The Big Broadcast by Frank Tuttle (1932, 80 min., 35mm). In the late 1920s, the talkies introduced a wave of all-star revues that were inspired by the boisterous spirit of vaudeville. Paramount used this variety format as a vehicle to showcase a dazzling array of radio personalities—15 total—whose stardom was built on coast-to-coast radio programs, record sales, and nightclub shows. The Big Broadcast stars Bing Crosby in his first major role in a feature; he portrays a radio heartthrob whose perennial tardiness leads a sponsor to pull the plug on their support. When a casual affair ends, the inconsolable Bing enters a suicide pact with newfound friend Leslie (Stuart Erwin), an equally lovelorn Texas oilman. In the sober light of day, Leslie resolves to set things right by buying the radio station and preparing the next big broadcast. The loose narrative interweaves performances by each of the radio talents, among them the Boswell Sisters, Cab Calloway (who steals the show with “Kickin’ the Gong Around”), and the Mills Brothers. Description written by Jennifer Rhee, UCLA Film & Television Archive.


Preservation funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute and Universal Pictures.