—Drastically Abridged, but It Works!—
Honorary Bogie Fix:
For my synopsis of the storyline from Across the Pacific, you can read my original write up on the film here.
What I Thought
I know that I probably don’t need to say this, but you should definitely watch the film before listening to the broadcast. Some of the bigger plot twists and character motivations are given away in the opening segment by the narrator. From the very beginning we know who’s who and what they’re after.
That being said, I can’t really explain why this radio broadcast works so well. Almost all of the actual action has been removed from the story except for two key scenes – one in which Bogart is knocked unconscious, and the big shoot out at the end – but the conversations between the three main leads keep things humming along at a crisp enough pace that you don’t notice.
We also get another taste of Bogart as the narrator, albeit briefly, when his character of Rick Leland breaks the fourth wall and interrupts the actual narrator to move the story along at the beginning. It’s not nearly as much narration as he had during The Maltese Falcon broadcast a few weeks ago, but it’s kind of fun, despite the fact that he essentially spoils all of the film’s big surprises in order to jump ahead in the story.
What really makes this radio broadcast work is the chemistry and conversations between the three main leads. Bogart and Astor seem to be just as smitten as in the original film, and Bogart and Greenstreet share so many sparks while working alongside one another that they could probably read the phone book and it would be captivating. While this version of the story may not be as action packed as its source material, the writing is sharp and it gives us some of the best bits of dialogue from the film.
The Japanese stereotyping is still here, as it’s pretty central to the story, but it’s not nearly as heavy as it was in the film since we don’t get a visual on the characters. Although, when Rick’s buddy Sam shows up, the accent is more than a little over the top.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the film you’ll find this an easy listen at just a little over half an hour.
The Bogart Factor
I downloaded this one from the Warner Archive Podcast, and unlike a lot of other classic radio broadcasts that survive from that era, this one’s crystal clear. There’s a few times we hear the studio audience (see below for one example), and it reminds me again how lucky these folks were to have the chance to see these cinema legends firsthand recreating iconic roles.
There are no stutters or dropped lines here, as Bogart seems especially laid back behind the microphone. Again, he’s brought his A-game to the broadcast and gives 100%.
This is the film that sold me on Mary Astor, and while her part is significantly shortened for the radio, she’s great here. I love the fact that she can deliver her lines in such a way that I feel like I can actually hear when she’s smiling. Out of the three Astor broadcasts that I’ve listened to thus far, this one’s been my favorite as she really sounds just as attractive as Bogart’s dialogue makes her out to be.
Sydney Greenstreet is the real scene stealer here as so much of Bogart’s time is spent in exposition. His laugh is much more subdued than it was in The Maltese Falcon radio broadcasts, but there is such joy in the delivery of his lines that I am once again envious of everyone who ever got to see him do live theater.
Classic Bogie Moment
Well, it seems that every classic Bogart film has at least one drunk Bogie scene. I’m ready to state that every great Bogart radio appearance has at least one knocked out Bogie groan. Not only does he get knocked out, but it takes two hits from Greenstreet’s goon, so we get double the groans before he hits the floor! Unlike the knockout in the Falcon broadcasts though, the audience here giggles a bit. What happened on stage to make them titter? We’ll never know!
The Bottom Line
This certainly won’t quench a healthy thirst for a Bogart Fix, but it’s a nice way to spend a short drive.