The Big Broadcast of 1938, starring W. C. Fields, Bob Hope, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, Dorothy Lamour, Ben Blue
Editorial review of The Big Broadcast of 1938 courtesy of Amazon.com
The Big Broadcast of 1938 is a Paramount Pictures film featuring W. C. Fields and Bob Hope. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, the film is the last in a series of Big Broadcast movies that were variety show anthologies. This film featured the debut of Hope’s signature song, “Thanks for the Memory” by Ralph Rainger. In what is being billed as “The Race of the Ages,” the new forty-million-dollar “radio powered” ocean liner S.S. Gigantic (“America’s Challenge for Crossing Record”) is about to race its rival, the slightly smaller S.S. Colossal across the Atlantic from New York’s Pier 97 to Cherbourg in two-and-a-half days.
Gigantic owner T. Frothingill “T.F.” Bellows (W.C. Fields) intends to send his nearly identical younger brother S.B. (also Fields) to sail aboard the Colossal, hoping he will cause trouble and sabotage the rival ship, enabling the Gigantic and his own Bellows Line to win. However S.B., who is held back due to a golf game, ends up flying over the ocean to meet the Colossal en route and mistakenly lands aboard the deck of the Gigantic instead, much to the consternation of Captain Stafford (Russell Hicks).
Matters are made worse for the Gigantic when S.B.’s outrageously unlucky daughter Martha (Martha Raye) is brought onboard, being rescued after surviving the shipwreck of the yacht, Hesperus V. Popular OBC radio emcee Buzz Fielding (Bob Hope), who has just been released from “alimony jail” and is broadcasting live from the Gigantic, is trying to juggle his three ex-wives Cleo (Shirley Ross), Grace (Grace Bradley), and Joan (Lorna Gray); his lukewarm girlfriend Dorothy Wyndham (Dorothy Lamour); and his inept microphone assistant Mike (Ben Blue). Buzz does his best throughout the voyage to announce the progress of the race and introduce a series of musical acts for the pleasure of the passengers and OBC’s radio audience.
Cast of characters
- W.C. Fields (It’s a Gift, My Little Chickadee) … T. Frothingill Bellows / S.B. Bellows
- Martha Raye (Billy Rose’s Jumbo, Alice in Wonderland 1985) … Martha Bellows
- Dorothy Lamour (Road to Bali, The Greatest Show on Earth) … Dorothy Wyndham
- Shirley Ross (Manhattan Melodrama) … Cleo Fielding
- Lynne Overman (Roxie Hart) … Scoop McPhail
- Bob Hope (The Ghost Breakers, The Facts of Life) … Buzz Fielding
- Ben Blue (Panama Hattie) … Mike
- Leif Erickson (Night Monster) … Bob Hayes
- Patricia Wilder (Thanks for the Memory) … Honey Chile
- Grace Bradley … Grace Fielding
- Rufe Davis … Turnkey
- Lionel Pape … Lord Droopy
- Virginia Vale … Joan Fielding
- Russell Hicks (Scarlet Street) … Capt. Stafford
- Don’t Tell a Secret to a Rose (1937). Music by Ralph Rainger, Lyrics Leo Robin. Sung by Tito Guízar
- Noche de Ronda (Be Mine Tonight) (1935). Written by Maria Teresa Lara.Sung by Tito Guízar
- Brunnhilde’s Battle Cry (1870)From Die Walküre, act 2 scene 1, Written by Richard Wagner. Sung by Kirsten Flagstad. Conducted by Wilfrid Pelletier.
- (I Wish I was in) Dixie’s Land (1860) Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett. Sung a capella by Patricia Wilder.
- Love in Bloom (1934) Music by Ralph Rainger, Lyrics by Leo Robin. Sung a capella a bit by Lynne Overman.
- Thanks for the Memory (1937) Music by Ralph Rainger, Lyrics Leo Robin. Sung by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.
- Mama, that Moon is Here Again (1937) Music by Ralph Rainger, Lyrics Leo Robin. Sung by Martha Raye, Arranged by Fletcher Henderson.
- The Waltz Lives On (1937) Music by Ralph Rainger, Lyrics Leo Robin. Performed by Shirley Ross, chorus, and dancers
- Charleston (1925) Music by James P. Johnson, Lyrics by Cecil Mack. Performed by chorus and Ben Blue with dancers
- Trucking’ (They’re Going Hollywood in Harlem) (1935) Written by Rube Bloom, Lyrics Ted Koehler. Performed by Martha Raye and dancers
- At a Georgia Camp Meeting (1897) Music and Lyrics by Kerry Mills. Performed by chorus and dancers