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A radio writer preparing a tribute to a recently passed colleague discovers his idol had feet of clay.
After the star of Amalgamated Broadcasting Studios, radio and television humorist Herb Fuller, dies, Fuller's former manager, Sid Moore, immediately plans a lavish memorial. Moore announces to Amalgamated reporter and radio personality Joe Harris that he wants Joe to research and narrate the memorial, in order to position Joe to take over Fuller's empire. Moore convinces Joe to accompany him to the Connecticut hospital in which Fuller died, but there they learn only that Fuller's last words were unprintable. On the plane home, Moore, who feels that he "created" Fuller only to be cut out of the star's later career, begins his plan to launch Joe into stardom by pretending that Joe was a close friend of Fuller, who in reality was a stranger to him. As Moore has planned, Joe is soon invited to a meeting in Amalgamated president Philip Carleton's office, during which Moore outlines his elaborate plans for the viewing of Fuller's casket, in a chapel with rotating choirs and all-day eulogies. Carleton makes it clear that although he approves of the exploitation, he dislikes Moore and will not yet allow Joe to take over Fuller's shows. Instead, he gives Joe four days in which to "investigate" Fuller's past and, with the resulting information, create the radio homage. After the meeting, Moore coerces Joe into signing a contract guaranteeing their partnership. To begin his investigation, Joe questions Fuller's press agent, Nick Cellantano, who reveals what Joe has already begun to discern: Fuller was a callous, shallow womanizer, loved only by the audience members who considered him a kindly, humorous everyman. Cellantano counsels Joe to use prepared press clips in the memorial, rather than obtaining unusable quotes about the real man. Back at his office, after Joe's beloved secretary Ginny discloses that Fuller once propositioned her, Moore calls and commands Joe to extract glowing quotes from "the great unwashed" who are thronging to see Fuller's casket in the chapel. Some of the people there whom Joe interviews genuinely adored Fuller, while others are merely enjoying the spectacle of his death. Later, Carol Larson, the singer on Fuller's television program, invites Joe to her apartment. There, the lovely young woman drunkenly declares that she "belonged to" Fuller, who seduced her, made her a star and then sadistically kept her at his beck and call. After kissing Carol, Joe leaves, with hours of unusable tape. The next morning, Fuller's band leader, Eddie Brand, storms into Joe's office with a prepared speech about Fuller's magnanimity. In confidence, he advises Joe just to tell the people what they want to hear about Fuller, "the great man." Engineer Mike Jackson then demonstrates the edited and manipulated chapel tapes, which now sound universally positive about Fuller. Joe, who is disturbed by what he has learned about Fuller but is unwilling to ruin the opportunity to advance his career, returns to his office, where he finds the owner of a Christian radio station, Paul Beaseley. Although Joe initially considers the mild-mannered man ridiculous, he gains respect for Paul as the radio owner reveals his past relationship with Fuller: Paul gives the young Fuller his first program after he wins a sermon-writing contest. Fuller moves in with the Beaseleys, who treat him like a son, taking advantage of their kindness by drinking too much and writing increasingly smutty programs. Finally, Moore hires Fuller away, after which Fuller never again spoke to the Beaseleys. In the present, Paul wonders why he and Joe help maintain the image of Fuller as a saint, and when Joe answers that this job is his most important ever, Paul chastises him gently for his shallowness. The next day, Joe listens to Fuller's most famous broadcast, in which he brought donated blood to the German front during World War II, thus inspiring millions of Americans to give blood. Joe is moved by the show, and considers it the first example of authentic integrity he has discovered about Fuller. The night before the show, Joe is invited to Moore's house, where the manager is romancing a beautiful young Amalgamated receptionist. In response to Moore's boasts that he knew the real, vulgar Fuller, Joe threatens to back out of the program, but Moore announces that he and Mike have already created a backup show and can replace Joe instantly. Moore then reveals that he falsified the "blood tapes" after Fuller refused to leave Paris for the front, taping Fuller's voice over phony background noises. Raving that although he kept Fuller's secret, Carleton refused to pay him off, Moore announces that he now plans to control Fuller's empire. Disgusted, Joe returns to his office, where he stays all night. In the morning, Carleton reveals to Joe that he is launching a campaign to discredit him, knowing that when Joe is no longer a viable property, Moore will no longer fight for control over him. He gives Joe $500 to buy out the contract, promising that once Moore is no longer attached, they will back Joe as Fuller's replacement. Although this jeopardizes his career, Joe has no choice but to accept. When the broadcast begins that evening, Carleton and Moore listen from the president's office. Joe begins with his scripted memorial but soon is unable to continue the charade. Placing aside his manuscript, Joe unleashes an honest expose of Fuller, shocking the nationwide audience. When Moore tries to pull the show off the air, however, Carleton stops him, explaining that now Joe's name will stand for integrity and grit. Joe's new commercial appeal, Carleton declares, will not only render Moore powerless, but will be the perfect platform from which to sell more products. Not knowing that the men upstairs are planning his future as the next "great man," Joe continues his program.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 1 Jan 1957|
|Release Date:||1957||Production Date:||
UNIV 16 mm; EBX
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Co., Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (Westrex Recording System)||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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The Not-So-Great Man
el debbo 2016-10-06
Intelligent New York story of a reporter trying to write a one-hour national broadcast, a eulogy of a great radio personality who was nothing but a facade....
The Great Man
Dave Tomchuk 2010-05-02
I think its a great classic talking and good acting movie. Saw it in 1968 on TV BUT DID not see the ending. I have been looking for it for years. How did...