The Ed Sullivan Show (film #1 on Toast of the Town (Shokus Video)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This 1956 episode of "The Ed Sullivan Show" is a real hodge-podge from the days when tv was supposed to be for one mass audience. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz plug their movie Forever Darling, Desi and the Ames Brothers sing the title song from same (with Lucy trying to butt in, as usual), the Ames Brothers go on to do some impressions of 50s pop singers, Rodgers and Hammerstein are interviewed and the Broadway cast of Pipe Dream (one of the lesser Rodgers & Hammerstein efforts) sings some songs from the show, Orson Welles does a scene from King Lear, Ed introduces some celebrities in the audience, and ends up not having enough time for a rather lame ventriloquist to perform. Most of the stuff is only mildly entertaining, but it does have a real 50s feel, giving you an education in what 50s audiences liked to see on tv. The most appalling part is the Pipe Dream sequence––despite the assertion on the show that this show was incredibly popular and sold out the first night, it seems to be unknown today, and frankly, the scenes here explain why. The appalling part was that this musical was supposedly based upon a John Steinbeck novel, perhaps not the top author on the should-never-be-turned-into-a-Rodgers-and-Hammerstein-musical list, but certainly in the top ten. Still, Ed almost makes up for it by cutting the ventriloquist short. Extra highlights include commercials for big ugly 50s cars and a really cheesy "next week" promo.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

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