The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) is another Paramount Studios ensemble comedy with some of the biggest names of the day. The plot is merely a vehicle to bring you hilarious one-liners and sight gags, along with some mushy romance and a sprinkling of songs.

Two ocean liners race across the Atlantic because… they can. On board the S.S. Gigantic are various interwoven soap operas.

Bob Hope looking handsome.

Buzz (Bob Hope) has three ex-wives and is working on his 4th . He's the radio broadcast host onboard, and his wives follow to collect alimony.

Dorothy (Dorothy Lamour) is engaged to Buzz , but climbs aboard the ship and instantly has the hots for some other guy, who doesn‘t seem to do anything but sit at Lamour’s feet and listen to her sing.

Shirley Ross looks cool and collected next to Bob Hope, while the other two squabble over money.

Shirley Ross plays Buzz’s 1st wife who’s still pining for him. They have that His Girl Friday, I'm-still-in-love-but-I'll-hide-behind-wise-cracks type of relationship.

The other two exes are filler and just fall off the face of the earth.

Buzz and Sucker #1 relax together and sing what would become Hope’s signature tune, “Thanks for the Memory.”

Steering with his feet.

Meanwhile, S.B. Bellows (W.C. Fields) is sent by his brother, the owner of one ship, to make the other ship lose. He doesn’t succeed, but causes general havoc while he’s there. He also makes time with one of Buzz’s castoff wives, but Buzz doesn‘t notice.

Martha: “Oh, won’t you be my Romeo?”
Scoop: “ Yes. We will rehearse the death scene.”

Bellows has a daughter, Martha (Martha Raye), who doesn’t really drive the plot, she’s just there to make us laugh (and she succeeds). Gotta love watching her belt out “That Moon‘s Here Again” to an unwilling potential mate.

Of course, Buzz is reunited with wife #1 and all is well.

In between the storylines are a few numbers from famous musicians and singers, set up as entertainment for the passengers. So you have to sit through a plethora of random songs that have nothing to do with the narrative, except that they are all aboard the same ship.

One of my favorites of these plot-stopping acts is Tito Guizar singing “Don‘t Tell a Secret to a Rose.” The lyrics are corny but Guizar makes them tender, heartfelt and romantic.

Broadcast is perfect for a fun-filled afternoon.
Lileks has a nice review of it here.


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