THE GREAT MAN is a 1956 drama film directed by and starring José
Ferrer . The screenplay was written by Ferrer and
Al Morgan , Morgan's
novel of the same name the source material. It was loosely based on
the controversial career of
* 1 Plot * 2 Background * 3 Cast * 4 See also * 5 External links
Joe Harris (José Ferrer) is a popular, established local radio news reporter covering Broadway entertainment with a wise-guy attitude. Herb Fuller is the network's undisputed star. When Fuller dies in an auto accident, Philip Carleton ( Dean Jagger ), president of the Amalgamated Broadcasting Network, assigns Harris to prepare a memorial extravaganza, including an elaborate public viewing and a special memorial show featuring interviews with Fuller's radio cast, the "Fuller Family," (based on Arthur Godfrey's cast of "Little Godfreys") and others who knew him. Carleton dangles a chance at Harris becoming Fuller's replacement if he succeeds.
Assisted by network PR man Nick Cellentano ( Jim Backus ), Harris is intrigued by odd comments at the public viewing, including some from various individuals who attend strictly out of boredom and are indifferent to Fuller.
Harris meets Sid Moore (
Harris's investigations reveal Fuller's relationship with Carol
Moore signs Harris to a contract, then reveals more of Fuller's escapades. Carleton privately warns Harris of Moore's duplicitous nature, telling the newsman that the network will spin his chances of becoming Fuller's successor negatively so that Moore agrees to release him from the contract, adding if Harris cannot secure a release, the network will turn elsewhere. Amassing the research into a script, Harris has to choose between praising the beloved, amusing and warm-hearted Fuller the public saw or unmasking the phony beneath the image.
Harris makes up his mind as the broadcast starts, throwing away his prepared script to tell the truth about Herb Fuller. As Carleton and Moore listen in, Moore realizes what Harris is about to do. He rips up Harris' contract and demands Carleton stop the broadcast. Seeing that Moore has done precisely what he had hoped for, Carleton refuses to stop the broadcast, explaining that he can market Harris as a man of principle and honesty to the public just as easily as his network marketed Fuller's phony image.
While the movie was based on the controversy surrounding Arthur
Godfrey, whose tabloid real-life persona contrasted with his
warm-hearted public demeanor, the fictional Fuller's failings differed
greatly. Godfrey's controversies were mostly public, not private.
Godfrey's womanizing was long-rumored but never confirmed, and he was
not a heavy drinker like Fuller. Godfrey's reputation for bullying
members of his cast offstage was one exception. That situation,
originally private, only became public with the October 19, 1953 on
air firing of singer, and popular Godfrey show discovery, Julius
LaRosa . LaRosa violated an unwritten rule against Godfrey show
regulars hiring personal management. An overblown scandal at the time,
LaRosa only saw his career flourish as daily negative press against
his former employer grew. Godfrey was also known to relish
Rest of Cast listed Alphabetically:
* Dorothy Abbott as ‘American Airlines’ Stewardess (uncredited) * Herbert Baker as Elevator Operator (uncredited) * Eddie Gomez as Proprietor (uncredited) * Johnny Grant as Disc Jockey (uncredited) * Hallene Hill as Old Woman (uncredited) * Jane Howard as Secretary (uncredited) * Adrienne Marden as Voice of Mrs. Fuller (uncredited) * Coleen McClatchey as Secretary (uncredited) * Albert E. Morgan as Voice of Herb Fuller (uncredited) * Steve Pendelton as Voice of Director (uncredited) * Gail Stone as Mary’s Sister (uncredited)
* List of American films of 1956 * A Face in the Crowd