For Reel

The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935)
July 29, 2015, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Norman Taurog
3 Stars
The Big Broadcast of 1936The Big Broadcast of 1936 includes a plot device that is indispensable for a variety picture: the so-called Radio Eye. As described, the portable contraption allows one to see and hear anything that is broadcast on the airwaves. The appearance of such a device shows that television was already on the public’s conscious in 1935, and the film lampoons the premise that one could have such a wide variety of entertainment at their fingertips. In a baffling sequence that first demonstrates the Radio Eye, a sketch involving a slapstick comedy team building a house transitions into a weeper about a dying child in a hospital and finally bookends that with a blackface routine from Amos ’n’ Andy. As with the medium the picture is modeled after, the lesser moments of The Big Broadcast of 1936 don’t last long before they make way for more enjoyable acts. And, if each vignette leaves something to be desired on its own (save for a beautiful tap dancing number involving Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers), the film is a surreal potpourri of entertainment, bolstered by a remarkable imagination and the boldness of its juxtapositions.

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