College Swing / The Big Broadcast of 1938
(2002, Universal Studios)
Another Bob Hope Double Feature DVD Review! I was pretty excited to check this disc out as it features Bob’s first two feature films. He previously appeared on screen in two shorts from 1934: “Going Spanish” and “Paree, Paree”.
(1938, Paramount Pictures)
When I think of “college swing”, I think of something entirely different. Something like Girls Gone Wild: College Swing. As you can see from the billing, Bob Hope was not the star of this film. Top billing went the the husband-wife comedy duo of George Burns & Gracie Allen (who is much cuter than I ever realized). There is a loose story revolving around Gracie trying to pass an exam in order to become owner of the college but it’s all just an excuse for love, screwball comedy, dance and song.
There’s typical college hi-jinks and some fun physical comedy here. The cast is very good. In addition to Burns & Allen and Hope, we also get Martha Raye, Betty Grable (looking as hot as ever), comedian Ben Blue, Jackie Coogan (who would later play Uncle Fester on The Addams Family television show) and future Bob Hope radio program cast members Jerry Colonna & Skinnay Ennis. There’s even a brief cameo by Mary Livingstone (wife/cast member of Jack Benny). It’s so brief I didn’t even notice it! I’ll have to go back and look for it.
Not a great piece of work but it’s very interesting for the cast alone and there are a few legit laugh out loud moments.
The Big Broadcast of 1938
(1938, Paramount Pictures)
Bob’s first picture already has him working with a few gals he would go on to work with a number of times in his career: Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour and Shirley Ross. Bob doesn’t play a major role in this movie. The Big Broadcast of 1938 is another variety picture featuring music, dancing, love and comedy. W.C. Fields is the star and while he was a big name comedian in his day, I’m not really a fan. Maybe it’s just how the print has been preserved but I find it’s hard to understand what he’s saying sometimes. He seems to mumble so much.
Much like College Swing, this is another one of those movies that may not be a true highlight but it’s entertainng given that it features a young talented cast that would go on do to so much more in films. I do believe this movie is historically important for another reason — it debuts “Thanks For the Memory” which is sung by Bob Hope & Shirley Ross. That song would follow Hope throughout his career and would be considered his signature (or even theme) song until his passing.
This DVD is definitely a must-own for fans of classic Hollywood comedies & musicals.