Broadway Melody

The Broadway Melody

4.5 2
Director: Harry Beaumont

Cast: Anita Page, Bessie Love, Charles King

     
 

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Back in the days of laserdisc, The Broadway Melody (1929) was released as part of a four-platter box containing a brace of early MGM musicals and related titles, costing close to 100 dollars, and it looked and sounded fair. It comes off rather better on this DVD (which costs about one-fifth as much as the old laser box); the movie looks like it's gotten a new…  See more details below

Overview

Back in the days of laserdisc, The Broadway Melody (1929) was released as part of a four-platter box containing a brace of early MGM musicals and related titles, costing close to 100 dollars, and it looked and sounded fair. It comes off rather better on this DVD (which costs about one-fifth as much as the old laser box); the movie looks like it's gotten a new digital transfer and has a very well-handled soundtrack as well, with decent presence and a healthy volume, which is sort of central to its appeal. The full-screen (1.33:1) image of the 1929 movie has gotten to 2005 with some wear and scratches, and signs of some missing frames, but overall is eminently watchable, at least on a purely technical level. The film itself creaks in spots, mostly in the awkward presence of lingering elements from the silents, including the presence of intertitles at the scene changes and moments such as the lingering, static close-up for the first major dialogue sequence involving Anita Page and Bessie Love. It seems as though the latter shot, between the static camera and the lengthy shot, exists that way as a holdover from the days when title cards would have been intercut with dialogue. Otherwise, the movie has been given a very generous 27 chapters, covering the entire plot and every song. The bonus features are a very mixed bag, ranging from the awkward to the sophisticated. The first of them is the too long and not terribly funny "The Dogway Melody," a musical featurette parodying the backstage musical, using dogs in various costumes. That is followed by an array of five Metro Movietone Revues, each a mini-musical revue, the first two hosted by the too fey and annoying Harry Rose, the rest by singer Johnny Marvin, and featuring such acts as Van & Schenck, the Locust Sisters, ukulele player and singer Johnny Marvin, George Dewey Washington, Jack Pepper, the Ponce Sisters, the Reynolds Sisters, Joseph Regan, Tom Waring, Yvette Rogel, and the Happiness Boys. There's also a separate featurette on Gus Van and Joe Schenck, but the real treat in this section are the original trailers from Broadway Melody of 1936 (which is exceptionally well edited), Broadway Melody of 1938 (which is devoid of significant visuals), Broadway Melody of 1940, and Broadway Rhythm (1944). The latter wasn't much of a movie, but at least its trailer is worth seeing, just for a glimpse of Ginny Sims and Tommy Dorsey in color, and a very youthful Lena Horne, plus Hazel Scott. And if the movie itself looks as good as the trailer, it may, indeed, be well worth owning when it shows up on DVD. All of these features are accessible through a multi-layer menu that's very easy to negotiate.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Broadway Melody was MGM's first all-talking picture. Studio chief Louis B. Mayer had initially dismissed sound films as a fad, but when a tedious semi-documentary, White Shadows in the South Seas, was turned into a box-office bonanza simply by adding a few post-production sound effects, Mayer became committed to the new format and ordered that no expense be spared. The result was a then-unheard-of $4 million success and a Best Picture Oscar. Much of the credit for The Broadway Melody should be given to Douglas Shearer. When producer Irving Thalberg complained that one of the film's biggest musical numbers was too static, he suggested using pre-recorded music, just one of many sound engineering firsts that would be credited to Shearer, who got his job because he was Thalberg's brother-in-law. As with the first year of the Oscars, a five-member "Central Board of Judges" determined the winners. A scandal erupted when Academy founder and vote supervisor Mayer's pet project was picked for the top prize. The rules were quickly changed, and for the third year of the awards and thereafter, Academy members have selected the winners. The Broadway Melody has retained little popularity with current-day audiences, though fans of Singin' in the Rain will likely enjoy seeing the source for many of the film's reference points. Nonetheless, Bessie Love's performance stands out, as do several of the production numbers, most notably "The Wedding of the Painted Doll.""

Product Details

Release Date:
02/01/2005
UPC:
0012569528628
Original Release:
1929
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:40:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Medley of Marvelous musical shorts from the Vault: "The Dogway Melody," "Musicals: Van & Schenck," and a gallery of five Metro Movietone Revues; Broadway Melody musicals trailer gallery

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anita Page Queenie Mahoney
Bessie Love Hank Mahoney
Charles King Eddie Kearns
Jed Prouty Uncle Jed
Ken Thomson Jock Warriner
Edward Dillon Stage Manager
Mary Doran Flo
Eddie Kane Francis Zanfield
J.E. Beck Bebe Hatrick
Marshall Ruth Stew
Drew Demarest Turpe
Nacio Herb Brown Pianist
Ray Cooke Bellhop
James Gleason Music Publisher
Charles King Bibby Eddie Kearns
Angella Mawby Actor
Claudine Mawby Actor
Claudette Mawby Actor

Technical Credits
Harry Beaumont Director
John Arnold Cinematographer
Nacio Herb Brown Score Composer
David Cox Costumes/Costume Designer
George Cunningham Choreography
Arthur Freed Score Composer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
James Gleason Screenwriter
Edmund Goulding Original Story
Norman Houston Screenwriter
Sarah Y. Mason Screenwriter
Harry Rapf Producer
William Le Vanway Editor
Sam S. Zimbalist Editor

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:00]
2. The Broadway Melody (I) [4:14]
3. Queenie and Hank [3:38]
4. Uncle Jed's Offer [4:12]
5. The Broadway Melody (II) [4:53]
6. Audition Sabotage [5:19]
7. A Sister Team [5:16]
8. Backstage Nerves [6:00]
9. The Broadway Melody (III) [4:32]
10. Love Boat [3:40]
11. Raves for Queenie [3:04]
12. It's Not a Date [3:52]
13. Giving Girls a Ring [4:37]
14. You Were Meant for Me [3:51]
15. No Mood to Party [4:31]
16. Truthful Parson Brown [2:58]
17. Birthday Bracelet [3:18]
18. What Queenie Wants [3:44]
19. The Wedding of the Painted Doll [3:42]
20. The Boy Friend [1:54]
21. Lovers' Quarrel [4:12]
22. Fighting for Queenie [4:34]
23. Offer Taken [1:37]
24. Queenie's Choice [4:22]
25. Born Troupers [3:01]
26. Harmony Babies Hit the Road [3:03]
27. Cream in the Can [:59]

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The Broadway Melody 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Stitchymom More than 1 year ago
This is a great movie with a look into the dancing and singing that was once award winning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago