brave New World (CBS Radio Workshop)," and Abbott and Costello shine as usual with "Who's on First (Abbott and Costello Show)." Orson Wells is well represented in a variety of genres, doing good work with "The Hitchhiker (Mercury Summer Theater) and "White God (The Shadow)." His classic "War of the Worlds (Mercury Theater on the Air)" is included, although if you buy any Old Time Radio collections, you tend to end up with several copies of this. A nice episode of Bold Venture stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. "Sorry Wrong Number (Suspense)" is considered one of the finest examples of the genre, and Orson Welles considered it to be the best script available. Bing Crosby is great in his performances
Personally, I would have picked a slightly different collection of the 60 greatest, but they did not ask me. The collection is a little heavy on comedy and variety shows. This type of humor tends not to translate well over the years, and you may not know the references. The patriotic pieces are very heavy handed, and America operates under a different set of morals. "God, and plutonium, are on our side..." I could do without any Baby Snooks.
All together, the good episodes far outweigh the mediocre. I am definitely happy with this purchase, and have listened to episodes multiple times.
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HALL OF FAMEon December 18, 1999
Radio Spirits, Inc. is in the process of making available on tapes (and a few on CDs) to a video-oriented public just about every popular radio show of the century that will end on New Year's Eve of 2000. Not only is their catalogue bursting with individual programs, but they have boxed sets of 60 shows each on 20 cassettes packaged by type: science fiction, detective, comedy, and so on. Their latest offering in that format is titled <The 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century> -- and lest one exclaim "Sez who?" the rest of the title is "Selected by Walter Cronkite." Of course, we cannot be sure if he chose each episode personally. The box tells us that "Radio Spirits has teamed" with him in the selection. For some of these choices, I fell into violent disagreement with the use of "greatest"; but all in all this is as remarkable a collection as are the earlier releases and quite different from them in one important respect. Several of the shows are highly poetical and designed to help audiences through the war and postwar years back in the 1940s. The one called "We Hold These Truths" gives us Jimmy Stewart in a Norman Corwin tribute to the Bill of Rights, while Orson Welles intones the purple prose of Corwin's "Fourteen August." I found a salute to Carl Sandburg somewhat overlong. However Corwin's "The Undecided Molecule" is not only all in verse and truly funny, but features Robert Benchley and Groucho Marx among several other stars. Of course Cronkite would include a full Walter Winchell broadcast when a few seconds' sample would have sufficed, and the Vic and Sade episode chosen is particularly vapid. (Were they all like that, can some reader tell me?) But choosing the Abbott and Costello show that has not only the "Who's on First" but also the "Bob Feller" routine was right on target, as was the Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy show in which Mae West got herself banned from the air for her suggestive reading of Eve in a sketch in which Don Ameche plays Adam. Other highlights are the "Sorry, Wrong Number" with Agnes Moorehead ("Suspense") and the same author's "The Hitchhiker" with Orson Welles ("Mercury Summer Theater"). Mr. Welles' famous Mercury Theater "War of the Worlds" is the first selection, by the way, to be matched in terror only by "Three Skeleton Key" ("Escape") in which Vincent Price and two men are trapped in a lighthouse by millions of rats! Or the classic "Leinengen vs. the Ants" ("Escape") in which William Conrad defies several square miles of the man-eaters. For comedy we have Baby Snooks, Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Desi and Lucy (with the Mertz's), Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (in a particular funny Philco Radio Time Episode), and a host of comics in a Dick Tracy spoof on a "Command Performance" designed for GI's overseas. For drama we have, among many, the science fiction "Nightfall" ("X-Minus One") the western "From Here to Boston" ("Have Gun, Will Travel") the mystery "The Death Bed Caper" ("Sam Spade, Detective") the suspenseful "The Shadow of Death" ("Inner Sanctum") and the speculative "Brave New World" ("The CBS Radio Workshop"). (I regret I simply do not have the space to list them all, but you can contact me for more details.) Different from the other sets is the format that mixes 60 and 90 minute shows with shorter ones, so that an entire tape can be devoted to a sequence of "Johnny Dollar" episodes. But you still get 60 shows, if each episode counts as one! As I said when I reviewed some of the earlier releases, this is a terrific educational tool if used correctly. The Bill of Rights broadcast, for example, would do a better job letting the young know about those original 10 amendments than any textbook could. And think what a teacher could do in having a class write its own radio show after hearing some of these! I believe there is a CD version available, but I find CDs leave out the commercials to make room on a side that cannot hold more than 79 minutes. But in either format, this collection (as are the others, of course) is a most enjoyable, if not a most valuable, set to have and to play many times. Perhaps if we understood better where we came, we might make a better job of where we are going.
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HALL OF FAMEon December 11, 1999
Radio Spirits, Inc. is in the process of making available on tapes (and a few on CDs) to a video-oriented public just about every popular radio show of the century that will end on New Year's Eve of 2000. Not only is their catalogue bursting with individual programs, but they have boxed sets of 60 shows each on 20 cassettes packaged by type: science fiction, detective, comedy, and so on.
Their latest offering in that format is titled <The 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century> -- and lest one exclaim "Sez who?" the rest of the title is "Selected by Walter Cronkite." Of course, we cannot be sure if he chose each episode personally. The box tells us that "Radio Spirits has teamed" with him in the selection. For some of these choices, I fell into violent disagreement with the use of "greatest"; but all in all this is as remarkable a collection as are the earlier releases and quite different from them in one important respect.
Several of the shows are highly poetical and designed to help audiences through the war and postwar years back in the 1940s. The one called "We Hold These Truths" gives us Jimmy Stewart in a Norman Corwin tribute to the Bill of Rights, while Orson Welles intones the purple prose of Corwin's "Fourteen August." I found a salute to Carl Sandburg somewhat overlong. However Corwin's "The Undecided Molecule" is not only all in verse and truly funny, but features Robert Benchley and Groucho Marx among several other stars.
Of course Cronkite would include a full Walter Winchell broadcast when a few seconds' sample would have sufficed, and the Vic and Sade episode chosen is particularly vapid. (Were they all like that, can some reader tell me?) But choosing the Abbott and Costello show that has not only the "Who's on First" but also the "Bob Feller" routine was right on target, as was the Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy show in which Mae West got herself banned from the air for her suggestive reading of Eve in a sketch in which Don Ameche plays Adam.
Other highlights are the "Sorry, Wrong Number" with Agnes Moorehead ("Suspense") and the same author's "The Hitchhiker" with Orson Welles ("Mercury Summer Theater"). Mr. Welles' famous Mercury Theater "War of the Worlds" is the first selection, by the way, to be matched in terror only by "Three Skeleton Key" ("Escape") in which Vincent Price and two men are trapped in a lighthouse by millions of rats! Or the classic "Leinengen vs. the Ants" ("Escape") in which William Conrad defies several square miles of the man-eaters.
For comedy we have Baby Snooks, Fibber McGee and Molly, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Desi and Lucy (with the Mertz's), Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (in a particular funny Philco Radio Time Episode), and a host of comics in a Dick Tracy spoof on a "Command Performance" designed for GI's overseas.
For drama we have, among many, the science fiction "Nightfall" ("X-Minus One") the western "From Here to Boston" ("Have Gun, Will Travel") the mystery "The Death Bed Caper" ("Sam Spade, Detective") the suspenseful "The Shadow of Death" ("Inner Sanctum") and the speculative "Brave New World" ("The CBS Radio Workshop").
(I regret I simply do not have the space to list them all, but you can contact me for more details.)
Different from the other sets is the format that mixes 60 and 90 minute shows with shorter ones, so that an entire tape can be devoted to a sequence of "Johnny Dollar" episodes. But you still get 60 shows, if each episode counts as one! As I said when I reviewed some of the earlier releases, this is a terrific educational tool if used correctly. The Bill of Rights broadcast, for example, would do a better job letting the young know about those original 10 amendments than any textbook could. And think what a teacher could do in having a class write its own radio show after hearing some of these! I believe there is a CD version available, but I find CDs leave out the commercials to make room on a side that cannot hold more than 79 minutes. But in either format, this collection (as are the others, of course) is a most enjoyable, if not a most valuable, set to have and to play many times.
Perhaps if we understood better where we came, we might make a better job of where we are going.
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on July 26, 2002
While there are many sets on Old Time Radio out there, none have yet come close to this one. 60 radio classics are here, all selected by the great broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite. I'm a a die hard collector of Old Time Radio shows, so this set was the perfect one for me.
Like Comedy? You'll get such classics as Jack Benny's "Your Money, or Your Life?", Abott & Costello's "Who's On First?", and the infamous Don Ameche & Mae West "Adam&Eve" sketch, on The Chase And Sanbourn Hour.
Like to be scared out of your wits? The best horror broadcast of all time "The Thing On The Fourble Board" will certinly do the job, as will Escape's nail-bitting classic "Three Skeleton Key", and it's other shocker "Leinengan Vs. The Ants". Add that up with the haunting Mercury Summer theatre episode "The Hitchhiker", and there's 2 Hours worth of terror!
There's all sorts of other great show, but I'm in a rush! OTR fans, take my word for it, this set rules!
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on February 8, 2000
This was just the companion I needed when I drove 14 hours home for Christmas. The selection is kind of heavy on "christmas episodes" so it was even more perfect. Granted I am a radio "buff" but this collection exposed me to a lot of "new" old shows.
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on June 19, 2015
Finally! we already have a good tape player in our 23 year old van! These were a God - send! because our radio is evil! lol! these are great! have a nice case, all in order....couldn't ask for anything better! Great quality! Highly recomend! One day we will replace the tape player = good news= we don't have to throw these out! Amazon has a device that can turn tapes into c.d.'s! Amazon = we love you! You think of everything!
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on September 15, 2013
I bought this for my 90 year old mom.she loved it. She has listened to it twice. It reminds her of her younger days.I would highly recommend this for the older person who grew up when radios were important for entertainment.
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on December 3, 2015
You have to like this stuff since it comes from a previous generation. I used to listen to some of these shows on a radio when I was very young. This is the cassette version. CD's would be better but more expensive. Audio quality is quite good.
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on December 28, 2014
Excellent gift--a big hit. The person who received it really liked it because he remembered all of the shows and song before TV. Obviously you had to pick the best ones but there are certainly many,many more shows that could have been included. Overall, good job!
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on September 27, 2012
My father is blind so it is hard to get something for him for birthdays and Christmas. I grew up listening to the radio and these are some of what my parents listened to. My father loves them, he was very pleased. Glad they are still available on tape.
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