The Big Broadcast of 1938

Rated NR 94 minutes 2001

After a false start in 1932, Paramount's Big Broadcast series was jump-started in late 1935 with The Big Broadcast of 1936. The wisp of a storyline involves two-bit radio station owner Spud (Jack Oakie), who doubles as the station's sole announcer while his comic partner Smiley (Henry Wadsworth) serves as the house crooner. On the verge of bankruptcy, Spud is receptive to the wacky notions of George Burns and Gracie Allen, who've just invented a television device which can pick up and transmit any signal, any time, anywhere. Among the variety artists captured on cathode by George and Gracie's invention are Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Amos 'N' Andy (Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll in blackface), Bill Bojangles Robinson, the Vienna Boys Choir, bandleaders Ray Noble and Ina Ray Hutton, and a knockabout vaudeville act called Willie, West and McGinty, who spend most of the film's running time trying to simultaneously build and demolish a house. The plot evolves into a dry run for the later Hope-Crosby Road pictures, with Spud and Smiley ending up on the intrigue-ridden island governed by zany countess Ysobel de Nargila (Lyda Roberti).~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Film Credits

Director: Mitchell Leisen

Writer: Russel Crouse and Frederick Hazlitt Brennan

Cast: W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour and Shirley Ross

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