It's ladies' night at "What's My Line?" Arlene and Dorothy win every round! Martin Gabel is once again a welcome replacement for the vacationing Bennett. The usually wacky Steve Allen seems somewhat off his game, though. Could it be because he'd already used up his best material? This show was taped after his appearance on Episode 501, which may account for the noticeable drop in energy. [Thanks to Suzanne for consulting Fates' production log to verify this.]
The first round went by swiftly, and it was all business. Among the few bright spots: Arlene impishly gives herself a "no" before the lady motorcycle cop has a chance to answer her question. (The answer would have been "yes.") When Steve learns that the contestant's occupation has to do with law, he asks, "Am I under arrest?" Arlene correctly guesses the contestant's line. Then Dorothy kids John that despite an earlier "no" answer, there is in fact a product involved: A ticket! John takes her objection seriously at first, and Dorothy has to explain that she was just kidding. (Now why in the world would anyone think Dorothy was serious?)
Round two is more entertaining. The contestant is a matchmaker, and this leads to some inadvertently funny questions ("Do you deal more with children than adults?"). The audience titters at Arlene's question, "Do you teach or advise in any way?" Watch her reaction -- it's priceless. I don't know why that was so funny, but the audience thought so. Dorothy guesses the occupation.
At the end of the round, Martin graciously salutes the ladies on the panel, saying, "You've been brilliant this evening." Such a gentleman! No wonder Arlene loved him.
Mystery guest Charles Laughton (1899-1962), the legendary British actor-director, enters to tumultuous cheers and applause. The panel guesses him quickly, and it's another win for Arlene. Then Laughton points to Dorothy, saying, "I have a bone to pick with you. You cost me a lot of money. I’ll never carry your bag again!" Turns out he flew to the West Coast on the same plane with Dorothy, and now his wife (actress Elsa Lanchester) wants a fur coat, too. Dorothy says he is a charming traveling companion. and asks if Laughton knew he was going to be on WML. "I DID NOT! I DID NOT!" he thunders.
At one point in the round, John objects with mock horror to Laughton’s use of the term “fixed up." Presumably John was referring to the recent TV quiz show scandals in which contestants were given answers in advance. Laughton mentions his recent appearances in Shakespearean plays in England and says that he will be returning to do more plays in late 1961 and 1962. (Most likely he never got to do these projects as he would have been ill with cancer by that time.) John mentions the wonderful response Laughton has received this evening and Laughton returns the compliment, saying that he and his wife are big fans of WML.
Time for a final contestant, Mr. Cohen. He sells aircraft carriers and battleships. Arlene gets a laugh when she asks if the product's moving parts are “larger than Steve Allen's.” The product can hold people and is used for travel. At this point Martin unknowlingly guesses the product. He asks if it’s a "carrier." But then he runs off the rails again when he thinks it might be a car.
Dorothy asks a puzzling question: Is the product other than an animal? John says he’s never heard of an animal that contains people! John then tells a joke about a priest and a lion that sends Dorothy into paroxysms of laughter. After some more amusing but fruitless questions, Steve almost gets it, but finally John ends the round.
This was a moderately entertaining episode -- not the best, but certainly well worth watching if only for a rare chance to see the personal side of the great Charles Laughton.