This week, I received 90 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! To all my followers, thank you for helping me reach this accomplish! In honor of this achievement, I’m going to review a film that was released 90 years ago (in 1929). While looking through Turner Classic Movie’s (TCM’s) schedule one day, I found a film titled The Broadway Melody. Because this film turned 90 years old this year, I chose to review this movie for this special post. Before this review, I had never heard of The Broadway Melody. So, I was looking forward to expanding my cinematic horizons. Was this film a show-stopper or stumble over its own dancing shoes? Keep reading my review of The Broadway Melody if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
- The acting: As a whole, the cast of The Broadway Melody was good! Anita Page and Bessie Love both gave a memorable performance as the singing and dancing duo, Hank and Queenie! What was so great about these characters is how they displayed their own distinct personalities. While Hank was out-spoken and spunky, Queenie was a quieter individual with a sweet personality. I also liked Jed Prouty’s performance as Uncle Jed! His portrayal of this character came across very believably, making Uncle Jed feel like a real person. Having him stutter was an interesting choice, as this is not common amongst characters in cinema. However, I thought that this component was incorporated well from both an acting and writing perspective.
- Use of title cards: At some points in the film, title cards were used as scene transitions and location indicators. This choice was not only creative, but also interesting. Since The Broadway Melody was the first movie musical to be “all-talking”, I felt this was a good transition from silent films to talking pictures. These title cards also added a unique stamp to the overall project.
- The musical numbers: One of the strongest aspects of The Broadway Melody is, definitely, the musical numbers! My favorite group routine was “Wedding of the Painted Doll”, as it was really well choreographed and performed! There was so much going on in that number, but it was all great to look at. Throughout this film, the best solo performance came from a ballerina who performed a tap dance on ballet pointe. Her routine was incredible and I had never seen anything like it before! This was absolutely the best dance solo in any movie musical I’ve ever seen!
What I didn’t like about the film:
- Large spaces between musical numbers: While I enjoyed seeing the musical numbers in The Broadway Melody, it seemed like this movie had far more dialogue-focused scenes. In my opinion, a good musical finds a way to balance the dialogue and music-focused scenes, creating a film that tells an interesting story and provides entertaining content. Throughout The Broadway Melody, however, there were only seven musical numbers. The ratio between the musical numbers and dialogue-focused scenes was weaker than I had expected.
- The run-time: Before I watched this movie, I was surprised to find that it was almost two hours long. Looking back on this specific production, I don’t think this story needed to be an hour and forty minutes. Because of this run-time, it caused the movie to feel longer than intended and some scenes to feel too drawn out. There was also the inclusion of scenes for the sake of satisfying the run-time. This movie would have worked better with a run-time of an hour and twenty or thirty minutes.
- A “slice of life” story: It seems like the more movies I watch, the more I don’t like “slice of life” stories (unless they have intriguing plots). The premise in The Broadway Melody felt like it was following a year in the life of the Mahoney sisters. I did not find this type of story-telling very interesting. This story also contained petty drama that I really didn’t care about. Because this drama lasted for a good portion of the film, it caused the plot to feel drawn-out.
My overall impression:
The Broadway Melody was an ok film. I can see why this movie received the honors that it did in its time. However, I think there are movie musicals that are stronger than this one. While, the story wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped, the musical numbers were the highlight of this film. They were very enjoyable and fun to watch. I found myself rewinding my recording of The Broadway Melody in order to re-watch some of the musical scenes. “Wedding of the Painted Doll” was such a great ensemble routine and the tap dance on ballet pointe solo was fantastic! With its merits and flaws, I’m still glad I chose to review this film.
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
What did you think of my review? Which movie musical is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!