Lux Radio Theater Presents – Moontide – 1945

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Honorary Radio Bogie Fix:

Radio Fixes

The Lowdown

An alcoholic boatman (Bogart) rescues a suicidal woman (Virginia Bruce) and they try to use their relationship to escape the boatman’s checkered past.

What I Thought

This one’s a real hidden gem that I’d never heard of until it popped up as a recommendation on my Spotify account.

While most radio adaptions of famous films get the short shrift of 30 minutes or less, Lux gives this one plenty of room to breath with it’s 55 minute running time. Hosted by Mark Hellinger, the producer of the original 1942 film starring Jean Gabin and Ida Lupino, Hellinger was responsible for producing quite a few of Bogart’s film’s over his career.

Perhaps the most surprising moments come during the show’s intro when Hellinger describes his first encounters with a young stage comedian name Humphrey Bogart. Towards the end of the show, we get Bogart and Hellinger together again talking about Bogart’s comedic days on stage, and it’s interesting to consider that Bogart may have lived a good chunk of his life working towards roles that were the antithesis of his gun toting tough guys or ex-pat drinkers.

The broadcast also benefits from an elevation in cast as we get Humphrey Bogart over the film’s original Jean Rabin. I’m not knocking Rabin, but Bogart rarely gave anything less than his best to his radio performances, and his work here is as good as any other radio he’s done.

Bogart plays Bobo, a bait fisherman who occasionally gets blackout drunk and forgets whether or not he might have murdered someone. He plays the part with plenty of wary pause and reluctance – much like a man at the end of his his rope might behave, and the tension raised by the did he do it or not dramatics within his relationship to Virginia Bruce make the love story crackle.

Would I rather have heard Ida Lupino recreate her role? Of course. I have a big crush on Ms. Lupino, and it would have been nice to hear her voice. But then again, I can always go back to the original film, right?

There is a portrayal of an Asian bait fisherman that is insensitive by today’s standards, but other than that, this one’s worth checking out if you can find it!

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Lux Radio Theater – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – 1949

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My Review

—Huston and Bogart are Awesome—

Producer: William Keighley

Honorary Bogie Radio Fix:

5 radio out of 5 Bogies!

The Lowdown

Two down-on-their-luck men pool their resources with an old prospector to search for gold in Mexico. You can read my original write up on the film here.

What I Thought

Lux Radio Theater pulled off a really well done adaption of the film this time around, as Walter Huston and Bogart both reprise their original roles. Of all the radio versions of films that I’ve covered for the blog so far, this one’s got to come close to most listens on my iPod, perhaps only rivaled by Bogart and Greer Garson’s adaption of The African Queen.

Essential to this greatly shortened adaption (coming in at less than an hour) is the choice to have Walter Huston’s character, Howard, narrate the story rather than some stock radio announcer. It gives the listener a much stronger character insight into Huston while serving as more than just plot advancement for the portions of the film that had to be removed.

There are a handful of actors portraying Mexican children, bandits, and natives that probably over-stereotype the accents a bit, but I suppose it’s forgivable considering the era in which it was produced. I only wish that we could have a resource for the complete cast lists of these adaptions as I would love to give credit to some of the other actors besides Bogart and Huston. The actor who took over the role for Tim Holt does a great job here, but I wasn’t able to find his name anywhere.

The Bogart Factor

With a much shorter running time, I thought it was a lot of fun to discover a slightly tweaked character for Bogart’s Fredd C. Dobbs here. With a shortened script comes more compact lines, and this leads us to see Dobbs as a much more unstable character far earlier into the story than what we saw in the film. It completely changes the character dynamics between Dobbs and Huston’s old prospector (which I’ll dive into a bit deeper below) and it makes a wonderful complimentary piece to the original film.

I’ve said it for every Bogart radio performance so far and I’ll say it again, he knew how to bring 100% to these audio versions of his films and it’s a joy to hear him recreate the roles!

The Cast

Walter Huston reprises his role as Howard, the crusty old prospector that’s been parodied countless times over the years since he gave his amazing performance for this film. Just like Huston steals the silver screen version, this entire adaption is his playground to rule as well. He sounds like he’s having a ton of fun as he holds nothing back narrating the story and interacting with Bogart and the other actors. The final scene in which he and the other actor realize that the gold is gone and they begin to laugh has a wonderful moment in which they stop for just a fraction of a second, we think it’s over, and then they begin to howl again. It was a great choice to make and Huston seems to be playing for a slightly crazier version of the film’s original character.

I also noted in my film write up that Bogart and Huston seem to be playing the devil and angel on Tim Holt’s respective shoulders as they show him both sides of humanity’s potential for greed and madness. Here though, Huston’s portrayal comes off as much more unstable, leading us to believe that the third young prospector, Curtain, is not only the most sane man in the mountains, but also a less important character overall.

I would love to be able to credit the men who played both Curtain and Cody, and perhaps some Old Time Radio lover out there can lead me to complete cast list!

Classic Bogie Moment

It must have been a real thrill to see Bogart live on stage recreating his most famous roles. One fun little surprise from this adaption was the actual crowd laughter that followed this line:

Bogart: Fred C. Dobbs ain’t a guy that likes being taken advantage of. We got no real choice at all. Bump him off!

They’re clearly not laughing because Bogart’s playing it for laughs. It’s just such a wonderfully shocking reading of the line that gives us a full perspective of how far Bogart’s willing to go in order to keep his full interests in the gold. No one could threaten a life as well as Bogie!

The Bottom Line

Probably the best radio adaption of a Bogart film that I’ve heard so far.

Lux Radio Theater – Bullets or Ballots – 1939

My Sign

My Review

—Great for Robinson Fans— 

Producer:  Cecil B. DeMille 

Honorary Bogie Fix:

Radio Fixes 2 out of 5 Radio Bogies!

The Lowdown

A cop (Edward G. Robinson) goes undercover to bust up the organization of a big time racketeer (Otto Kruger).  All the while, he has to keep his numbers running gal pal (Mary Astor) happy while trying to steer clear of a gun toting henchman (Humphrey Bogart).

What I Thought

I’m really getting into these Lux Radio Theater recreations of some of Hollywood’s most classic movies – especially when the original stars are on hand to recreate their roles.  Here we have Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart reprising their roles from the film, and while Joan Blondell doesn’t reappear, she is replaced by Mary Astor and it’s pretty satisfying to hear her work with Bogart again.

Robinson, much like Bogart, translates perfectly to the radio.  Whenever he’s speaking, it sounds just like audio from the film.  It didn’t give me the same classic film fix that the radio versions of The African Queen or To Have or Have Not did, but it’s listenable, and it’ll probably get another play on my next long car drive.

There’s a fun, and very staged, interview with a real criminologist during the intermission, and Cecil B. DeMille is producing, so he does the introductions.  Plenty of advertisements are made for Lux Toilet Soap.  The only real complaint that I had was that this show wasn’t taped in front of a live audience, so anytime there’s applause, it’s clearly just DeMille and a couple of stage hands, making the production seem a little bit smaller.

Plus, character actor Frank McHugh isn’t back to play his role from the film, which is always a loss!

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s back as ‘Bugs’ Fenner, and unfortunately the part seems to have been trimmed back quite a bit.  It’s neat to hear him recreate the role, but when you don’t get to see him brooding in the background during all the gangster scenes, the lack of menace is a noticeable loss for the production.

He sounds just like the ‘Bugs’ from the film and it’s always fun to hear Bogart interact with Robinson, but there’s not quite enough here for a solid Bogart fix if you need one.

The Cast

Edward G. Robinson is the undercover cop, Johnny Blake.  Robinson’s a professional, and he seems to be putting in as much energy for the radio show as he did for the film.  If you’re a Robinson fan, you’ll certainly enjoy the broadcast.

Mary Astor is the numbers running racketeer Lee Morgan.  The part’s been trimmed from when Blondell had the role, so there’s not a whole lot to work with here.  But we get to hear her team with Bogart again, and the two have a couple of good scenes together!

Otto Kruger is playing the role that Barton MacLane played in the film, racketeer Al Kruger.   Again, with the roles trimmed for radio, he doesn’t get a lot of time to shine, and frankly, who can live up to MacLane?  The guy was great in the film!

Classic Bogie Moment

There weren’t really enough scenes for anything to pop out, but like in my review of the film, I’d like to point out that ‘Bugs’ was right the whole time!  Blake was still working for the cops, and if Kruger and the rest of the gang had just listened, they would have been a lot happier – and alive!

How many times was one of Bogart’s gangsters actually smarter than his cohorts, and yet he still always seemed to end up at the wrong end of a gun.  Oh, well . . .

The Bottom Line

Worth a listen if you’re a Robinson fan or if you’d like to hear Astor and Bogart get back together for a few scenes.

Lux Radio Theater – To Have and Have Not – 1946

THAHN Radio2

My Review

—Recaptures a Lot of the Fun— 

Producer:  William Keighley 

Honorary Bogie Fix:

Radio Fixes out of 5 Honorary Bogies!

The Lowdown

Charter boat captain Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) works as a fishing guide for tourists in Fort de France, Martinique during World War II and does his best to stay out of the way of both the Axis and the Allies.  When he begins to fall for young grifter Marie Browning (Lauren Bacall), Morgan takes a dangerous job transporting members of the French resistance so that he can make enough money to buy Browning a ticket home.

What I Thought

This is the second Lux Radio Theater program that I’ve listened to for the blog, and once again, I found it thoroughly enjoyable.  Unlike Lux’s version of The African Queen, the cast for this one is slightly larger, and so it does come off sounding a bit more like a radio play rather than actual audio from the film.  Regardless, Bogart and Bacall are great, and as I’ve already listened to the recording a half a dozen times on car trips, I’d highly recommend a listen if you’re a Bogart fan or a fan of Classic Hollywood.

The 1 hour and 40 minute film is pared down to about 50 minutes, so there’s a lot from the movie that’s cut out.  Hoagy Carmichael’s “Cricket” is gone from this version, as is all of the music from the nightclub/hotel where Bogart stays.  The parts of “Frenchy” and “Captain Renard” are also condensed considerably for the broadcast.  What’s left is mostly the interactions and relationships between Bogart and Bacall, and the actor playing Walter Brennan’s “Eddie.” (It’s probably Tim Graham, Jack Kruschen, or George Sorell – I found a partial cast list but not who played which parts.)  Still, what remains is often wonderful – and the Walter Brennan impersonator is spot on!

I do feel like Morgan comes off as a less sympathetic character here though, as we lose all of Bogart’s mannerisms, wry grins, and longing stares from the film.  Morgan’s motives in the movie seem much more altruistic than they do in this production, as it really sounds as if he’s taking the job with the French resistance strictly for the money.

At the end of the show, in the “candid” moment onstage between Bogart and Bacall, we find out that this broadcast was taped in order to promote their 1946 film, The Big Sleep.

The Bogart Factor

While listening to this broadcast, I started to think about all of the wonderful things that I’ve read about Bogart’s early stage career.  None of those early theater shows were taped, so we’ll never get to see how good he was on stage – BUT – I think that these radio broadcasts are probably a pretty good example.  Taped in front of a live studio audience in one take (you even occasionally hear Bogart flub, and correct, a line or two), Bogart recreates Harry Morgan with such precision that it’s easy to forget you’re listening to a radio show and not the audio from the film whenever he’s talking.  Like I mentioned before, I think the fact that we don’t get to see a lot of Bogart’s trademark mannerisms keeps us from getting some of the more subtle subtext that he could convey with a sarcastic look or an intimidating glare.

I would highly recommend this one if you’re a big Bogart fan.  There’s plenty to love in his performance.

The Cast

Lauren Bacall reprises her role as Marie “Slim” Browning.  While she does just fine in the radio version and still has a lot of chemistry with Bogart, it is a little more obvious that she’s not as comfortable behind the mic/onstage as he is.

Tim Graham does an amazing impression of Walter Brennan’s drunk Eddie from the film and makes this recording worth a listen on his own.  And Jack Kruschen, and George Sorell fill out the cast as Inspector Renard and Gerard respectively.

Classic Bogie Moment

Four words:

“Go ahead, slap me!”

The Bottom Line

Need a Bogart fix on the road or on a plane?  Download it as a podcast.  You won’t be sorry.

Lux Radio Theater – The African Queen – 1952

African Queen Radio

My Review

—Great Way to Spend a Car/Plane Ride—

*This is post #2 in my African Queen trilogy of posts.  Post #1 on the actual film can be found here.* 

Honorary Bogie Fix:

Radio Fixes out of 5 Honorary Bogies!

The Lowdown

Canadian boat captain Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) helps a Christian missionary(Greer Garson) leave an African village as the Germans take control during the first World War.

What I Thought

Can you imagine movie stars of this day and age promoting their films by recreating abbreviated versions for the radio?  Bogart did it multiple times, and although Katherine Hepburn is replaced by Greer Garson in the role of Rose here, it’s still a lot of fun, and a great way to kill a car ride or plane trip if you’re one of those people who prefer podcasts to music.

Taped before a live audience, Bogart and Garson crank up the roles of Charlie and Rose considerably for the audio-only crowd.  As colorful as Bogart was for the film version, he’s even more goofy and eccentric here.  It makes sense, considering the entire story now has to happen in our minds as we listen along, and both actors are forced to rely only on their spoken words to get the message across.

Intermittently, we get spots for Lux Toilet Soap (it’s how Esther Williams and Zsa Zsa Gabor keep their complexions so healthy, dontcha know!), and a teaser for the following week’s production of Les Miserables.  There’s also a short, very scripted, “off the cuff” moment with Bogart and Garson after the curtain call that is kind of a shocking reminder about how completely staged Classic Hollywood could look and sound in its “candid” moments.

Unlike a lot of radio theater from the time, there were multiple moments where I forgot that I wasn’t listening to the audio from the actual film.  I really enjoyed this broadcast.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart throws himself into the radio version of Charlie Allnut just as much as he did in the filmed version.  He’s quirky, charming, goofy, and just a little bit off of his rocker.  It all makes for a lot of fun as he and Greer Garson have decent chemistry together, and we get to re-enjoy the courtship of two great film characters.

Other than a couple very minor roles, Bogart and Garson carry the entire broadcast as they talk their way down the river, and they both seem to be enjoying themselves immensely.  I continue to maintain that Bogart was one of most professional actors I’ve ever seen, always giving 100% to every role, no matter how small or strange.

The Cast

Greer Garson plays Rose Sayer, and while she’s no Katherine Hepburn, she does a good job.  Garson’s version of the English missionary is even more prim, proper, and enunciation-obsessed than Hepburn’s, as she really plays up Rose’s stuffiness for the radio, and she capably handles herself alongside Bogart .  My only complaint would be that Garson lacks the tough side of Rose, and errs too greatly in the direction of British snob.

Classic Bogie Moment

What’s so great about Bogart in the film version is that he truly held nothing back in his quirky and eccentric portrayal of Charlie Allnut – the captain who starts a little off-his-rocker even before the river drives him over the edge.

What’s even more fun about the radio broadcast is that Bogart gets to turn it up a notch as he plays for both a live crowd, and a crowd that can only hear his voice.  This means that when it’s time to get drunk, he gets silly drunk, singing “The Bold Fisherman” with slightly more zest and bravado than the film version.  We’ve seen a slurring, droopy-eyed, drunk Bogart quite a few times in film, but this is a sloppy, giddy, off-the-wall, plastered Bogart, and it’s a blast.

The Bottom Line

Have an hour?  Take a listen.  It’s a lot of fun to hear Bogart having so much fun.