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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Village of Fools
Plot:
A delightful farce in which a man is sent on a task to find the hamlet of Helm. But on his arrival, he is given the duties of a magistrate and given the mission to save the moon. E.G. was delighted to present this comedy and the actors.
Episode:
0863
Air Dates:
First Run - July 13, 1978
Repeat - April 5, 1979
Writer:
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Rating:
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3 Responses to Episode 0863


don't know how Sam Dann came up with this story, but this one seemed more offbeat than his regular stories. It was a nice touch with E.G. Marshall breaking the fourth wall in ACT-1 and ACT-2, but it would've great if he did it again in ACT-3 to say goodbye to the characters. There were 3 terrific actors in this: Fred Gwynne (as Mendele-Moishe), Bryna Raeburn (as Soureh-Rivkah) and Robert Dryden (as Baron Rothschild), but a story such as this wasn't right for them. There were hardly any sound effects, but the music of the harp at the 14-minute 27-second mark, the flute at the 16-minute mark, the enchanting music at the 31-minute 17-second mark, the dumbfounding tunes at the 34-minute 10 second mark, the mystifying sounds at the 37-minute and 45-second mark, and the fantasy melody at the 40-minute 30 second mark were all splendid. SPECIAL NOTE: If you read the synopsis of this story in the CBSRMT Episode Guide Book, they misspelled "Helm" with "Chellem".

Since the town's name is Yiddish there probably isn't a definitive English spelling. But it is usually spelled "Chelm".

In addition to being a big fan of OTR - I happen to also be an enthusiast of Yiddish - a "Yiddishisht" In fact in the same year this beautifully performed story, which is almost a parable, was first broadcast, I had just graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in Judaic/Yiddish/Hebrew studies. I wish to give a 40 yr. belated complement to (the memory of) Mr. Samuel H. Dann. This episode is packed full of old, very clever, uniquely Jewish, imaginative thought-provoking parodies and riddles culled from the original collection of "Chochmei-Chelm," tales of the so called Wise Men of Chelm. There actually was a Polish, Jewish town of Chelm - but not the legendary Village of Fools that is depicted in this wonderful radio drama. The sheer number of translated into English aphorisms, proverbs, twists or spin-offs from Yiddish expressions here is impressive: "yes and no, no closer but no further, my cup runneth over, fools are God's only creations that grow without rain, feathers in the wind, only the very wise realize that they are fools and vice-versa... and all the responses to questions with questions, e.g. " How are we doing Reb.Mendele-Moishe?" "Since when do I have company? Who are the 'we??'"... these are pure Yiddishisms. A brilliant collection! It is interesting and tragically ironic to note that in 1945 Mr. Dann, who died some 14 years ago, was a member of the American "Rainbow" Troops who saw first hand the horrific fate of Europe's butchered, murdered and decimated Jewish population. As an eyewitness he wrote a book titled, Dachau 29 April 1945: The Rainbow Liberation Memoirs, which was published in 1998. Fred Gwynne aka Herman Munster, whose deep voice is incomparable and rather enchanting, is my favorite actor from this CBS OTR series. Programs such as this one are true gems. Like the characters and the culture from which this story was derived, they are no more. Perhaps this whole phenomenon of being able to hear this fine old radio drama is one great example of a very positive function of today's vast web of internet: to preserve cherished and all but lost memories.

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