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27 user 13 critic

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)

The Bellows family causes comic confusion on an ocean liner, with time out for radio-style musical acts.

Directors:

Mitchell Leisen, James P. Hogan (uncredited)

Writers:

Walter DeLeon (screen play), Francis Martin (screen play) | 4 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
W.C. Fields ... T. Frothingill Bellows / S.B. Bellows
Martha Raye ... Martha Bellows
Dorothy Lamour ... Dorothy Wyndham
Shirley Ross ... Cleo Fielding
Lynne Overman ... Scoop McPhail
Bob Hope ... Buzz Fielding
Ben Blue ... Mike
Leif Erickson ... Bob Hayes (as Leif Erikson)
Patricia Wilder ... Honey Chile
Grace Bradley ... Grace Fielding
Rufe Davis ... Turnkey
Lionel Pape Lionel Pape ... Lord Droopy
Virginia Vale ... Joan Fielding (as Dorothy Howe)
Russell Hicks ... Capt. Stafford
Kirsten Flagstad ... Specialty: the Metropolitan Opera Company
Edit

Storyline

New ocean liner S.S. Gigantic is about to race its rival, the Colossal. Gigantic owner T.F. Bellows sends his brother S.B. on the Colossal, hoping he will cause trouble; delayed by a golf game, S.B. lands on Gigantic instead, and so does his unlucky daughter Martha. Meanwhile, radio emcee Buzz Fielding announces a series of musical acts and tries to juggle fiancée Dorothy and three ex-wives who've come for the ride. Can the Gigantic win against all handicaps? Will true love triumph? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The finest array of entertainment ever offered !


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 March 1938 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Big Broadcast See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As soon as S. B. Bellows hears the voices of the survivors of the sunken Hesperus over the shortwave radio, he exclaims "My brother Jacques!" and "My daughter's own voice!" However, in the credits that chacater's name is shown as Scoop McPhail, not Jacques Bellows. This is just as well, since if he was the brother of S. B. Bellows, Martha Bellows would be guilty of pursuing her uncle. See more »

Quotes

Lord Droopy: Aren't you awake yet?
S.B. Bellows: Ohhhhh! I don't know. I haven't looked yet.
See more »

Connections

Featured in W.C. Fields: Straight Up (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

(I WISH I WAS IN) DIXIE'S LAND
(1860) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Sung a capella by Patricia Wilder
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Uneven hodgepodge has its moments
20 February 2012 | by csteidlerSee all my reviews

The trans-Atlantic race is on between the two great ocean liners, the Colossal and the Gigantic. On board the Gigantic (or is it the Colossal? Not even all of the passengers are sure) is an assortment of characters who present us with a sort of variety show over the course of the voyage:

  • W.C. Fields, ship's owner. He stops on the way to the pier for a game of golf ("Stand clear, keep your eye on the ball," he tells his large team of caddies) and so has to catch up with the ship by flying in on his mini-helicopter. He's nuts. He has a daughter...


  • Martha Raye: According to pop Fields, "She's an unfortunate girl….Seven years ago, she crashed an aeroplane in a mirror factory. Broke 9,831 mirrors."


  • Bob Hope: A radio announcer broadcasting updates on the race, he is accompanied on the journey by his three ex-wives, who intend to prevent prospective wife number four from cutting into their alimony checks ("She can't chisel me down to any 25%....").


  • Dorothy Lamour, who has second thoughts about becoming that fourth wife when she meets…


  • Leif Erickson, handsome and brilliant young engineer who has designed the special propulsion system for the ship.


  • Shirley Ross, one of the ex-wives. She and Hope get to chatting and can't quite remember why they ever divorced in the first place.


The plot is an uneven mishmash, but some good songs stand out. Lamour sings "You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart," a lovely ballad. Raye does one called, "Mama, That Moon Is Here Again," which builds into a wild acrobatic dance in which sailors toss Martha all around the deck. The performance by Hope and Ross of "Thanks for the Memory" is truly excellent—it's a bittersweet song that we all know and yet it actually means something in its context of two old lovers hashing over regrets and falling back in love. It's a wonderfully touching and low key performance.

In between these highlights is a lot of nonsense, some of it amusing. The plot doesn't exactly buzz along—it stops and starts too much before ultimately drawing to a rather hasty resolution at the end of the voyage. It is kind of like of a big broadcast, a radio all star variety program, I suppose. Taken as a whole, it's really not that great a picture—but it's certainly worth seeing for the sake of its numerous highlights.


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