What's My Line? ran on CBS from 1950 to 1967 and was later syndicated. The original Mark Goodson & Bill Todman Production remains the longest-running prime-time game show. After guessing the occupation of several contestants, the panel questioned a famous Mystery Guest (first called a Mystery Challenger) each week. While blindfolded, the four-person celebrity panel sought in rotation to determine the identity of this famous contestant by asking only “Yes-No” questions until the round was terminated by a “No” answer. The final “No” ended a possible sequence of up to ten rounds. This year marks fifty years since the game show went off the air.
…And sign-in, please.
Panelist #1 (Anderson): “Dimly and in Flashes” is a movie blog, so let me start by asking you about movies—Are you interested in the movies?
Mystery Guest: Yes. Very interested.
Panelist #1: Have you ever made a movie?
Moderator (Steve): That is one “No” down, nine to go.
Panelist #2 (Wendy): (To audience) How you doin’? (Audience applauds.) Do you routinely go to the movies?
Moderator: Two and counting.
Panelist #3 (Drew): Are you sorry to attend so few movies?
MG: No—but I’m sorry so few movies are made that I want to attend.
Moderator: And that is our third “No” answer.
Panelist #4 (Goldie): Do you know what happened to Bridey Murphy?
MG: What? No.
Panelist #4: I meant Virginia Mae Morrow…
Moderator: Still a “No.”
Panelist #4: …(To Anderson) This is a set-up, dude.
Moderator: We are clearly at four down and six to go.
Panelist #1: I know this—do you think Grace Kelly is the most beautiful screen actress?
Panelist #1: But your favorite movie actress is Myrna Loy, Lana Turner, or Marilyn Monroe?
MG: Yes…one of that trio.
Panelist #1: I told you I have a bead on him; your favorite movie director is Jean Negulesco, right?
MG: Correct. Yes
Panelist #1: Yet you do not think that Negulesco was not the best film Director.
Moderator: A Double Negative means one resounding “No.” The point of no (stressing the negative) return—five down and five to go.
Panelist #4: Wait a minute—I think Anderson should get a “Yes” for that Double Negative answer—Anderson should get another chance!
Panelist #2: (Talking over Goldie—then sarcastically to Anderson) How you doin’? (Audience bursts into laughter.) Do you like musicals?
Panelist #2: But your favorite movie is not a classic Studio-System musical?
MG: No, my favorite movie is not a classic Studio-System musical.
Moderator: I think we’ll have to count Wendy’s “No” as a “Yes.” So it is still five-and-five and counting.
Panelist #1: That’s not fair…(To Goldie) Now Wendy is getting preferential treatment…
Panelist #2: (Cutting off Anderson’s whining) Is your favorite movie a Fred Astaire musical?
Moderator: That’s another “No.” Drew, your turn.
Panelist #3: You like Astaire musicals but you prefer stage, not screen, musicals?
MG: Yes. But how would you know that?
Panelist #3: I do my homework.
MG: (With a flash of optimism) So you read my blog?
Panelist #3: God, no—I just do my homework. And am I correct that Hollywood butchered your favorite musical play?
MG: You did do your homework, Yes.
Panelist #3: Hey, Anderson, looks like I’ve got a bead on this guy… the play is American Psycho?…
Moderator: (As MG shakes his head) That adaptation inversion is a “No.” Goldie.
Panelist #4: I love Amy Schumer—she’s beautiful…(waiting for applause…audience remains silent) I’m on this…Great play—bad movie?…So your favorite Broadway musical is On A Clear Day You Can See Forever?
Moderator: That makes seven “No” answers. Anderson.
Panelist #1: It is my turn. And I know it!! Gypsy—your favorite musical play is Gypsy?
Panelist #1: You like the play Gypsy (with increasing bravura) but not the 1962 movie adaptation. Yet you fear that there could be an even worse version of Gypsy soon on screen?
MG: Right. Yes. You don’t read the blog—how do you know that?
Panelist #1: Nobody reads the blog (Audience explodes into applause.) but everybody knows any Barbara Streisand version of Gypsy would have to be the worst possible movie adaptation that could be produced.
MG: Yes. Definitely
Panelist #1: (Going for blood) In a final special episode of the TV series Looking, protagonist Patrick (Jonathan Groff) summed up Richie’s new boyfriend Brady: “He’s like a blog that nobody reads, but in human form.” Do you understand that reference?
MG: Yes. Painfully.
Panelist #1: (Going in for the kill) More to the point—can you empathize with it? Have you been a readerless blog?
MG: No. Actually—I had one reader, maybe even two. So, No.
Panelist #1: That’s just not fair…I mean, nobody cares about his blog. Single digit readers amount to Nobody, so his “No” answer is a trick, so I should get another question…