Monday, October 30, 2006

Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel

From This program featured Groucho and Chico and aired in the Monday evening slot of the NBC radio program, Five Star Theater, presented by the Standard Oil Company in 1932 and 1933. This was the first important radio series starring any of the Marx Brothers, and the only fully-realized Groucho/Chico vehicle (although they recorded a pilot for The Marx Brothers Show some years later, it never went into production). For many years it was believed that nothing was left of these shows. They were broadcast live and, though recorded on transcription disks, they were thought not to have been saved.

It wasn't until 1988 that any real evidence of these shows was unearthed, when several scripts (all but one episode) were discovered at The Library of Congress and subsequently published by Pantheon Books. And as recently as 1996, it was still believed that no actual recordings of these shows survived. Well, we were all wrong, and here's proof. Here are three excerpts from this series (including one complete program) in glittering RealAudio.

* May 8, 1933 -- In this episode, Flywheel and Ravelli are rooked by a client and decide to take his tour bus in lieu of payment for a job. Well, since they've got the bus, all they need is passengers for the tour! In this clip, we hear the results of Flywheel and Ravelli's short-lived sightseeing tour -- 5 min., 34 sec. (very poor audio quality).

* May 15, 1933 -- Reginald Princeley is a bit put out that his producer won't let him make movies the way he wants to. So he procures the services of Flywheel and Ravelli to help him out. Flywheel solves the problem by getting Princeley fired and making a gangster picture. So here's the final half of this episode -- 14 min., 35 sec.

* May 22, 1933 -- Flywheel and Ravelli are stowaways on an ocean liner. Luckily enough, Flywheel is mistaken for Sir Roderick Mortimer, a famous African explorer, by Mrs. Rivington, well-known Long Island dowager who has invited him to her estate for the weekend (sound familiar?). Not to miss a chance at freedom, and perhaps money, Flywheel poses as the explorer in this complete transcription of the final episode of Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel -- 29 min., 4 sec.

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