8 August 2005 | bkoganbing
A Machine George Orwell would have predicted
George Burns and Gracie Allen have invented something called the Radio Eye. Tune it in and it will receive a broadcast from anywhere, even if you're not broadcasting. Problem is that it seems to just pick stuff out of the air randomly. If you could have developed the focus a little more they would have been selling the item to the government and not to Jack Oakie, owner of a second hand radio station. What a Big Brother apparatus this thing could have been.
That's the beginning of the "plot" of the Big Broadcast of 1936. The radio eye was an excuse to introduce all kinds of acts all over the world including the Vienna Boys Choir. Not that the Radio Eye was even original from this film, it was borrowed from Paramount's own International House.
There are nice individual numbers, but on the whole the film ain't half as good as International House. For starters part of the plot also has ditzy countess Lyda Roberti doing some detective work and finding the great Lochinvar who broadcasts love sonnets from that radio station is really two men, Jack Oakie who recites and Henry Wadsworth who sings.
Henry Wadsworth doesn't even sing though, he borrows Kenny Baker's voice. And he comes over like Jack Haley without Haley's charm. Maybe they should have used Haley. Or even Bing Crosby, or maybe Bing knew better and only was on hand to get tuned into by the Radio Eye for one song.
The song Crosby sang was I Wished On the Moon which sold a few 78 platters in its day for him. Lyrics to Ralph Rainger's music were by Algonquin Round Table regular Dorothy Parker. See she didn't just sit at the table and make pithy comments.
Ethel Merman appears via a number that was cut from We're Not Dressing called The Animal in Me. I'm not sure why it was cut from the first film, but thankfully it was preserved by Paramount to splice into this one. You can hear it in the background of We're Not Dressing.
One of the nice acts from the film was Ina Ray Hutton and her all girl orchestra. That was the gimmick, women invading a male preserve. But I assure you that these gals showed off their femininity while performing. Ina Ray is something to see leading that band in a painted on dress.
There's also a bit from a hospital that involved Sir Guy Standing, Gail Patrick, and kid actors Virginia Weidler and David Holt. For the life of me I can't understand why it was included in this lighthearted film. It looks like something lifted from a medical drama and dropped in this film for no rhyme or reason.
Anyway this ain't as good as International House which already had used the Orwellian futuristic gimmick.