Pre Code Hollywood Season: FD Cinematheque
Phantom Broadcast, The (1933)
Director: Phil Rosen
Cast: Ralph Forbes, Vivienne Osborne, Arnold Gray, Gail Patrick, Paul Page, Pauline Garon, Guinn Big Boy Williams, Rockliffe Fellowes
As a delivery boy bestows flowers to girls about town, singer Grant Murdock states on his radio show that “Tonight I’m singing to you!” Joe Masetro, a gangster type, has set his sights on signing Grant to a big contract at the end of the week. Grant signs a new contract, however, with his old manager and conductor, Norman Wilder, a hunchback. Joe is upset with siren Elsa Evans, who was supposed to seduce Grant into signing with him. When Joe threatens to cut her out of the action, Elsa tells him she plans to marry Grant.
After the broadcast, Grant makes dates with a number of the girls and heads for Elsa, telling Wilder’s driver, Sandy Higgins, that he will not be rehearsing tonight. Lefty, Joe’s chief henchman and Elsa’s ex-lover, arrives with his gang to kill Norman. Norman meets Laura Hamilton, a young singer, and offers to test her the next day. Getting into his car, Sandy warns Norman about Lefty’s presence and the danger from Joe. Norman laughs off Sandy’s concern, but agrees to take a taxi, after which his car is shot up by Lefty and company. Joe calls Elsa at Grant’s apartment and tells her that Norman was “killed in a gang fight.” Norman, using his key, enters Grant’s apartment, frightening Elsa.
Told of the attack, Grant assumes the murderers were after him, and after refusing to rehearse, he and Elsa leave. While Laura washes dishes with her fiancée, Dr. Robert Brooks, Norman calls and offers to test her in his studio that night. After the tryout, Norman tells Laura that she has real talent, but insists that a singing career and marriage do not mix. After she leaves, Norman looks in the mirror and imagines what he might have been like if he had not been born a hunchback. The next day, Grant and Norman rehearse. It turns out that Norman is the real singer and that Grant is no more than a ventriloquist’s dummy, mouthing the words and accepting the praise and glory.
When Grant leaves, he bumps into Laura and breaks her compact. Impressed by her looks, he promises to sing “My Good Bye to You” just for her, but Norman warns Laura about Grant, then refuses to sing the song on the broadcast. After the radio show, Norman tells Grant to stay away from Laura, but Grant calls her and makes a date for five o’clock to “hear him sing.” Grant strikes Norman and leaves. Norman tries to call Laura but she has already left. Back at his apartment, Elsa finds Laura’s compact and confronts Grant.
She talks about marriage, but Grant strikes her and throws her out. While Elsa takes out her gun, Norman buys one of his own. Arriving at Grant’s, Norman finds the performer dead, with Laura’s compact next to him. Thinking Laura killed Grant, Norman switches guns, calls the police and confesses to the murder. Laura arrives, and realizing his mistake, Norman orders her to leave. When the police arrive, Norman escapes through the roof, but is mortally wounded.
Elsa calls Joe seeking help, but it is Lefty, who is still in love with her, who agrees to give her money. At the radio station, word of Grant’s murder arrives. At seven o’clock, right on schedule, the “voice” of Grant Murdock is heard on the air. The studio curtain is pulled back to show Norman singing “My Good Bye to You.” As he dies in her arms, Norman tells Laura that “love and music do mix.” On a ship, Laura honeymoons with Robert, as nearby Elsa wonders aloud to Lefty why Norman took the “rap” for her.
Dr. Robert Brooks
|Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams||…||
Sandy Higgins (as Big Boy Williams)
Program Manager (as Harlan Tucker)
|George ‘Gabby’ Hayes||…||
Police Lieutenant (as George Hayes)
|Rest of cast listed alphabetically:|
Thornton–Radio Station Manager (uncredited)
Film Collectors Corner
Watch The Phantom Broadcast Now – Instant Video on You Tube
Not released on Blu Ray