On this episode of Movies Are Magic, we are going to the Florida Keys, to Key Largo, specifically.
The other night, I saw my friend Eddie Muller, the Czar of Noir himself, at the gorgeous Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland for the 20th anniversary kickoff of Noir City, a film festival dedicated to screening film noir in movie palaces around the country. I was there for a screening of the 1948 film KEY LARGO. Key Largo is atmospheric, fascinating and was the last time we got to see Bogey and Bacall on screen together. So the film stars Humphrey Bogart, Edward G Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor. Clare Trevor won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of an aging alcoholic.
In honor of seeing that fabulous film in a grand theatre palace of the past, tonight on Movies Are Magic with Jennifer, we’re going to hear from the iconic Lux Radio Theatre. This one-hour radio version of KEY LARGO aired in November 1949, about a year after the film was released. Apparently they couldn’t get Bogey and Bacall for this episode, but several of the film cast are here.
According to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group, Lux Radio Theatre was the biggest, most important, most expensive drama anthology program on radio. Ever. It ran 1934 until 1955, then continued on television as Lux Video Theatrefor a couple of years after that. In total, about 926 episodes were broadcast.
Lux Radio Theatre was always broadcast live, with a studio audience and a full orchestra accompanying the performance and providing musical transitions between scenes. Edward G. Robinson stars as gangster Johnny Rocco, returning to the United States to start his rackets once again. Also starring Claire Trevor, Dan Seymour, Edmond O'Brien, and intermission guest seventeen-year-old Debbie Reynolds. Here’s KEY LARGO, the Lux Radio Theatre version from 1949.
This episode of Movies Are Magic with Jennifer originally aired live on KSVY 91.3 FM Sonoma on Sunday, January 22, 2023.
Movies Are Magic with Jennifer host Jennifer Churchill also hosts Classic Films For Kids on The Film Detective. Check out her children's book Movies Are Magic: The Director’s Cut.