For Reel

The Big Broadcast (1932)
October 21, 2015, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Tuttle
3.5 Stars
The Big BroadcastThe opening sequence of The Big Broadcast makes it immediately clear that it will transcend the ordinary satisfactions of a musical revue. A swinging pendulum sets the soundscape as a radio broadcast readies. Even a cat, bobbing to the rhythm, freezes in place so as not to disrupt the crucial silence. As the performance starts, the film indulges in an orgy of canted angles, expressionistic lighting set-ups, and slapstick gags that play as the live action equivalent of a Max Fleischer cartoon. Director Frank Tuttle regularly indulges in using animation to complete the aesthetic–a clock face spawns a literal face; a radio speaker mutates into a skull that taunts would-be suicide victims. Whereas the transitional material in many musical revues plays as an indifferent necessity, here the real spectacle occurs independent of the performances. Bing Crosby is solid in his first major starring role as a depressive crooner (in one scene he laments, “You sing into a little hole year after year and then you die”), and the picture reliably delivers the goods with its line-up of radio stars including Burns & Allen, Cab Calloway, Kate Smith, and the Boswell Sisters.

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