The Big Broadcast of 1938 is a Paramount feature film, notable for several things, including the introduction of Bob Hope’s signature song, “Thanks for the Memory.”
The movie’s plot, such as it is, revolves around “The Race of the Ages,” a competition between the new $40-million “radio powered” ocean liner Gigantic (which kind of resembles a 1990s-era Royal Caribbean cruise ship with sideboard propellers) and the slightly smaller Colossal, a Normandie (1935) look-alike. As the movie opens, the vessels are set to sail from New York’s Pier 97 to Cherbourg in two-and-a-half days.
Gigantic owner T. Frothingill “T.F.” Bellows (played W. C. Fields) intends to send his nearly identical younger brother S.B. (also Fields) to sail aboard the Colossal, hoping he will cause trouble and sabotage the rival ship, enabling Gigantic and his own Bellows Line to claim victory.
It goes on from there, with plenty of songs and dances, but let’s not get too caught up in the movie’s razor-thin plot. It’s the mythical ocean liners, and the hold that fast, sophisticated ocean travel had on the public in the 1930s, that really make this film worth a look.
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