East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

On the border with Bogart & Bacall


1And talking about Old Time Radio.

There’s a series about a guy with a boat.
He’s an adventurer, and in the early ’50s he gets involved in a series of intrigues, mysteries and thrilling adventures. He moves on the border between the civilized world and the changing water margin of islands and ports and strange places.
The series takes its name from the name of his boat.

Only it’s not The Corsair – much as the basic premise appears to be the same.
It’s called Bold Venture, and the hero of the piece is Humphrey Bogart.
And there’s Lauren Bacall in it, too!
I can only hang my head and accept the fact that I’ve been trumped.
And I can enjoy the show, of course.

Bogart was never hot about radio dramas, they say, because they were time consuming.
But Bold Venture, that aired in 1951 and lasted for 78 episodes, was what they call a “transcripted” series – in other words, it was not performed live on the air, but taped in studio and then broadcast in syndication.
This was more time-efficient, but apparently pre-recorded shows were not considered quality in the 1930s and 1940s.
On the other hand, Bold Venture featured Bogart.
And Lauren Bacall.

The basic premise: Slate Shannon (Bogart) is the owner of a hotel in Havana, and also runs a boat called Bold Venture. His place is a refuge for assorted lowlives, smugglers, mercenaries and revolutionaries, and his boat is available for odd jobs. He has a sidekick, Sailor Duvall (Bacall), that happens to be his ward1 and his foil.


It’s been pointed out that the series premise borrows heavily from To Have and Have Not, while a character called King Moses (played by spiritual legend Jester Hairston) sort of plays Sam to Bogart’s Rick.
And talking of legends, the episodes were written by Morton Fine – legendary screenwriter of series I loved as a kid, like I Spy and Maverick among many others, and here working in team with Dave Friedkin.

The plots range from murder mysteries to espionage and straightforward adventure, sometimes with a small drop of supernatural (there’s an episode called Voodoo Vendetta).
Of the original 78 30-minutes episodes, 57 survive and are variously available, either as sound files from the fine gentlemen of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group, or on Youtube.

It is not surprising that the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall is the chief of the many strong points in the series. There is such a natural casual attitude in their exchanges, that really brings to life the characters.


The series was originally broadcast through 423 stations all over the USA, and apparently it earned 4000 dollars a week for Bogart & Bacall (out of the 1200 dollars budget for each episode).
Nice job is you can get it, as the poet said.

So yes, Bogart and Bacall and Morton Fine were there before the Corsair.
I can live with that.
I can enjoy the shows.
And steal a few good ideas.

  1. eat your heart out, Bruce Wayne! Lauren Bacall as “girl wonder”… or, in this case, “girl friday”. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “On the border with Bogart & Bacall

  1. Geez they knew how to name characters in those days; Slate Shannon and Sailor Duvall… I could never come up with those in my wildest dreams!


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