Bad Boys for Life
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It's a mildly entertaining, but forgettable musical film. Most notably, the titular show tune is not remarkable enough to justify the story woven around it.
It's hard to believe it actually won "best picture" in 1930 - since by today's standards, and even film standards 15-20 years later, it is clumsy, chunky, and beyond corny. Nevertheless, I do think that fans of film history, especially musicals, will be interested in its presentation and integration of song & dance. And on an even more positive note, some of the sets and costumes were excellent.
Having recently seen and reviewed An American in Paris (1951) I am beginning to realize that I have been far too harsh on more modern musicals but the early attempts at melding music and a minor plot are rough. Exhibit A is The Broadway Melody which somehow managed to win Best Picture in 1929 and although it's nice to have sound after Wings (1927) I would have to say that would be a more enjoyable spectacle. The many issues that the film has are compounded by the fact that it's leads are unable to sing and dance and the music is at best forgettable. This deserves to be considered one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time and the fact that it won is probably the only reason people have to go back and look at it.
Two sisters, Queenie, Anita Page, and Harriet, Bessie Love, with dreams of superstardom as part of a vaudeville act. Zanfield, Eddie Kane, definitely a play on Ziegfeld, is setting up a large Broadway Revue and the sisters think they have a shot at making it. Eddie, Charles King, is engaged to the talented and hardworking Harriet but is in love with Queenie almost purely based on her looks. The two sisters get cut from the show, then Queenie is brought back because she's "hot" and Harriet is rightly miffed. The wrong guy, Jock, Kenneth Thomson, pursues the shallow Queenie and she stays with him even though she doesn't really like him. We get pretty bad song and dance numbers throughout although they are refreshingly diegetic and it's strange to see a genre this early in it's development.
The redeemable feature of this film were the costumes, that's all I could think of. The girls wore cute little sparkly rompers that get a chance to shine when they kick their legs up, which they do repeatedly, or large groups of girls swarm together to create what I suppose would have been an impressive visual at the time. Queenie slips into a beautiful white dress at one point that shows off the impressive figure of Page and would still be elegant and fashionable by today's standards. Much like The Great Ziegfeld (1936) the best parts of the film are those at which you sit back and admire the visual beauty of the women's outfits but if that's the best part of your film you have a long way to go.
The love triangle trope even when involving siblings can be employed effectively as seen in While You Were Sleeping (1995) and Brothers (2004) but here it all felt a bit too melodramatic. I wanted to empathize with Harriet or Hank as she is called in her struggle but none of the characters were grounded enough to feel human and they weren't dramatic or over the top enough to be campily enjoyable. Queenie didn't have any dimension added to her other than just being too ï¿ 1/2 1/2~beautiful' and I never felt any urgency to the love between her and Eddie as I was clearly meant to. Because none of these dramatic plotlines are interesting it makes it even more exasperating that the main plot about the two girls chasing their dreams is hard to root for because they aren't even good at their job. There is nobody to really root for in this film and that means it's hard to stay engaged between shots of their flashy costumes.
It's again hard to evaluate whether this was a deserving Best Picture winner because I am not particularly familiar with the films of 1929. Despite this The Broadway Melody might be the best of the lot because it has sound and a clear plot. No, it doesn't stack up to more modern films and it's still a bit of a slog but it's certainly better than this poor attempt at a musical. If you are going to watch this be aware that it's hard to track down, I found a copy through the public library system but even then I had to go on a waiting list and as this review proved I don't think it was worth it.
Many movies from the early years of Hollywood have aged surprisingly well. The Broadway Melody is not among them. The first 'talkie' to take home the Academy Award for Best Picture ends after 100 minutes, and when the credits started to roll I had a hard time trying to work out what it was even about. The conflict between the lead sisters is rushed and unnatural, the musical numbers are forgettable, and the primitiveness of the production is blatantly obvious. Some scenes end with several seconds of actors staring blankly towards the camera with no sound at all. You can't be too harsh on it, since you have to start from somewhere, but from the dialogue, the acting, the choreography and the general feel, it's a 20s movie through and through. Musicals have come a very long way since The Broadway Melody, but it's nice to seeing one of the early templates, and examine how oft it was imitated in the years to come.
It won best picture, but Flixster seems to have some confusion.
The songs weren't, as stated by at least one review I saw, memorable in any way, and there was a lot of overacting/bad acting that made the film less interesting. However, Bessie Love does a fantastic job in playing her role, and I think she probably deserves an award for her acting here. The actual story is about two sisters trying to sacrifice each other's love lives for each other while one goes down an especially dark path to do so. King is one of the worst actors in the film, and it's impossible to take him seriously. Most of the dancing was also fairly bland, with only a few decently choreographed numbers, but the ballet tap dance that was showcased was pretty amazing in contrast. As a technical achievement this was amazing, and exactly why it got the Best Picture award, and though I wish we still could watch the lost Technicolor sequence, I don't think it would make up for the other flaws of the film.
The best musical movie ever made!
it is as titled, "melodious"..
The Broadway Melody
The Broadway Melody is a character driven musical drama about two sisters who aspires to achieve fame and success and ends up being challenged morally and emotionally.
All the musical sequences are shot beautifully, with stunning choreography (despite of being black and white, it still somehow manages to use the best of it all in its act) that is performed too with accuracy and addition to that the songs too are uplifting and catchy that leaves a long lasting impression especially its title song. The chemistry between the trio is pure magical, the stakes communicate easily that helps create the anticipated impact.
The major strength of the tale is its structure that is weaved with such excellence that its each calculative and carefully crafted step might give you the clear idea about the trajectory that it leading to, but when it finally hits on screen, it is as titled, "melodious" to experience it on screen. It taps to its own beat, it rhymes and within its confined bubble and the fixated characters that revolves around it, the flamboyant nature of the perspective pays off well. Among three lead cast, Love stands out alone with a strong riveting performance and is supported decently by Page, although King sometimes felt off beat.
Beaumont's execution fairly puts storytelling above characters and cast, and his world is competent of its content. It is surprisingly funny without any whatsoever effort and when it grows intense it can make you writhe on your seat; its wide range is inspirational. The plot is set in such a way that one cannot not feel empathy for lead characters, they are justified with an apt ideology that would fit in and suit their persona; a masterstroke by the writers.
The Broadway Melody is that rare cinematic art that captures the chosen world without any partial upfront decisions, it digs deep and paints it with details and notions that makes it bright and dark equally.
A landmark when it was made. It progressed the advancement of musicals in film form. Bessie Love shines as Hank, one of two sisters who move to New York to make it on Broadway. The plot is corny and melodramatic. Today, this Best Picture winner is mostly a curiosity piece.
Although it may have been one of the first “all talking all singing” musicals of it’s time, that doesn’t excuse the poor acting, script, and worn out plot line. The dialogue seems unnecessary at times. The sets and costumes seem to be the only thing that they spent their time and money on.