on July 23, 2002
Claimed by some as "The worst film to ever win best picture" I couldn't disagree more. "The Broadway Melody" carried a lot of importance with it in the world of cinema. It was the first complete "talkie". Flooded with music and dance.
"The Broadway Melody" tells the story of the Mahoney sisters, Queenis (Anita Page) and Hank (Bessie Love) who go to New York with the idea in their head they'll make it on Broadway with the help of Hank's boyfriend, Eddie Kearns (Charles King). But, as the film goes on we find outt hat both sisters are in love in Eddie, and Eddie feels the same way towards them, and everybody better get their feelings straight before and after the curtain closes on broadway!
I have to admit, even though slammed by many people as dull, too old-fashion, too cliche, and just plain boring, I enjoyed the film and for more reasons then it's techinical achievements. The film has a charm to it that has been forever lost in today's Hollywood. I would only recommend that serious movie lovers watch this film, other people will have no appreciation for it. This not the worst film to ever win the best picture award. And even if it didn't win the award I would still enjoy this film.
The only reason I'm giving this film 4 stars instead of 5 is that the dance numbers seem flat. There is no pizazz to it. Watch other musicals of the 30's like "Whoopee" made in 1930. Watch "42nd Street" or the Fred Astaire Ginger Rogers musicals. They all seem to have more "glitz and glamour" to them. "The Braodway Melody" number is awfully flat. But, they make up for it with "The Wedding of the Painted Doll" number. But even in this piece, the dancing is not amazing. The songs in the film however are, which happened to be written by the team of Freed & Brown, if you're having trouble placing them, they wrote "Temptation" along with, "The Broadway Melody" & "You Were Meant For Me" are enjoyable to listen to.
The story to the film is by Edmund Goulding, who directed "Grand Hotel" with Greta Garbo, which won best picture in 1932.
Bottom-line:Although it was the first musical to ever win the best picture award and was the first complete "talkie", the film has more to enjoy then this. It is a charming film that works more as a drama than a musical.
on March 30, 2007
CONSIDERING WHEN THIS MUSICAL WAS MADE, IT IS A GREAT FORERUNNER TO THE LATER BROADWAY MELODY FILMS. IT IS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE REMAKE WITH LANA TURNER AND JOAN BLONDELL. IN MY OPINION BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 WAS THE BEST BROADWAY MELODY MADE. YOU CAN'T REALLY TAKE ANYTHING AWAY FROM BROADWAY MELODY OF 1929, IN AS MUCH AS IT PRESENTED ITSELF WITH A LOT OF VIGOR, GOOD CAST AND MUSIC WHICH FOR ITS DAY SURELY HAD MOVIE GOERS WONDERING WHEN OTHER MUSICALS WERE COMING. IF YOU ARE A MOVIE MUSICAL BUFF BE SURE TO INCLUDE BROADWAY MELODY OF 1929 IN YOUR COLLECTION.
on August 8, 2007
I give this DVD edition 5 stars, not for the extras, but because any surviving 1929-30 musical film to make it to DVD deserves 5 stars--and any company responsible should be encouraged. I found the Metro Movietones selected for inclusion to be extremely odd and below average compared to others that exist. This includes "Dogway Melody." If Warner Home Video had only chosen SONGWRITERS' REVUE (1929) to the exclusion of all else, viewers would be treated to a 35-year old Jack Benny introducing songwriting teams of the day playing and singing their own material--this includes Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed themselves, with Freed singing "Wedding of the Painted Doll." This would have been the perfect extra for this DVD edition. Warner also might have considered lifting song numbers from HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929 for inclusion, particularly the first film production number of "Singin' in the Rain." However, I personally will never settle for anything less than a complete edition of the latter on DVD. HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929 remains the only one of the star-studded studio revues in which all reels survive. It is also the only one in which all reels survive in beautiful condition--in this case 13 reels. Other studio revues boasted color sequences. MGM's HOLLYWOOD REVUE is the only one in which all it's color sequences survive with their color intact---not black and white copies. Anyone wishing details on these all-star revues may contact me. I have gathered quite a lot of information.
Back to BROADWAY MELODY. I wonder how many have noticed that the print used for the DVD is different from the one used for the VHS edition, and possibly edited. This is really quite clear. I had noted another Amazon.com reviewer's comment on the graininess of the DVD release before I purchased and viewed mine only two days ago. This is true. The only other major difference that I noticed was in the very beginning, during the opening credits. In the VHS edition, the strains of "The Broadway Melody" are heard over the entire opening credits. The credits dissolve as George M. Cohan's "Give My Regards to Broadway" begins, and that accompanies the shots of the city. In the DVD edition, only the latter part of the "The Broadway Melody" music is used, and is replaced by the Cohan song before the credits are half over. During the overhead shots of the city the sound of an automobile horn has been dubbed in. This is nowhere to be heard in the VHS version. Between the DVD and VHS editions, I suppose the jury is still out on which is the better print.
on November 18, 2013
I gave this film four stars because I thought it was just enchanting. It's the great, great grandmother story of two little girls from the Mid-West trying to hit the big time on Broadway. They are green and big-eyed, but they have a lot of heart. The one sister is the brains and the other is the pretty one. It's fun to watch each of them trying to help one another and yet torn apart by the jealousy of them both falling for the same guy in the show. Sometimes the sound quality falls a little short but remember, this was made in 1929.
Funny how stars have changed over the years. The guy that plays the Stage Door Johnny after "Queenie" (the pretty sister) looks like he's about 50 years old and way too old for her....his expressions trying to lure her are hysterical, and yet back then it was pretty hot. The slang used in the film is interesting too... if you are a collector of films and haven't explored some of the early sound films
this is a must-have! "Don't "high hat me, Baby"
Even though it was advertised as "All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!", this movie, named the Best Picture of 1929, contains certain elements that point out that sound was still unfamiliar territory to most filmmakers. For example, this movie is still using title cards to announce the chapters. Also, the actors are still using silent film acting techniques as though nobody can hear them. For example, in one scene, characters indicate their drunkenness by hiccuping and wildly staggering about. This unpolished musical was undoubtedly recognized more for combining drama with the musical revue than for its overall production value. The inclusion of a major production number, "The Wedding of the Painted Doll," originally a Technicolor number that is now lost, may also have impressed the Academy.
The story is basically just a backdrop for the real attraction - the singing and dancing. The vaudeville sister act of Hank (Harriet) and Queenie Mahoney come to Broadway where their friend, Eddie Kerns, needs them for his number in a show. Eddie has had a long distance romance with Hank for some time, but when he meets the now grown-up Queenie, he falls in love with her. However, she is also being courted by Jock Warriner, a wealthy playboy. Queenie uses her relationship with Jock as a shield against getting involved with Eddie so as not to hurt her sister. When Hank sees what Eddie and Queenie mean to each other, she steps out of the way so the pair can be together. Unremarkable end to unremarkable story, although Bessie Love's acting as Hank is quite good for an early talkie. Unlike later movie musicals where it is expected that the players will burst into song at any time, this movie seems self-conscious about it all. The very few songs and dances that are performed are - with only one exception - performed within the context of the Broadway show that is being performed. Also note the brief appearance of two character actors early in their careers - William Demarest and James Gleason.
In spite of its obvious shortcomings, this film is one of my favorite early talkies. I love it not because of how it plays in the 21st century. Instead, I love it knowing that it really is the first true movie musical and knowing how it was made in the fall of 1928 when sound technology was so primitive. The cameras were rolled around on wheels - rolling coffins they called them - to give the film some of the fluid visual motion that was lost when sound came in because the noise of the camera had to be insulated. Also, since there was no such thing as a mobile microphone at that point, the microphone was manually hauled just off camera by someone in their stocking feet. These are only a few of the anecdotes dealing with how this film was made and the on-the-spot innovations that had to be made.
The extras are Warner Brothers shorts that pertain to the talkies and musicals of the late 20s and early 30s. "The Dogway Melody" is a 16 minute-long spoof of the original The Broadway Melody with a cast entirely of dogs. You have to see this to believe it. It is funny in an "Our Gang" kind of way. There are also Metro Movietone Reviews consisting of five shorts less than 20 minutes each of some singing and dancing and comedy bits taken directly from the stage. "Van & Schenk" is a 5 minute short with Gus Van and Joe Schenk singing "Chinese Firecracker" and "Way Down South" with piano accompaniment sounding like they are singing through a megaphone. "Broadway Trailer Gallery" contains trailers for the four sequels to Broadway Melody. These films were Broadway Melody of 1936, 1938, 1940, and 1944.
on October 23, 2014
Must admit I am a movie fan. The movie is dated but that is what I find charming about it. It was nice to see the musical numbers in crisp definition. An Oscar winner for Best Picture, it is a marvelous trip back to a more innocent era in film history.
on May 9, 2008
Sure, it's dated and schlocky and a real relic... but it's also the prototype for the MGM musical, in that it was a "story musical", with the numbers arising from situations in the narrative. Of course, it helps that the narrative is a backstage musical, where two sisters (Anita Page and Bessie Love), fresh from the country, come to New York City to make it on Broadway. Along the way, they encounter heartache and betrayal and tests on their sisterhood, but that way happens to be paved with numbers like "The Wedding of the Painted Doll", "You Were Meant for Me" and "The Broadway Melody". This was the big one for MGM: the all-singing, all-dancing, all-talkie musical which wowed 'em at the box office, and wound up with the Academy Award as Best Picture. To think this is a good movie by any stretch of the imagination takes more imagination than most people would care to give, but it is entertaining, and paved the way for "The Broadway Melody of 1936", "The Broadway Melody of 1938", "The Broadway Melody of 1940" and, finally, "Two Girls on Broadway" (1940), the remake that cast Lana Turner and Joan Blondell as stand-ins for Anita Page and Bessie Love. Though klunkier than any of the others, "The Broadway Melody" has an authentic show biz atmosphere which is certainly nostalgic. And the klunkiness of the numbers must be seen to be believed: the parodies in "Singin' in the Rain" are far more polished than anything in the original.
Nothing looks so old fashioned as something that was once considered innovative—and such is the case with THE BROADWAY MELODY OF 1929, a backstage melodrama about two sisters, smart and talented Hank (Bessie Love) and beautiful Queenie (Anita Page), who fall in love with the same man, Eddie (Charles King.)
The film is generally considered the first “true” movie musical. Some of the songs, including “Broadway Melody” and “Wedding of the Painted Doll,” are explained by their presence in a stage show; “You Were Meant For Me,” however, is presented as plot point, something that would not really become common until several years later. The performing style of the era was a mixture of frenetic and clunky, and the film captures this perfectly—but from a modern point of view the choreography feels awkward and the chorus girls are unexpectedly chunky.
The film is also sometimes accused of being unacceptably static. It isn’t true that the arrival of sound prevented cinematographers from moving the camera, but quite often directors had enough to worry about with the new sound technology and they preferred simple set ups—and that seems to be the case here. You won’t find any pans or boom shots here, but at the same time BROADWAY MELODY isn’t nearly as ghastly as the Marx Brother’s film THE COCONUTS, so it’s all relative.
At the time, all three stars were noted players, and Bessie Love would receive a Best Actress nomination for her performance. (She lost to Mary Pickford in COQUETTE.) The film was very racy for its time, frequently showing Love and Page in their undergarments and Page in the bathtub; in one particularly memorable scene, King and Page argue back stage while King, still wearing his boxer shorts, dresses for his next scene. This, and back stage characters that include a very limp-wristed homosexual costume designer and a possibly lesbian matron, made for pretty hot stuff, and today the film works best when it is backstage, for such scenes have a camp appeal that has managed to transcend the years.
Overall, BROADWAY MELODY OF 1929 is of most interest to students and hardcore musical fans and to those determined to see every single movie that won an Academy Award for “Best Picture.” The DVD is very nice, with the film in good (if not pristine) condition and a host of extras (especially clips of popular Vaudeville acts) that will fascinate those interested in the era. Recommended, and four stars for its place in history, but the modern audience will be limited.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
on March 8, 2002
Some reviewers here have slammed this musical because it's "dated, old, stilted, stagey." For God's sake, this movie was made nearly a century ago! Of course it looks stagy and stilted and old-fashioned. But in l928, when this movie was being filmed, this was all revolutionary. And it's still fantastic fun. To me, Anita Page is fabulous. She should definitely have emerged as a super-star but according to her, Louis B. Mayer wanted to play footsie-wootsie (a polite way of saying you know what) and she refused to. End of starring roles. I love studying the fashions, the fresh and original music, the lingo, that young, naive air of the Jazz Age. Watch this one and then watch "The Jazz Singer." Both are utter joys. Watch them with an unbiased mind and accept "Melody" for what it must have been back in l928 (released l929)and the incredible impact it on audiences back then.
on November 20, 2001
Invaribly dated with old-fashioned notions, sets, acting techniques - and most everything else antiqued - this film is nevertheless a fascinating historical milestone of the cinema. This was the film which is credited for starting the popularity of the backstage movie musical in the early sound era. Seen today, BROADWAY MELODY is a quaint curio filled with crude staging, hefty, lumbering chorines, and hackneyed situations - but, in its day it was (rather unbelievably) considered fresh, daring and exciting. In 1929, its success was phenomenal. Made at he cost of a mere $280,000, it took in more than 4 MILLION in profits -- (average theatre admission then was 35 cents!). It was both the first sound and musical film to win an AA for best picture; with Bessie Love winning a best actress nomination - the Oscar went, rather undeservedly, to Mary Pickford for her ridiculous performance in COQUETTE.