Rotten Tomatoes has an error in its database. They have two films confused. "The Broadway Melody" was released in 1929 and won Best Picture at the 2nd Academy Awards ceremony. Director Harry Beaumont and Lead Actress Bessie Love also were nominated for Oscars but lost.
The film was so successful that something of a franchise developed, with three films in the next decade borrowing the title.
For example, in 1935, "The Broadway Melody of 1936" was released, directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring Jack Benny and Eleanor Powell. It was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar but lost to "Mutiny on the Bounty."
Somehow the folks overseeing the RT database have gotten these two films confused. The entry for the 1929 film says that it was released in 1935 and contains a blurb about the 1935 film.
Below is a review of the 1929 film called "The Broadway Melody" directed by Harry Beaumont.
"The Broadway Melody" is a joy to rediscover. It is amazing (and depressing) that it has failed to maintain a reputation. But then again, how many films from the 1920s have been remembered? Americans born after World War II seem to have no interest in films made before their time. The land of the eternal present.
But some films have maintained a reputation: "The Wizard of Oz" and "Gone With the Wind," for example. Some old Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart films would be recognizable to present-day audiences also. The vast majority of worthy films, however, have been forgotten. "The Broadway Melody" is a perfect example. I think almost anyone would enjoy this film, if they got over their prejudice against old movies and just watched what was on the screen.
Bessie Love's performance is so good that it still jumps off the screen. Her Oscar nomination was well deserved. (She lost to Mary Pickford). But just like the film itself, Ms. Love has been completely forgotten, despite the fact that she continued to work in film into her 80s.
Love plays a woman who moves to New York with her sister in hopes of making it on Broadway. Initially you think it's going to be schmaltzy, like movie musicals tended to be in the 1930s. But this film has a heavy side, and it wrestles with class issues in quite a blunt way. Love's sister, for example, gets seduced by a wealthy predator in a way that is truly frightening.
There are also bold insinuations of infidelity on the part of Love's fiancé. After all this sadness, Love has a breakdown on screen that goes on for several heart-breaking minutes.
The songs may be all sunny and light. But "The Broadway Melody" demonstrates in an admirably frank way, in a genuinely artistic way, that Broadway's sunniness often stems from a desperate attempt to PRETEND that life is grand.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't go quite to the depth that it could have, thus it doesn't deserve much more than a 7 rating. But this is still one of the better films of the early sound era and should be seen by more cinephiles today.
Thank you to Warner Brothers for keeping this film alive by pressing it on DVD (a beautifully clear copy, incidentally), and thank you to Netflix for buying the DVD and making it available for rent. On behalf of the dozen or so Americans who appreciate cinema history, I thank you.