Stars in the Air Presents: The House on 92nd Street – 1952


Honorary Radio Bogie Fix:

radio-fixes-2 out of 5 radio Bogies.

The Lowdown

There are a couple mildly good reasons to listen to this broadcast –

First of all, you’ve got Betty Lou Gerson playing the role of Elsa. Anyone who’s a fan of classic Disney films will recognize that name as the original voice of Cruella De Vil. She’s very good in her role and gets to play – get this – a dastardly accented villainess!

Second, based on the true story of William G. SeboldThe House on 92nd Street is actually a very compelling piece of United States history where blind luck led the FBI into stumbling upon a group of Nazi spies sending info back to Germany.

The bad news is that this highly abridged version of the Twentieth Century Fox Film is cut so short that it’s hard to follow the story. Add into the mix that it can become a little tedious and mundane with the heavily fact-loaded narration, and it’s probably worth a listen only if your a Bogart completist.

Long story short, the FBI (which has to be pronounced at every turn as if it’s the most prestigious organization in the world) sends a man undercover to bust some stateside Nazis. Things get hairy. There’s a bit of a twist ending. The Nazis get what’s coming to them. And, oh! By the time this one’s over, you’ll never want to hear the phrase “pointed patent leather shoes” again.

Again, unless you’re an Old Time Radio die hard who just can’t get enough of Bogart, you should probably stick with the film, or even a trip into history with the real story.

The Bogart Factor

Relegated to mostly narration work, Bogart plays Inspector Briggs, the FBI man in charge of the undercover agent who’s sent into to spy on the Nazis. He’s fine, although he doesn’t have much to work with. You’d be better off popping in The Enforcer if you want a good dose of Bogie the lawman.

The Cast

Keefe Brasselle plays Bill, the undercover man for the FBI. Brasselle probably has the most to work with here as far as the script goes, but he’s still hampered by the abridged running time.

Betty Lou Gerson is your stereotypical German ice queen, Elsa. You know what, though? If you’ve got to hear a villain, it might as well be Cruella De Vil, right?

The Bottom Line

I think I’ve said it all. Although, broadcast in 1952 after Bogart’s Oscar win for The African Queen, it is fun to hear a war bonds commercial in the middle about holding onto your bonds as long as possible rather than the usual ramble about buying them!


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