While web surfing for lost gems by Lauren Bacall (may she rest in peace), I stumbled on this review, from a 1951 newspaper, of Bogie and Bacall's performances in Bold Venture.
The couple transcribed the radio series before leaving for the Congo jungle to shoot The African Queen. In that movie, Bogart's portrayal of the rough-and-ready Canadian boat captain Charlie Allnut, for which he won his only Academy Award, is my favorite.
Listening to back-to-back episodes of Bold Venture's raunchy tales of mystery and intrigue, one can hear him developing the character of Allnut.
By John Crosby
Sex, Vioence, And The Bogarts
WHEN LAST heard from, Humphrey Bogart and his wife, Lauren Bacall, accompanied by Katherine Hepburn, were plunging through Africa, making a picture. This must be easily the most picturesque and altogether startling safari on the Dark Continent since David Livingston. I can just see Miss Bacall being established as the white goddess of the lower Congo, Miss Hepburn teaching the natives the proper Hartford (Conn.) accent and Bogie swindling the headhunters out of their firewater.
They ought to make a film out of the expedition itself, which, I'm sure, would be more interesting than what ever dark purpose Mr. Bogart has in mind. I for one would like to see the expression on a zebra's face when it catches its first glimpse of Miss Hepburn. I'd like to hear Miss Bacall's famous line: "I'm hard to get. Just ask me," rendered in Swahili. Ah well, stop dreaming, Crosby.
BEFORE THEY took off for Africa, the Bogarts transcribed an adventure radio series Bold Venture, which is now on the air in about 150 cities.
The network have been trying to entice the Bogarts, whose joint sex appeal could probably sell boxcars on the air for years. They turned down the networks in favor of a transcribed series which offers much less prestige, but on the other hand gives the Bogarts far greater freedom. Freedom, for example, to go off to Africa and make pictures while the radio show puts money in the bank over here.
Bold Venture is not anything that hews out new territory in radio fiction or any other kind of fiction. In fact, if you have ever seen the Bogarts in a picture, you will be pretty well briefed as to their radio show.
The title stems from the name of Mr. Bogart's boat, which he sails all over the Caribbean getting into one scrape after another. Mr. Bogart, thinly disguised under the name of Slate Shannon, is a rough and tough adventurer open for hire to anyone who has sunken gold or other larceny on his mind.
Miss Bacall, known on this show as Sailor Duval, occupies the position - now hold on to your chairs here - of Mr. Bogart's "ward and love interest", it says here in a press release. This is the most dubious relationship to be permitted on the air in my memory and I think "ward and love interest" is the most entertaining euphemism to come along in some time.
Bold Venture opens to the accompaniment of a lot of exotic music which has beads of equatorial sweat all over it. This is to put you in the proper mood for the sex and violence which are to follow.
A fairly recent and typical program involved a search for sunken gold on an island in Flamingo Cay. During this hunt, Miss Bacall got kidnapped by a trigger-happy, sex-mad college boy whose intentions were strictly dishonorable. This left Mr. Bogart in the clutches of a faithless wife whose feelings toward him were hardly maternal.
BEFORE Mr. Bogart's "ward and love interest" got back into the proper arms, the script had been littered with a couple of corpses, one brutal beating administered by Mr. Bogart and a hurricane. All that and buried gold too. What else can you ask?
Miss Bacall's sultry, vibrant voice is as effective on radio as it is on the screen. In fact, if it were any more supercharged than it is, it would blow out a couple of tubes. As to Mr. Bogart's sex appeal, you'll have to check with your wife. He and I are on different wave lengths.
The dialogue employed by these two and by everyone else in the cast is so confoundedly cryptic that you may fall to wondering just who is committing mayhem on whom and why.
I yearn for the restoration of the simple, decorative sentence which tells the audience who, where, when and why but I don't expect it to return in my lifetime. Bold Venture, in short, is a lot of malarkey, but it is fairly restful malarkey, and it contains the Bogarts, who are about as expert as they come to concealing the deficiencies of a script.
Have a good time in Africa, Bogarts, and, if you find some time pick me up a stuffed hippopotamus.
© New York Tribune, 1951
Listen online to Treasure on Flamingo Cay.