The Broadway Melody Reviews
Really, it's a shame that The Love Parade (directed by Ernst Lubitsch) didn't get nominated for the award until 1930,when it was released in 1929, the same year as this crappy film, because it is a MUCH superior film in every possible way.
Note: I have no idea what planet Rotten Tomatoes is on but (1) this film is from 1929; and (2) the cast does not consist of Elenor Powell or any other ones listed on the page. Bad website to complement a bad film!
Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, a vaudeville act, come to Broadway, where their friend Eddie Kerns needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield's shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet, but when he meets Queenie, he falls in love to her, but she is courted by Jock Warriner, a member of the New Yorker high society. It takes a while till Queenie recognizes, that she is for Jock nothing more than a toy, and it also takes a while till Harriet recognizes, that Eddie is in love with Queenie.
Plot: Hank and Queenie are two sisters who do a sister act that they intend to use to end up on Broadway through Hank's love interest, Eddie who is a song-and-dance man for a Broadway theater. They manage to get in, but then Queenie who is the younger sister starts dating a wealthy man that Hank and Eddie don't want her to have anything to do with because he's a playboy. So while they are all working on the show, Hank and Eddie try their best to convince Queenie that she shouldn't date him for her own good.
Yeah I'm sure this was a big deal back in its day, but it's not that grand to me. Sure you get some nice songs about Broadway that you might enjoy if your a Broadway or musical in general geek, but when it comes to the story, it's just about a couple of people trying to become stars and then the rest of it is about one of them doing something she shouldn't and the rest of the main cast telling her not to time and time again throughout the film. So you may have some music to enjoy, but at the end of the day, it still gives us a story that you're probably not going to enjoy today.
Music: Now the actual song "Broadway Melody" was okay, but this movie did introduce the song "You Were Meant For Me" which is a nice song and I can understand why it has gotten many versions of it many times from artist and movies like Singin' In The Rain.
And that's my review for The Broadway Melody. If you like any movie that's about Broadway that then moves to a story that's not all that grand, then here's your movie, otherwise it's roughly just good for some of the music and maybe the story if you're into that simple kind of story.
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.