The Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show – 1943

McCarthy, Bergen

My Review

—A Very Funny Guest Appearance—

Honorary Bogie Fix:

Radio Fixes out of 5 Radio Bogies!

The Lowdown

Sponsored by Chase & Sanborn Coffee, Bogart shows up to chat with Charlie McCarthy about opening up a new “high class” prison while promoting his latest film, Conflict.

What I Thought

This show might tie the Lux Radio Theater broadcast of The African Queen as my favorite radio appearance by Bogart so far. While he opens the show with Charlie McCarthy to shill war bonds, Bogart later reappears in the show to play up his mythic gangster persona in a sketch (as himself) with McCarthy where they discuss buying a prison and running it for elite criminals. The Graystone Plaza, perhaps? The Handcuffed Arms?

While the piece has a couple of jokes that most would consider groaners, it’s actually pretty clever and Bogart doesn’t shirk away one bit from pretending that he’s just as much a hood in real life as he is in the movies. It might sound odd, but even though it’s just audio, Bogart has amazing chemistry with McCarthy. Should ventriloquism work this well on the radio?

I’ve always been a fan of Bergen’s act in my limited exposure to it, and this show is an easy listen with some great comedy writing. Even if you didn’t know that half of Bergen’s act is a puppet, you’d still have a few good laugh-out-loud moments.

On top of that, Bergen and McCarthy do a sketch about McCarthy’s salary, Dale Evans shows up to sing They’re Either Too Young or Too Old, and there’s a pretty funny sketch about an old man who wants to become America’s next singing sensation.

The Bogart Factor

Good grief did this guy know how to cameo! It never ceases to amaze me that Bogart seemed so willing to keep his tough guy image going. And it’s not just that he plays himself as tough, he actually claims to be a gun toting, bank robbing, murderous crook just like in his films. McCarthy thinks that they’ll need a high profile criminal to really make their prison work, and Bogart is honored to be a big enough “rat” to be considered.

If you really love to hear Bogart flexing his comedic muscles, this might be the best place to do it. His timing and chemistry with McCarthy is perfect, and true to form, Bogart works in a promotion for supporting the war effort right off the bat. This one is a must hear for any Bogart diehards out there!

The Cast

Edgar Bergen plays himself and Charlie McCarthy. When I first started this post, I actually listed McCarthy separately as another cast member . . . Yup, I’m a sucker for ventriloquism. Bergen is at his finest here, and it must have been a thrill for the studio audience to see two entertainment legends interact like this. Bergen’s timing is outstanding, especially considering that he’s essentially having a conversation with himself, and with Bogart, as a completely separate person.

Dale Evans plays herself as she sings They’re Either Too Old or Too Young. It’s cute enough. I don’t know much about Evans other than her partnership with Roy Rogers, but she has a good voice.

Classic Bogie Moment

He plays a hood, cracks wise at his own expense, and seems to be putting 100% into the script. What more do you want from a cameo? Bogart definitely steals the show here as he asks McCarthy to shake hands by asking him to “Mitt me, pal” and “Pump the palm.” But my favorite exchange comes with the way that Bogart is able to set up McCarthy for a punch line by overplaying his backstreet accent:

Bogart: Now look, see.

McCarthy: Ya.

Bogart: I made a high class joint, see.

McCarthy: Ya.

Bogart: Cater to a more refined class of crooks, see.

McCarthy: Oh, si, si, si!

The Bottom Line

It’s one of the few podcasts that I’ve downloaded onto my Ipod that I plan on keeping forever.

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