7/10
Surprisingly Good
25 January 2011
I found this to be the most entertaining of all the "Big Broadcast" movies. This isn't saying much, since these films were mainly just mash-ups of all the big names in radio that year, doing sketches independently of one another and strung together into a movie.

This one, however, has a very strong and entertaining plot. Jack Benny plays a sardonic radio executive, with Ray Milland as his slightly oilier second-in-command. George Burns and Gracie Allen play radio sponsors, which is just an excuse to trot them out and do their shtick (but what a great shtick it was). Shirley Ross plays the young ingénue who comes to New York to find stardom on the radio.

It was probably Ross who impressed me the most, she seems to have been a very funny actress with a great singing voice. It's a pity she didn't have more of a career in films.

Jack Benny, I think, was better suited to playing the wise-cracking supporting character -- as he did in this film -- as compared to the leading man. He was not a very good actor and had a lifelong difficulty memorizing lines. He was great here, though, playing a sarcastic cynic, a character in direct contrast with the miserly wannabe character he played on the radio.

It is also worth noting that I think this is Benny's only film pairing with his best friend, George Burns. The two don't have much to do together, but it's nice to see, just the same.

A final note: Bob Burns also has a very funny role in this movie as a Hillbilly who keeps interrupting radio shows trying to find Leopold Stokowski. He wants to find the maestro to show him a musical instrument he has invented. It is a long black tube that you blow into. Burns used it on his own radio show. He called it a "bazooka." Turns out, that's where the weapon got it's name. See how much we owe to radio?
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