Love Is on the Air (1937)
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Instead it is the film debut of former radio announcer Ronald Reagan playing a radio commentator who is getting the gangsters in his city all kinds of nervous with his hard hitting expose. But his sponsor Addison Richard is in league with those selfsame gangsters led by Ben Welden. He pressures station owner Robert Barrat to pull the plug on Reagan's show, but Ron's got a contract. Never mind the owner just assigns him to a kiddie show that June Travis formerly had.
Of course she's all kinds of put out, but Ron's charm wins her over in a number of ways and oddly enough the kid's show provides him with a lead that eventually busts the racketeer control wide open.
Casting Reagan as a radio commentator was no big acting stretch for him, but this did show the wisdom of Warner Brothers in developing new talent by giving them comfortable surroundings. Reagan's likability did the rest in this very easy to take B programmer based in part on Paul Muni's film Hi Nellie from a few years before.
The Gipper's fans ought to be pleased.
As expected, the creamery owner disappears permanently before Andy can get the details, and since the mob has the creamery's auditor on the hook for a big gambling debt, they get him to cook the books to make it look like Copelin stole the creamery's money and disappeared because of the theft. Andy gets on the air and broadcasts what he thinks really happened to Copelin and who he thinks is responsible, although he has no proof. The mob has strings in high places including Andy's station's sponsor, and Andy gets pulled from his crime beat to hosting the station's kiddie show. How will all of this work out? Watch and find out.
This one has some interesting twists on the original script - for one thing Reagan cheerily makes lemonade out of the lemons he is handed with the kiddie show assignment, unlike Paul Muni's character in "Hi, Nellie" who drank heavily to handle his demotion. An interesting parallel - Robert Barrat plays a big role in both films. Other than Barrat and Reagan there are no Warner stars or contract players of note that show up here, so it is impressive how Reagan pulls this thing off pretty much single-handed. Recommended as one of the better Warner B films of the 30's.
While this is a very slight film and there isn't a lot to make it stand out from the crowd, LOVE IS IN THE AIR was a very good start for Reagan. This was his first film and he came off pretty well and less wooden than he did in a few of his later films. He was good as a fast-talking yet likable radio star--not much of a departure, as he had been a radio announcer before being discovered by Hollywood. Plus, as a "time passer", it's pretty watchable and interesting--especially considering it was pretty much a B-film with very low expectations from Warner Brothers Studio.
Reagan is fine, likable and charming. My only complaint was the constant yelling of his lines, but that was undoubtedly because of Warner Bros. Most of the lead actors in their 'B' films at the time did this, and even some in their 'A' films. The title makes no sense really. It implies the film is a romantic comedy and it's not. This is a watchable way to pass an hour. Remake of Paul Muni's "Hi, Nellie."
** (out of 4)
The title has nothing to do with this "B" picture from Warner, which features Ronald Reagan in his debut. Reagan plays a hot shot radio broadcaster who decides to use the airways to bring down racketeers but this gets him into trouble with his boss and puts his life on the line by the bad guys. This 61-minute film goes by pretty fast but in the end it's pretty light on story, action and acting. Reagan is decent in his first film, although at times it seems like he's trying to do an impersonation of James Cagney. The supporting cast is mostly forgettable and there's really nothing that stands out here among the various other "B" films of its type.