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The Big Broadcasts


sewhite2000
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I watched all of THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1936 and about the first 35 minutes of THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1937 before going to bed. I'm always appreciative of TCM showing Paramount films whenever they're able, although had anyone from TCM asked me, these might not have been the first two Paramount films I would have requested. It was a little odd that the theme of the night was Burns and Allen and not just "The Big Broadcast", because the married comedy duo only played relatively small supporting roles in these films. As Ben M. said, however, it was apparently Burns' decision that the duo not be the stars of the films in which they appeared because he feared this would lead to overexposure. The evening went on to show some more Burns-Allen material that was non-"Broadcast" related that I didn't stay up for.

 

Jack Oakie is an actor with whom I'm completely unfamiliar, other than his Oscar-nominated role as a Mussolini type in THE GREAT DICTATOR. A quick scan of his resume on imdb shows that he worked almost entirely at Paramount early in his career and then almost entirely on television, so I've learned virtually nothing about him from my many years of watching TCM. With his moustache in this film, I thought he resembled a slightly pudgy Don Ameche. 

 

For a film that was supposed to be about a radio station, 1936 spent an odd amount of its running time away from the station, with its crazy storyline about the zillionaire female plantation owner in love with Oakie and her murderously (is that a word?) jealous foreman. I actually enjoyed this wacky plot more than the showcase of radio talent that kept interrupting the main narrative. Was Bing Crosby acting in films yet beyond musical cameos like this? The comedy storyline seemed like it could have belonged in a Bob Hope movie, with the isolated setting, medieval armor, the misunderstanding about the dog and the potentially poisoned breakfast and the appearance of a photo of the two male leads (somehow) already in the book of dead would-be fiancees. 

 

The futuristic TV machine seemed similar to the device Burns would later use on the TV show to observe scenes he wasn't in. I do remember watching some syndicated Burns and Allen as a young child, and it was unusual for me to watch any black-and-white TV shows. I had an odd prejudice against them in my single-digit years (Three Stooges always excepted, of course). I almost never watched I Love Lucy or Andy Griffith, for example, for no other reason than they were in black-and-white and would only watch the color episodes of Bewitched and Gilligan's Island. But I must have been intrigued enough by seeing George in OH, GOD and other films as a kid that I was willing to give the old TV show a chance. Burns (the character) struck me as less patient with Gracie in these early films - at points, it appeared he was ready to tell her to just shut up already. By the time of the TV show, he tolerated her eccentricities with a beatific serenity.

 

I was out of the room preparing dinner during the Amos N' Andy sequence, though I could still hear the TV. I had never really seen anything of them except maybe some history of TV and radio docs. They were already too un-PC to show on television even by the time I was born. I'm not too aware of their history. My understanding is by the time they became a TV show, they were played by African-American actors, but in the '30s, it was still white guys in blackface doing the radio show and making film cameos.

 

BIG BROADCAST OF 1937 appeared to be a stronger film, thanks to the inclusion of the likes of Jack Benny and an early-career Ray Milland. I kind of wish now I had stayed up for the rest of it. This film was staying more squarely within the milieu of the radio station and I think was going to be more interesting.

 

 

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Nice synopsis & observations, sewhite. 

My film group has screened these films and they're always a hit-enough variety and story movement to keep most entertained. I especially like after a "performance", the audience typically erupts with applause....as if it's a "live" performance.

 

I think Oakie was a very beloved comedian in his day. He's pretty much everywhere in smaller supporting roles. He's the definition of a classic "supporting" actor.

 

The comedy storyline seemed like it could have belonged in a Bob Hope movie

 

Well Paramount did the "Road" pictures and other Bob Hope vehicles for the most part. I dearly love Paramount comedies-while not as glitzy as MGM or gritty as Warners, they have a very lighthearted charm to them that seems to reach young & old, sophisticated & low brow, pretty much everyone.

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TCM is actually having to make a deal with Universal to get these Paramounts. Any talking picture made by Paramount 1929-1949 belongs to Universal. What I can't figure out is the time of day they put the old Paramounts/Universals on. For example, "Skippy" is scheduled for early this morning. I believe it was actually a Universal film. There were also a bunch of noir or noir-like Universals TCM played a few months back that were also on early Saturday morning. To me, that stuff should be on primetime because it is so rare.

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I watched all of THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1936 and about the first 35 minutes of THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1937 before going to bed. I'm always appreciative of TCM showing Paramount films whenever they're able, although had anyone from TCM asked me, these might not have been the first two Paramount films I would have requested. It was a little odd that the theme of the night was Burns and Allen and not just "The Big Broadcast", because the married comedy duo only played relatively small supporting roles in these films. As Ben M. said, however, it was apparently Burns' decision that the duo not be the stars of the films in which they appeared because he feared this would lead to overexposure. The evening went on to show some more Burns-Allen material that was non-"Broadcast" related that I didn't stay up for.

 

Jack Oakie is an actor with whom I'm completely unfamiliar, other than his Oscar-nominated role as a Mussolini type in THE GREAT DICTATOR. A quick scan of his resume on imdb shows that he worked almost entirely at Paramount early in his career and then almost entirely on television, so I've learned virtually nothing about him from my many years of watching TCM. With his moustache in this film, I thought he resembled a slightly pudgy Don Ameche. 

 

For a film that was supposed to be about a radio station, 1936 spent an odd amount of its running time away from the station, with its crazy storyline about the zillionaire female plantation owner in love with Oakie and her murderously (is that a word?) jealous foreman. I actually enjoyed this wacky plot more than the showcase of radio talent that kept interrupting the main narrative. Was Bing Crosby acting in films yet beyond musical cameos like this? The comedy storyline seemed like it could have belonged in a Bob Hope movie, with the isolated setting, medieval armor, the misunderstanding about the dog and the potentially poisoned breakfast and the appearance of a photo of the two male leads (somehow) already in the book of dead would-be fiancees. 

 

The futuristic TV machine seemed similar to the device Burns would later use on the TV show to observe scenes he wasn't in. I do remember watching some syndicated Burns and Allen as a young child, and it was unusual for me to watch any black-and-white TV shows. I had an odd prejudice against them in my single-digit years (Three Stooges always excepted, of course). I almost never watched I Love Lucy or Andy Griffith, for example, for no other reason than they were in black-and-white and would only watch the color episodes of Bewitched and Gilligan's Island. But I must have been intrigued enough by seeing George in OH, GOD and other films as a kid that I was willing to give the old TV show a chance. Burns (the character) struck me as less patient with Gracie in these early films - at points, it appeared he was ready to tell her to just shut up already. By the time of the TV show, he tolerated her eccentricities with a beatific serenity.

 

I was out of the room preparing dinner during the Amos N' Andy sequence, though I could still hear the TV. I had never really seen anything of them except maybe some history of TV and radio docs. They were already too un-PC to show on television even by the time I was born. I'm not too aware of their history. My understanding is by the time they became a TV show, they were played by African-American actors, but in the '30s, it was still white guys in blackface doing the radio show and making film cameos.

 

BIG BROADCAST OF 1937 appeared to be a stronger film, thanks to the inclusion of the likes of Jack Benny and an early-career Ray Milland. I kind of wish now I had stayed up for the rest of it. This film was staying more squarely within the milieu of the radio station and I think was going to be more interesting.

Probably the most famous number ever to come out of a "Big Broadcast" film was Bob Hope's rendition of "Thanks for the Memory".

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These movies ARE a good way to see some performers many of us didn't become familiar with until long into or after their careers started, to SEE them at the near start of their games.  And they're pretty entertaining to boot.

 

 

Sepiatone

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It was a little odd that the theme of the night was Burns and Allen and not just "The Big Broadcast", because the married comedy duo only played relatively small supporting roles in these films. As Ben M. said, however, it was apparently Burns' decision that the duo not be the stars of the films in which they appeared because he feared this would lead to overexposure. The evening went on to show some more Burns-Allen material that was non-"Broadcast" related that I didn't stay up for.

 

With all due respect to Ben M., I wonder if that fact is correct.  Burns and Allen had starring roles in "Here Comes Cookie", and "Six of a Kind" with W.C. Fields.  In the second movie they had even more screen time than Fields. (Unless Ben was only talking about the Broadcast films, in which case I just misread this post.)

 

I love "Six of a Kind".  A laugh out loud, wonderful movie.  :)

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With all due respect to Ben M., I wonder if that fact is correct.  Burns and Allen had starring roles in "Here Comes Cookie", and "Six of a Kind" with W.C. Fields.  In the second movie hey had even more screen time than Fields. (Unless Ben was only talking about the Broadcast films, in which case I just misread this post.)

 

I love "Six of a Kind".  A laugh out loud, wonderful movie.  :)

 

Ben said something about Burns being concerned early on that too much over exposure of them and their style would bore the audience. They were used to doing short skecthes during Vaudeville shows. But as it turned out, over the years, their sketches lengthened and the audiences weren't bored with them. I was bored with them, but apparently a lot of people could watch their silly stuff for hours.

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Those two "Big Broadcast" films were surely the most boring ever made. But a great one is the early INTERNATIONAL HOUSE, which was about early TV shows with a lot of big-name acts and stars, such as Cab Calloway singing "Reefer Man", and also WC Fields. However, I haven't seen it shown on TV in about 25 years.

 

INTERNATIONAL+HOUSE(1933)W.C.+FIELDS+ORI

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I've always been interested In Mary Kelley. She was roommates with Gracie and instrumental in getting Gracie to break off with her fiancé and get with George. George and Jack Benny were roommates also, and Mary Kelley almost married Jack Benny. Mary apparently lived with the Burns' for awhile during the 1930's, yet NOBODY seems to have a picture of this woman. Some more on the issue.

 

http://jackbenny.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=398

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It would be nice if TCM were to acquire the rights to the other two "Big Broadcast" films, the one simply called The Big Broadcast (from 1932), with Burns and Allen again, plus the likes of Bing Crosby and Kate Smith, and, my favourite of the series, the final one, Big Broadcast of 1938. While it's Bob Hope and Shirley Ross's rendition of "Thanks for the Memory" that is the most famous moment of the entire series here, I get a particular kick out of watching W., C. Fields in his final Paramount film. That film also has sexy Dorothy Lamour, loud Martha Raye and laid back Lynne Overman.

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THE BIG BROADCAST is a terrific film, with enough surrealism to make it memorable.  It's definitely a companion piece to INTERNATIONAL HOUSE with Stu Erwin co-starring in both pictures.  I don't even know if Showtime ran BIG BROADCAST when they were doing MCA titles back in the 80's.  The last time I remember it being broadcast was when WNET showed a 16mm print.  The big song to come out of TBB was "Please".  Crosby played himself and the film was made soon after he debuted his CBS radio series.  I have a nice 16 but I would love to see a 35mm transfer of THE BIG BROADCAST.

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Nice synopsis & observations, sewhite. 

My film group has screened these films and they're always a hit-enough variety and story movement to keep most entertained. I especially like after a "performance", the audience typically erupts with applause....as if it's a "live" performance.

 

I think Oakie was a very beloved comedian in his day. He's pretty much everywhere in smaller supporting roles. He's the definition of a classic "supporting" actor.

 

The comedy storyline seemed like it could have belonged in a Bob Hope movie

 

Well Paramount did the "Road" pictures and other Bob Hope vehicles for the most part. I dearly love Paramount comedies-while not as glitzy as MGM or gritty as Warners, they have a very lighthearted charm to them that seems to reach young & old, sophisticated & low brow, pretty much everyone.

From imdb  Jack Oakie  "Worked at Paramount, 1928-36; RKO 1936-38; 20th Century Fox, 1940-43; and Universal 1944-45. At the peak of his popularity, in the 1940's, he earned up to $7,500 a week." So we don't know much about him because not much of his work is in the TCM library. He had leading man or close to leading man roles at Universal and Paramount and we definitely do not see much from those studios on TCM.

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