For Reel

The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936)
July 29, 2015, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Mitchell Leisen
2 Stars
The Big Broadcast of 1937Jack Benny fills the roll of the manager of a troubled radio station in The Big Broadcast of 1937, the third in a series of Big Broadcast films. To appease his advertisers (played by George Burns and Gracie Allen), Benny hires an egomaniac singer (Frank Forest), who demands that Benny employ a small-town radio ingenue (Shirley Ross) in order to keep her from speaking ill of his talents on air. Ross, who ascends from local personality to mainstream celebrity, is the focus of much of the film, with her will-they-won’t-they relationship with Ray Milland creating the bulk of the conflict. For a revue, The Big Broadcast of 1937 often gets bogged down in the half-baked romantic subplot–neither Ross nor Milland are given convincing characters, and as such their love affair is dead in the water. The musical performances aren’t enough to redeem the blandness, lacking the variety of the previous installment in the series. Benny Goodman has an enjoyable number, but Leopold Stokowski conducts Bach’s “Fugue in G minor” with Leisen’s unusual directorial choice of focusing primarily on the composer and treating the musicians like afterthoughts. Benny, Burns, and Allen are all capable of much more then they’re given.

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