The Screen Guild Theater Presents: The Valiant – 1945

valiant

Honorary Bogie Radio Fix:

Radio Fixes

The Lowdown

Bogart was out promoting Conflict when he made this appearance for The Screen Guild Theater, and it’s a real gem.

Adapted from the play of the same name by Robert Middlemess (who also appears here as the warden), this is a tight little radio piece that actually gives Bogart his second chance to do some Shakespeare! (You can check out my other post on his first radio foray into Shakespeare as Hotspur in Henry IV here.)

The Valiant is the story of a prison chaplain (Pedro de Cordoba) and his Warden (author, Robert Middlemiss) who are deeply concerned about the curious case of a death row inmate (Bogart) who only has hours to live. They both know that something seems wrong about him. They don’t think he is who he says he is, but the inmate will not admit anything.

Enter a strange woman (Dorothy McGuire) who claims to be the inmate’s sister. She thinks she can get him to admit his true identity with a little prodding about family memories and a shared love for Shakespeare.

What I Thought

Adapted radio plays tend to be much too abridged from their original stories for my liking, but this one holds up rather well. Yes, they cut out a good chunk of the play in order to fit the time limit, but it doesn’t take away much.

Bogart’s interplay with De Cordoba, Middlemiss, and McGuire is strong, and although it’s easy to see where the story is heading, Bogart’s final lines make for a very powerful payoff to this play.

Was the relationship between McGuire and Bogart a little too romantic considering she thought that they might be brother and sister? Yeah. . . yeah, just a bit. Especially at the end where they share a kiss. Whew. It gets weird.

But this one is certainly a must listen for anyone who likes Old Time Radio or Bogart.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart plays death row inmate James Dyke, and let’s cut to the chase – Bogart has an opportunity at the end of the show to do a little bit from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and it’s really moving stuff considering how little he has to play with. Just like in Henry IV, Bogart’s delivery is strong, clear, and vivid enough that we don’t get lost in the language for a second. Plus, the lines tie in so well with the end of the play that it’ll likely haunt you the rest of the day.

The Cast

Pedro de Cordoba and Robert Middlemiss play The Chaplain and The Warden respectively, and both do a fine job. The real standout though, is Dorothy McGuire as Bogart’s possible sister, Josie. McGuire has the challenging task of playing Josie with an equal amount of love, longing, and deviousness as she tries to subtly pull Bogart’s true identity out from him. And, other than the creepy brother/sister romance that plays out, it’s really compelling stuff.

Bottom Line

Check it out.

 

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