Songwriter Eddy (Charles King) has just written a good one, "The Broadway Melody." He's engaged to a sweet gal called "Hank," nickname for Harriet (Bessie Love).
With the roving eye of a typical male he is thrown a curveball by becoming interested in Hank's baby sister Queenie (Anita Page), who in turn has fooled herself into thinking she can have a meaningful relationship with playboy Jock (Kenneth Thompson).
The Mahoney Sisters had been minor hits in vaudeville, but now they're on Broadway & it's beginning to look like only Queenie is talented enough to make it -- topping off with the unfortunate fact they're both in love with the same man.
The romantic triangle that launches The Broadway Melody (1929) ain't much of a story, though it's enough to hang some songs on. And the music is what this one's about.
The composters are Arthur Freed & Nacio Herb Brown, some pretty good stuff including the well-remembered "You Were Meant For Me." George M. Cohen's "Give My Regards to Broadway" though already a well known hit had not previously been sung in a feature film. Some of the art deco sets are pretty phenomenal too.
We're additionally treated to quite a novelty act in the form of rather amazing ballerinas who do a tapdance routine exclusively on tip-toes.
The Broadway Melody was MGM's first musical feature film, the first all-talkie musical out of Hollywood period, & the first sound film to win the Oscar.
It was so profitable that full color musicals were dashed into production for the next couple of years, though one thing Broadway Melody had not been was in full color. It had one reel in two-strip technicolor, for the enormous maximum overdrive number "The Wedding of the Painted Dolls."
I don't know whether the color reel has been lost, but the version generally in circulation lacks the color.
James Burrows is the fellow singing "Painted Dolls" amidst the crazy dancing, & he also sings "Love Boat." The Broadway Melody is the only chance to see this singer on film.
With spoofy character names like Jock Warriner the sleeze who courts Queenie, & Francis Zanfield (Eddie Kane) the producer of big stage musicals, it's clear everyone was having fun making this one even to the point of poking fun at folks like Jack Warner & Florence Zigfield. They also gave small roles to the composers, Nacio Herb Brown ensconced at a piano, & Arthur Reed standing around in a rehearsal room.
The film's creakiness may seem only due to its age, but early on the weak points of The Broadway Melody were being criticized or lampooned in other films. It was even spoofed in Singin' in the Rain (1952) & some of what such a truly great classic as Singin' in the Rain is making light of will be missed without having seen The Broadway Melody.
The short subject Dogway Melody (1930) is "A Dogville Comedy," a wonderfully ridiculous story of the familiar quest for stardom, played out by fancy-dressed dogs walking on their hind legs.
A lot like those old "dogs playing poster" paintings but brought to life & motion, the dogs convey human occupations & relationships & dreams in this backstage romance. The dialogue is matched to dogs barking, filmed without their actual noise.
We see chorus line dogs, singer dogs (including a black pug who sings "Mammy"), piano playing dogs, business dogs, most of 'em wearing hats. There's a doggy stage band & carpenter dogs & orchestera conductor dog.
Actor dogs are starring in an exotic tale of a Turkish harem & desert romance, with delightful doggy costumes & loads of gags. Often the dogs are on puppet strings to keep them standing up, but are apparently used to it, as they don't struggle to get off the strings.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl