A cream-of-the-crop gathering of 1930's radio stars, who lend themselves to a storyline about a failing radio station which needs to put on a huge ratings winner to have any chance of ... See full summary »
A cream-of-the-crop gathering of 1930's radio stars, who lend themselves to a storyline about a failing radio station which needs to put on a huge ratings winner to have any chance of continued operation. An interesting mixture of the stars whose fame continued to grow, those who became bit players in show business history, and those who have been forgotten entirely, except at the Internet Movie Database of course! Written by
Shortly after arriving in the US from Germany, Oskar Fischinger was contracted by Paramount Pictures to create an animated sequence (in Technicolor or Gasparcolor; sources differ) for this movie. The movie was scored to a jazz piece, "Radio Dynamics", by studio musician Ralph Rainger. Unfortunately, Paramount switched the production to black-and-white, and Fischinger's animation became a sequence within the film, showing consumer products emanating from a radio broadcasting tower, rather than pure abstract imagery. Fischinger later released his color version as Allegretto (1936). See more »
I found this to be the most entertaining of all the "Big Broadcast" movies. This isn't saying much, since these films were mainly just mash-ups of all the big names in radio that year, doing sketches independently of one another and strung together into a movie.
This one, however, has a very strong and entertaining plot. Jack Benny plays a sardonic radio executive, with Ray Milland as his slightly oilier second-in-command. George Burns and Gracie Allen play radio sponsors, which is just an excuse to trot them out and do their shtick (but what a great shtick it was). Shirley Ross plays the young ingénue who comes to New York to find stardom on the radio.
It was probably Ross who impressed me the most, she seems to have been a very funny actress with a great singing voice. It's a pity she didn't have more of a career in films.
Jack Benny, I think, was better suited to playing the wise-cracking supporting character -- as he did in this film -- as compared to the leading man. He was not a very good actor and had a lifelong difficulty memorizing lines. He was great here, though, playing a sarcastic cynic, a character in direct contrast with the miserly wannabe character he played on the radio.
It is also worth noting that I think this is Benny's only film pairing with his best friend, George Burns. The two don't have much to do together, but it's nice to see, just the same.
A final note: Bob Burns also has a very funny role in this movie as a Hillbilly who keeps interrupting radio shows trying to find Leopold Stokowski. He wants to find the maestro to show him a musical instrument he has invented. It is a long black tube that you blow into. Burns used it on his own radio show. He called it a "bazooka." Turns out, that's where the weapon got it's name. See how much we owe to radio?
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