Telefilm Review: Kraft Suspense Theater: Twixt the Cup and the Lip

We continue our reviews that focus on Batman actors in other detective and mystery programs as part of our Amazing World of Radio Summer Series, focusing on their old-time radio work. This week, our focus is on Ethel Merman.

She guest starred in a 1965 episode of the anthology series, The Kraft Suspense Theater, in “Twixt the Cup and the Lip,” a comedic heist story. A gallery employee (Larry Blyden) is fired by his employer for being far too honest, after telling two gallery patrons that a $2 million scepter was overpriced. He’s given two weeks working notice before his employment is terminated. His fiancee complains that he’s a doormat. So the employee does the only things he can do: start taking long lunches and coming in late now that the boss has fired him anyway. He dons a turtleneck sweater and cap (a sure sign in the mid-1960s of a heel turn), and hatch a multi-person conspiracy to steal the scepter with the aide of a corrupt ex-cop (Charlie McGraw), his landlady (Merman), a washed-up actress, and her daughter (Lucille Burnside), a wannabe actress.

The episode is fairly entertaining. It’s easy to sympathize with most of the characters to an extent except the sleazy ex-cop. Merman adds to every scene she’s in and manages to make the most of a small part. The plot itself has a few turns, as some of the co-conspirators begin plotting double-crosses. At least one of these felt a bit forced. The ending is fun, but a little bit too pat. Still, Larry Blyden turns in a really earnest and fun performance as the protagonist, and Ethel Merman adds just a touch of star power to make “Twixt the Cup and the Lip” a thoroughly watchable bit of 1960s television.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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