4 September 2001 | stevie-1
The Great Man is a thinly disguised Arthur Godfrey
Just as Charlie Kane was based on William Randolph Hearst, great man Herb Fuller was based on TV and radio icon Arthur Godfrey. I believe several of the story lines in Great Man paralleled events in Godfrey's life. The one that stands out involved a `boy singer' that was fired by Herb Fuller. In real life Arthur Godfrey fired `boy singer' Julius LaRosa. I have heard that Godfrey the `old redhead' was none too pleased with Jose Ferrer's film.
There is a brilliant scene in the film where the hard-boiled, cynical reporter Joe Harris (Jose Ferrer) meets a former employer of great man Herb Fuller, the guy who gave Fuller his start in broadcasting. Harris and his secretary make fun of Paul Beaseley (veteran actor Ed Wynn, who only has this one scene), a doddering old bumpkin who owns a small radio station in New England. Beaseley tells a story that reveals the two sides of Herb Fuller a folksy, down-to- earth radio personality that people love on the one hand and a mean-spirited, drunken rat bastard on the other. At the end of the scene Beaseley says something like, `I know that some people find me ridiculous' and Harris, no longer mocking Beaseley, replies, `Mr. Beaseley, I don't find you ridiculous at all'. This is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.