The year is 1944. There’s a war on, and George Burns and Gracie Allen are doing shows for the Armed Forces Radio Service. In this one, Gracie schemes her way into a hotel room while every place in New York is booked up, and has dreams (or are they?) where George switches place with the guest star, romantic leading-man Franchot Tone.
The year is 1944. World War II still shows no signs of turning (D-Day won’t happen until June); Wendell Willkie has crashed and burned in the Republican primaries, though he was the nominee in 1940; and Alan Ladd is rising to stardom after playing a hitman, alongside femme fatale Veronica Lake, in films like This Gun For Hire.
Gracie Allen disapproves.
This episode is…very drenched in 1940’s gender roles (take a shot every time someone complains about women drivers), but a lot of the jokes come from the characters deliberately playing up and/or subverting the stereotypes put on them. Plus the usual cute gags and fun moments.
In this direct sequel to Gracie Takes Up Crime Solving, Gracie believes there’s a hit out on George…and tracks down the real Rudy and Trudy for help. Because actors are always just like the caricatured versions of themselves they play on-air, right?
The year is 1947. The Adventures of the Thin Man is a major hit on the radio; Stepin Fetchit is still a household name, though the actor has backed away from his movie career out of frustration with the racism in the industry; and Gracie Allen is thinking about changing genres.
This is the first of two episodes where Gracie, as a devoted fan of The Tall Man, ventures down into “the underworld” — posing as hardened criminal Gracie Catraz. She’s accompanied by Meredith Wilson (a guy so modest, he once accidentally bumped into a woman and thought “the honorable thing to do” was to marry her), doing his best to be her “moll.”
The year is 1948. Ballpoint pens are invented but not common, because they cost the modern equivalent of $170 each; “How” being mistaken for “Indian language” is, unfortunately, still considered witty; and Gracie is trying to do something special for George’s birthday.
This is one of my favorite episodes when it comes to the George/Gracie relationship. For once George gets the wrong end of the stick; Gracie gets it too, but a different wrong end (it’s a complicated stick); they both end up thinking the other one is in danger, and are immediately ready to go to the mat for each other.
The year is 1947. Noir films are fond of name-checking Tehachapi, currently an all-women’s prison; Magnin’s has been bought out, but stores are still using the name; and Gracie Allen is just getting the bills for her Christmas 1946 purchases.
Featuring some truly adorable financial logic (as long as it’s not being applied to your finances, anyway).
The year is 1947 — specifically, Christmas 1947. Totò is right in the middle of being Italy’s greatest comedian; corporal punishment is still treated lightly enough to come up in casual jokes; and Gracie Allen, for the first and last time in her entire career, has called in sick to work.
Yes, it’s the one and only episode where Gracie’s lines are handled by someone else — the marvelously talented Jane Wyman. (Just a year later, Wyman won the Academy Award for Best Actress, along with the first of her three Golden Globes.)
There’s a couple question marks left where I couldn’t quite catch a word. If you can tell what they’re saying, please comment and let me know! Continue reading