Does anyone remember "Life of Riley"?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Carlos Garcia, May 27, 2005.

  1. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    I was wondering if anyone here remembers the old "Life of Riley" TV show. The original TV version starred Jackie Gleason and the 2nd version starred William Bendix (who I believe played Chester Riley on the radio version of the show. I remember watching both versions in reruns during the 70s, and enjoying both. I wish someone would release that series on DVD. Does anyone know if there are any plans for such a release? Thanks.
     
  2. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    I've seen both versions in reruns in the 70s and 80s too. The Jackie Gleason version was one of the earliest filmed sitcoms (1949 to 1950 season), predating even I Love Lucy.

    However, it was William Bendix who originated the role of Chester Riley on radio in 1943. In 1948 Bendix also appeared in a feature film version "The Life of Riley". By 1953, he headlined the more popular TV version which lasted 5 years and was also where Martin Milner got his professional start in 1957.

    I don't know if any of those ever made it to home video (VHS or DVD).
     
  3. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    I remember watching the occasional episode on CBN back in the day. Other than that, I doubt this show has had any widespread exposure in over 40 years. Lack of familiarity probably will kill any DVD chances. However, I'd love to be proved wrong.

    Steve
     
  4. Bob Hug

    Bob Hug Screenwriter

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    A few episodes of "Riley" have appeared on some DVDs from a few public domain releasing companies. A single Gleason episode appears on the Canadian label Cascadia Entertainment titled "Comedies, Vol. 2" as part of Cascadia's "Golden Years of Classic Telvision" line. Very difficult to find, but also has a single episode of "Mr. Peepers" (Wally Cox), "I Remember Mama," and "The Trouble with Father" (Stu Erwin). Diamond Entertainment has a box set titled "T.V.'s Lost Shows" that has two of the Bendix episodes titled "Riley's Operation" and "Bab's School Election." You might be able to find this at Walgreen's Drug Stores.
     
  5. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Supporting Actor

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    I watched it on a local channel in the 70s, and on CBN in the 80s. I've always been quite fond of it, especially the earlier Bendix episodes from around 1953-54 (which tended to be funnier than the later ones). I'd love to see it appear on dvd, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
  6. JeffWld

    JeffWld Stunt Coordinator

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    Columbia House put out at least one volume of the Gleason episodes back in the late 1980's.

    After an endless series of mergers over the years,the Bendix episodes appear to have been acquired by 20th Century Fox via the New World Television sell-off.
     
  7. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    I wouldn't buy any Life of Riley shows on video, but this bit of nostalgia typing about it is interesting. In the late 1970s, I first saw the Jackie Gleason version. The production values were lower and I seem to recall everything being filmed on sets -- no outdoor photography. The theme music heard was nothing more than somebody whistling!

    It was on the defunct CBN cable network in the early 1980s where I first saw the 1950s Life of Riley with William Bendix. That show had a full orchestration, in which ironically the opening notes of the end theme sounded like the opening notes to The Jack Benny Program's end theme....until it quickly goes in a different direction.

    The second series was able to do some occasional location shooting around Los Angeles. If they needed to go to an air force base in one episode, for example, the budget was there.
     
  8. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    Ironically, I think it was the low production value that I enjoyed with the Gleason version. I mean, I remember having seen the show in the late 70s, and to this day I could whistle the theme song...It left an impression. I enjoyed both versions of the show. I hope they at least release a "best of" set someday.
     
  9. RoyGBiv

    RoyGBiv Stunt Coordinator

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    "What a revoltin' development this is."

    SMK
     
  10. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i used to watch the bendix version on channel 11 from NY. on cable when i spent my summers at the south jersey shore in
    the 70's.

    i was just a youngster but i rmemeber lining that show.
     
  11. Jeff#

    Jeff# Screenwriter

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    Yeah, it was WPIX where I first saw The Life of Riley too, and they ran it at 4 in the morning. I lived in southern New Jersey most of my life!

    And like Carlos, I remember the whistling theme to the Gleason version. But then I like whistling many many other TV themes too -- even in public! [​IMG]
     
  12. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    I remember watching the William Bendix Life of Riley as a child when they originally aired.

    I haven't seen an episode since, but the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this thread was "1313 Blue View Terrace."

    It's amazing what the brain can hold onto, needlessly, for so many years (and nowadays I can barely remember my own phone number). :b
     
  13. Gregory V

    Gregory V Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw the Bendix version in the eighties on CBN. They were mildly amusing but Im not all that interested in buying a DVD release. I have never seen the Gleason version, but have heard from others that it wasnt all that good (except maybe the nostalgia for Gleason fans).
     

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