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.