The classic "Milton Berle's Buick Hour" was television at its best, with many of the world's greatest entertainers joining Uncle Miltie in two raucous hours filled with songs, skits and lots of laughs. Volume 3 features guest appearences by Carol Channing, Peter Lawford and Maria Riva.
Two more episodes from Milton Berle's 1953-54 variety-show season, a time when Uncle Miltie was still riding high as TV's crown prince of cornball comedy. The first episode is a pre-Christmas show in which Berle tries to convince his guests to come to his holiday party. They include Peter Lawford (an entire song routine is built around Berle's trying to figure out exactly what Lawford's talent is---a legitimate question, actually) and Maria Riva, then a fledging actress who is better known to history as Marlene Dietrich's daughter. The real fun of this installment, however, is Carol Channing, fresh from her Broadway triumph in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, who shows why "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" was her signature song long before Marilyn Monroe got her mitts on it. There's also an odd maudlin interlude for Berle to sing "I'll Go My Way by Myself," one of the comedian's forays into Chaplinesque pathos. The second episode is a tepid affair built around the theft of a 1954 Buick from centerstage at the NBC studio. Seeing comedienne Dagmar and pulp writer Mickey Spillane on the same stage is a real dose of '50s culture, and there's also Basil Rathbone in his Sherlock Holmes getup. The musical highlight is a Latin production number that should please lounge-music enthusiasts; the dance director for the series was future Hollywood director Herbert Ross. --Robert Horton