AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Big Broadcast of 1938
Director: Mitchell Leisen (Dir)
Release Date:   18 Feb 1938
Production Date:   mid-Sep--early Dec 1937
Duration (in mins):   88, 90 or 97
Duration (in feet):   8,152
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   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 Erikson (Bob Hayes)  
    Patricia Wilder (Honey Chile)  
    Grace Bradley (Grace Fielding)  
    Rufe Davis (Turnkey)  
    Lionel Pape (Lord Droopy)  
    Dorothy Howe (Joan Fielding)  
    Russell Hicks (Captain Stafford)  
  Specialties: Kirsten Flagstad Metropolitan Opera Co.    
    Wilfred Pelletier Metropolitan Opera Co. (Conductor)  
    Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra    
    Archie Twitchell (Steward)  
    James Craig (Steward)  
    Richard Denning (Officer)  
    Michael Brooke (Officer)  
    Jack Hubbard (Officer)  
    Bill Roberts (Officer)  
    Clive Morgan (Officer)  
    John Huettner (Officer)  
    Bruce Wyndham (Officer)  
    Kenneth Swartz (Officer)  
    Edgar Norton (Secretary to T. F. Bellows)  
    Stanley King (Chauffeur)  
    Rex Moore (Caddy)  
    Bernard Punsley (Caddy)  
    Don Marion (Caddy)  
    Billy Daniels (Page boy)  
    James Conlin (Reporter)  
    Sherry Hall (Second reporter)  
    James Burtis (Third reporter)  
    Jack Dougherty (Guard)  
    Rudolph Amendt (Bartender)  
    Tiny Newland (Member of Black gang)  
    Harry Wilson (Member of Black gang)  
    Irving Bacon (Prisoner, harmonica player)  
    Wally Maher (Court clerk)  
    Muriel Barr (Showgirl)  
    Sheila Darcy (Haughty girl)  
    Ray Hanford (Pilot)  
    Don Brodie (Radio operator)  
    Frank Du Frane (Radio operator)  
    Mae Busch (Chaperone)  
    Jerry Fletcher (First gas station attendant)  
    Robert Allen (Second gas station attendant)  
    Auguste Tollaire (First official)  
    Charles Millsfield Sr. (Second official)  
    Charles Teske (Adagio dancer)  
    Jack Dawson (Adagio dancer)  
    Ted Meredith (Adagio dancer)  
    Pete Theodore Rand (Adagio dancer)  
    Edward Cutler (Adagio dancer)  
    Ted O'Shea (Adagio dancer)  
    John Jennings (Adagio dancer)  
    Harvey Karels (Adagio dancer)  
    Gus Glassmire    
    Lal Chand Mehra    
    Mary MacLaren    
    Florence Wix    
    Carol Holloway    
    Gertrude Astor    
    Nell Craig    
    Ethel Clayton    
    Gloria Williams    
    Marion Weldon    
    Yvonne Duval    
    Dorothy Dayton    
    Gwen Kenyon    
    Norah Gale    
    Harriette Haddon    
    Joyce Mathews    
    Virginia Pound    
    Suzanne Ridgway    
    Dorothy White    
    Helaine Moler    
    Paula De Cardo    

Summary: Radio announcer Buzz Fielding's girl friend, Dorothy Wyndham, bails him out of jail, where he landed after skipping alimony payments to his three ex-wives, in time to board the S. S. Gigantic for the race against the S. S. Colossal , to cross from New York to Cherbourg in two and a half days. T. Frothingill Bellows, president of the line that owns the Gigantic , buys his accident-prone brother S. B. a ticket on the Colossal . S. B. delays boarding with a vigorous round of golf, using a motorized cart that turns into a small plane which he eventually uses to land on the deck of the Gigantic . The ship is equipped with a special turbine engine invented by Bob Hayes, but S. B. breaks it with his umbrella and then refuses to allow its use, causing the ship to fall behind in the race. Dorothy and Bob fall in love while he fixes the engine. Buzz announces the ship's entertainment in radio broadcasts, while he and his three ex-wives, eager for their alimony, anticipate winning the race and $50,000. Grace, one of Buzz's ex-wives, diverts S. B.'s attentions from Bob while he fixes the engine. Cleo, another ex-wife, reminisces with Buzz, and they slowly rekindle their love. S. B.'s daughter Martha, also accident-prone, is rescued at sea and wreaks havoc aboard the ship. Finally, Buzz fixes the engine and the Gigantic speeds ahead, at one point with S. B. at the helm. They win the race by a nose, and Buzz and Cleo happily reunite, leaving Dorothy and Bob free to continue their romance. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Mitchell Leisen (Dir)
  Edgar Anderson (Asst dir)
Producer: Adolph Zukor (Pres)
  Harlan Thompson (Prod)
  William LeBaron (Exec prod)
Writer: Walter DeLeon (Scr)
  Francis Martin (Scr)
  Ken Englund (Scr)
  Frederick Hazlitt Brennan (Story)
  Howard Lindsay (Adpt)
  Russel Crouse (Adpt)
  W. C. Fields (Contr wrt)
Photography: Harry Fischbeck (Photog)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  Ernst Fegté (Art dir)
Film Editor: Eda Warren (Ed)
  Chandler House (Ed)
Set Decoration: A. E. Freudeman (Int dec)
Costumes: Edith Head (Cost)
Music: Boris Morros (Mus dir)
  Arthur Franklin (Music adv)
Sound: Gene Merritt (Sd rec)
  Don Johnson (Sd rec)
  Charles Althouse (Sd rec)
Special Effects: Gordon Jennings (Spec photog eff)
Dance: LeRoy Prinz (Dances staged by)
Animation: Leon Schlesinger (Cartoon seq)
Country: United States

Songs: "Brunnhilde's Battle Cry" from the opera Die Walküre , music and libretto by Richard Wagner; "Zuni-Zuni," music and lyrics by Tito Guizar; "Don't Tell a Secret to a Rose," "You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart," "Mama, That Moon Is Here Again," "Thanks for the Memory," "The Waltz Lives On" and "This Little Ripple Had Rhythm," music and lyrics by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.
Composer: Tito Guizar
  Ralph Rainger
  Leo Robin
  Richard Wagner

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Paramount Pictures, Inc. 18/2/1938 dd/mm/yyyy LP7843 Yes

PCA NO: 3813
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording

Genre: Musical comedy
Subjects (Major): Boatracing
  Musical revues
  Radio announcers
  Radio broadcasting
Subjects (Minor): Alimony
  Billiards and billiard parlors
  Gas stations
  Golf and golfers
  Ship crews

Note: Included in the Paramount story files at the AMPAS library are an early story outline by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan casting Jack Benny in the lead role; a story outline by J. P. McEvoy; and five sequences written by W. C. Fields, titled "Gas station routine," "Golf routine," "Barber shop routine," "Pool room routine" and "Orchestra routine." McEvoy did not receive final writing credit. The film marked the feaure-film debut of Bob Hope (1903--2003) and the last of Paramount's Big Broadcast series. According to an article in NYT , this was Fields's first role following a long illness. The sequence in which Kirsten Flagstad appears was filmed at the Eastern Service Studios at Astoria, Long Island, while the rest of the film continued production in Hollywood. According to a NYT article, the elephant number in this film bent the stage so that it was unusable.
       In his biography, Mitchell Leisen stated that he made a direct recording on the first take of the song "Thanks for the Memory," which was sung by Hope and Shirley Ross, accompanied by a 90-piece orchestra. The tune, which became Hope's theme song, won the 1938 Academy Award for Best Song. Leisen credited Ted Reed with directing Fields's golf and pool routines. Leisen stated that he had his first heart attack on the final night of shooting. For more information on the series, see the entry for The Big Broadcast above. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   8 Feb 38   p. 3.
Film Daily   11 Feb 38   pp. 12-14.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Sep 37   pp. 18-19.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Nov 37   pp. 10-11.
Motion Picture Daily   9 Feb 38   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald   20 Nov 37   pp. 14-15.
New York Times   10 Mar 38   p. 16.
Motion Picture Herald   12 Feb 38   p. 46.
Variety   9 Feb 38   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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