Monday, September 5, 2011

Words at War - a review

Words of War was a 30 minute dramatic anthology series dealing with stories condensed from books written about World War II.  The series started in the middle of the war and at the most crucial time of the war for the allies, somewhat heightening it's debut.  Not only that, it was supported by Johnson's Wax in the Fibber McGee and Molly time slot as Jim and Marian Jordan went on vacation.  And if that wasn't enough, the music for the series was done by NBC's own Frank Black, a master at orchestration and the shows were often directed by Anton M. Leder of Suspense fame.  Adding to all of that is the fact that most all - if not all - of the series is available today for our listening pleasure and the sound is above average.

Done in a docu-drama style with Black's music as the background gave often stark, sobering  realism to these stories penned by different authors.  While not all of the shows are winners, many are far above average and many remind me of the writing of Arch Oboloer.  Not that these plays are anti-war (just the opposite) but most of these stories pack a powerful, though-provoking wallop, especially when dealing with subjects that are hard to comprehend, like the taking of innocent civilian lives.  As Billboard Magazine wrote in 1943, "Muddled, cloying ideas of war romantics were washed away in a clean sweep."  No truer words can be spoken about some of these dramas.

With anthologies you often have some bad and some bad because each author has his own strengths and weaknesses.  I've only listened to 24 of these but I have not found one I didn't like.  Some of these stories are so well done I would rate them as 5 stars or better.  Some are not as good but all seem to have a quality worthy of this fine radio series.  For the entire series, I give it 5 stars because of the quality of material, quantity of material (close to 100 shows) and sound quality.   

©Jimbo 2010/2011

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