Take 3: Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) Review

When I published my Hallmark Hall of Fame Reading Challenge last March, one of the literary works I listed was Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. While I’ve never read the play, I was interested in seeing how Hallmark Hall of Fame would adapt this particular story. Sadly, I couldn’t find this specific version on DVD, VHS, or digital, as a lot of the collection’s movies from the ‘50s to about the early ‘80s appear to be lost. When I discovered Vincent Perez starred in the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, I thought seeing this version would be the next best thing. It was also a perfect choice for The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon, as it was listed under the “Movies Made From Broadway Shows” section in the very first announcement for the event. This blogathon also happens to take place days before Vincent’s birthday, so this became another reason to review Cyrano de Bergerac! I was able to obtain a copy of this film, but I had to purchase two DVDs and a Blu-Ray just to find one that worked with my home entertainment system. Read my review to find out if this film was worth the search!

After weeks of searching, I finally found a DVD copy of Cyrano de Bergerac I could watch! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscren.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Since I chose this film because of Vincent’s involvement, I’ll talk about his performance first. One aspect that stood out to me was how his voice was always soft-spoken. This fit his character, Christian de Neuvillette, well because he wasn’t as confident with his words, like Cyrano. I also noticed how sincere Vincent’s performance came across. No matter what situation Christian is in, he always has his heart in the right place. The goodness of this character showed through in Vincent’s portrayal, which helped Christian be as likable as possible! Since I just mentioned Cyrano, I will now talk about Gérard Depardieu’s performance. The word I’d use to describe his portrayal of the titular character is expressive. Every feeling Cyrano was experiencing felt genuine, emotions appearing in his facial expressions, body language, and poetry. Toward the beginning of the film, Cyrano performs at a local theater and participates in a dual shortly after. Gérard was able to adapt to every situation given to his character. Besides Vincent and Gérard, the cast is filled with talented actors and actresses. Anne Brochet is one of those cast members, bringing a gentle nature to her character, Roxane. Through emotionality, Anne brings her character to life in a way that feels believable. One example is when Christian and Cyrano visit her at her balcony.

The historical accuracy: As I’ve said before on this blog, the quality of a film’s historical accuracy can show how much a creative team cares about their project. The historical accuracy of Cyrano de Bergerac is proof of this statement! The world in this movie felt immersive, presenting the locations with a sense of realism. The set designs reflected the financial situation/social status of the characters, with the local bakery and Roxane’s room being perfect examples. While the bakery featured a simpler interior design, Roxane’s room appeared elegant. Costumes looked appropriate for that specific time period, with the color palette for the cast’s wardrobe ranging from lighter shades of beige and blue to darker tones of gray and black. Tools and utensils from yesteryear were used by the characters, such as Cyrano and Christian applying a wax seal on letters to Roxane. This movie shows that no detail was ignored.

The humor: One of the strongest elements of this film was the humor! Not only was it well-written, but the humor itself seemed to fit that world. The funny moments within Cyrano de Bergerac were also given good executions by the actors. My favorite scene is when Christian continuously interrupts Cyrano’s story by making references to Cyrano’s nose. During this exchange, Christian would sometimes only say “nose” to get a reaction from Cyrano. While Christian appears unfazed by Cyrano’s reactions, Cyrano becomes more irritated as the scene continues. This scene made me repeatedly laugh, as I found it hilarious!

The Third Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/announcing-the-third-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The under-utilization of Vincent Perez: Vincent Perez is one of the reasons why I sought out the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac, as I’ve enjoyed his acting performances so far. Before watching this movie, I knew his involvement in the project was a break-out role and likely the biggest role he received at that time. However, because Vincent is billed as the main supporting actor, I was disappointed to found out he was in the film for a limited amount of time. The majority of the story revolves around Cyrano, which means that Vincent was only given a reduced amount of material to work with. There were even large intervals when Vincent was not featured on screen. Usually, main supporting actors receive about half the screen-time the film’s protagonist does. In the case of Cyrano de Bergerac, however, the antagonist, Comte Antoine de Guiche, is given more prominence in the production than Vincent’s character.

The war storyline: Prior to seeing Cyrano de Bergerac, I had a general knowledge of what the story was about. The movie is even classified as a “comedy-drama”, with the assumption that the romantic aspects of the story would fall under the “drama” part. While the comedy and romance within Cyrano de Bergerac dominated the first half of the film, a storyline involving a war took over the film’s second half. The build-up toward the event and the reasoning behind it felt too “inside baseball”. It also caused the entire story to pull a “bait and switch” with its overall tone. Based on the knowledge I had about this film and even based on the DVD cover, I expected the light-hearted tone within the first half to have a consistent presence throughout the film. Even though there were romantic and light-hearted moments within the second half, some of them didn’t feel like they fit in the context of the war.

The poetic monologues: I’m aware that Cyrano is known for being “a man of many words”. I also know the original play was written only in verse. The poems themselves weren’t the issue, as the poetic monologues within this film were performed and written well. However, some of them lasted too long. Toward the end of the movie, Cyrano recited one of his signature monologues. Because it was long in time length, the monologue made the scene drawn out. I realize that the reason for the long monologues was to satisfy the film’s run-time. Personally, I think, at least, a few of the them should have been a bit shorter in length.

Birthday cake image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/chocolate-birthday-cakes-collection_765437.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/birthday”>Birthday vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’ve heard that the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergeracis “the definitive film version of the Edmond Rostand play from 1897.” This is the only film version of the story I have seen. As I also said in the introduction, I have never read the play. So, I can only judge this film simply as a film. Cyrano de Bergerac is a good, solid movie! I found myself invested as the story was unfolding and I can definitely see how this could be presented on Broadway. The poetic dialogue was an interesting choice that helped this project achieve a unique identity. However, there were aspects that prevented the production from being better than it was. Some of the poetic monologues were too long, causing scenes to feel drawn out. Despite flaws like that one, I’m glad I was given an opportunity to see this film! If you do choose to watch this version of Cyrano de Bergerac, keep in mind it is a rarer title to find on physical media. While this movie did receive a Blu-Ray release, prices can get expensive.

Overall score: 7.6 out of 10

Do you enjoy movies based on Broadway shows? Are there any literary adaptations that you like? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun on Broadway!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Stepping Out Review

Shelley Winters is an actress that I was familiar with before joining The Shelley Winters Blogathon. I’ve seen The Diary of Anne Frank, What’s the Matter with Helen?, and Lolita. But out of those three movies, her most memorable role is Helen from What’s the Matter with Helen?. Shelley was able to bring a very haunting element to that character, giving the audience a reason to feel uneasy toward her. As I searched through her IMDB filmography, I came across a film called Stepping Out. When I read the synopsis, it sounded like a very sweet story. Because of this, I choose the 1991 picture for my entry in the blogathon. When it comes to blogathons, I rarely have an opportunity to review musical films. In fact, the last movie musical I reviewed was Summer Magic for A Month Without the Code back in August. I also learned that Stepping Out was based on a pre-existing play. If I hadn’t watched a Youtube video where Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert talk about their least favorite films of 1991, I wouldn’t have discovered this valuable piece of information.

Stepping Out poster
Stepping Out poster created by Paramount Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SteppingOutFilmPoster.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: As I said in my I Remember Mama review, every actor and actress is expected to bring the best of their acting talents in an ensemble cast. With confidence, I can say that all of the actors and actresses in Stepping Out did a fantastic job in their roles! The chemistry between all of the characters was strong, making their relationships feel believable. Andi, portrayed by Sheila McCarthy, and Geoffrey, portrayed by Bill Irwin, are a perfect example of this. During the duration of the film, Andi and Bill develop a friendship that survives outside of the studio setting. Their interactions give the audience the impression that they truly care about one another. Though her role in this movie was smaller than in other movies, Shelley Winters had a memorable on-screen appearance! Her performance was consistent and her sense of humor was subtle yet effective. I also liked hearing her singing performance when she shared, in one scene, that it was Irving Berlin’s birthday. Despite her limited amount of screen-time, Shelley still found a way to make a big impact in this story!

 

The film’s sweeter moments: Throughout the film, there were sweet, light-hearted moments that I enjoyed seeing. Anytime Mavis encouraged her students and tried to help them become the best dancers they could be, it was very refreshing to see a teacher figure with realistic goals. Even when there were obstacles within the dancing lessons, the students were able to find moments of positivity and humor. One example is when there was a mix-up with their costume hats. It was also nice to see the students trying to help each other outside of the studio environment. When Maxine offers Rose’s son a job, it shows the team dynamic that Mavis strives for during the movie. It also displays how the characters are able to put the needs of others before their own.

 

The dance numbers: Seeing the dance numbers in Stepping Out was a highlight! Since the story revolves around Mavis and her students, all of the dance numbers are performed by them. Despite this, they are all entertaining! Whether it was Mavis’ solo or the group numbers that appeared toward the end of the film, these dance numbers were well choregraphed. It also helps that a good percentage of this cast had Broadway experience prior to appearing in Stepping Out. Their experience and performance related knowledge worked in their favor, as it brought a sense of realism to the dance numbers.

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Masks of comedy and tragedy images created by freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Some characters receiving more character development than others: In Stepping Out, I found that some characters received more character development than others. Two examples are Andi and Mrs. Fraser. This story gave Andi a fully developed back-story. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fraser’s back-story resides in only two sentences. There are even some characters that don’t receive any character development. Dorothy, portrayed by Andrea Martin, is one of them. I understand that in an ensemble cast, it’s not easy providing a story and character development to every character. But, for me, it left more to be desired.

 

Some under-utilized actors: I noticed within this cast that some of the actors were under-utilized. One of these actors is Geza Kovacs, who I talked about in my editorial, “Why Jiggy Nye is Not an Effective Villian in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure”. In his role as a club manager named Jerry, he did a good job with the material he was given. However, he was only in the film for two scenes. I know that this particular character didn’t provide as much to the story as other characters did. But I find it frustrating when talented actors and actresses aren’t given an opportunity to fully utilize their talents.

 

A weaker second half: While watching this movie, I felt the second half was weaker than the first half. This is because some parts of the story were drawn out more than others. A good example is Andi’s story. As I stated before, Andi is a character that received a well-developed back-story. However, it was drawn-out longer than it should have been. To me, this issue is the result of the run-time and a script that wasn’t as tightly written. Even though the film’s second half contained two very entertaining dance numbers, the story itself could have been stronger from start to finish.

Shelley Winters Blogathon banner
The Shelley Winters Blogathon banner created by Erica from Poppity Talks Classic Film and Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews. Image found at https://poppitytalksclassicfilm.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/announcing-the-shelley-winters-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

Stepping Out made me feel the exact same way that Moulin Rouge! did. The film had sweet moments and other factors that I liked. But the story as a whole could have been stronger. Some of the downfalls include select characters receiving well-written backstories, some under-utilized actors, and a script that’s not as tightly written as it could have been. However, these elements did not make this movie one of the worst I’ve seen this year. Even though this project had its flaws, the cast, as a whole, shines in the spotlight! This is especially true for Shelley Winters! When we think about actresses who’ve graced the silver screen, Shelley, to me, seems like one of the underrated ones. I don’t hear her name being added to the conversation as I do for other starlets, such as Audrey Hepburn and Bette Davis. But during my year of blogging, I learned that this is the reason why blogathons exist. These events provide a platform to talk about almost anything and everything, so it’s great to see blogathons take the time to give lesser known stars and other movie related topics their “standing ovation”.

 

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Shelley’s films? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

 

If you want to check out the video that I referenced in this review, type “SISKEL & EBERT: The Worst Movies of 1991” into Youtube’s search bar. Just to let you know, there is some language and suggestive topics discussed in this video. The segment about Stepping Out starts at 6:55 and ends at 8:33.

Take 3: Jersey Boys Review + 115 Follower Thank You

Before I begin this review, I would like to thank all 115 of my followers! I achieved this accomplishment two weeks ago! However, I wasn’t able to publish this post as early as I had wanted to. That’s because I started my Clean Movie Month reviews and was participating in a few blogathons. But I fortunately found the time to share this blog follower dedication review with the people who have helped my blog grow and thrive! For this post, I have chosen a movie that was released in June of 2014. Even though I talked about a musical in my previous blog follower dedication review, I chose the film, Jersey Boys, for this particular post. I was familiar with the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, so I could appreciate the songs that appear in this film. When it comes to the band itself, I didn’t know much information about them. This movie was, to a certain extent, educational. That’s because this film explores the history of The Four Seasons. It also talked about how some of the songs were created, as well as who the members of the band were. So, let’s learn more about Jersey Boys through this review!

Jersey Boys poster
Jersey Boys poster created by GK Films, Malpaso Productions, and Warner Bros. Pictures. Image found at https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/jersey-boys/.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: One of the strongest components of this film is the acting performances! From what I’ve heard, the cast consisted of actors and actresses who also starred in the Jersey Boys stage play. I feel that this was a good decision because this means that before film production began, they already knew their characters. This shows in all of the acting performances, as the actors and actresses appeared to be comfortable in their roles. Something I noticed while watching this film was the accents. As I’ve said before, accents in movies can be hit or miss. In Jersey Boys, however, the accents sounded authentic enough to be satisfying. This goes back to the fact that the cast is from the original stage play, as they had plenty of time to perfect that part of the performance!

 

The aesthetic: I really liked the world that was created in this film! Everything looked and felt like the time period in which this story took place in. Even the cinematography correlated with the previously mentioned time period. This showed how much the creative team behind this movie cared about the details that went into their project. It also made the movie feel immersive, like the audience themselves are visiting that world. The locations and settings of Jersey Boys were visually appealing!

 

The music: Because this movie is about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the majority of their music is featured throughout the story. Since I like their music, I found these parts of the film to be enjoyable. Jersey Boys was a stage play before becoming a movie, as I’ve said before. This aspect worked in the performers’ favor because they were familiar with the music prior to the film’s production. All of the actors in the band sounded close enough to the original group to keep me, as an audience member, satisfied. It added to the authenticity of their collective performance!

music sign
Music and stage image created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/music-sign_1179519.htm’>Designed by Topntp26</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/vintage”>Vintage image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Breaking the “fourth wall”: At certain points in the movie, some members of The Four Seasons told their story directly to the audience. While this was an interesting idea, it didn’t work as well as it could have. This is because the “fourth wall” was broken so infrequently, it ended up feeling out of place. Only three members of the group get to break the “fourth wall”. The only time Frankie Valli gets this kind of moment was toward the end of the movie. The fact that more than one person was trying to tell the story made it difficult to decipher who the key narrator was supposed to be.

 

Scenes that don’t mesh together: When it comes to movie musicals, the segments of story and music are supposed to work together to create a cohesive narrative and propel the story forward. One example is when Mother Abbess sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in The Sound of Music. But I never felt that the story segments and musical segments meshed together in Jersey Boys. Anytime a musical segment appeared in the film, it felt like the story segments were paused for the sake of presenting the musical segments. This disrupted the flow of the narrative.

 

The run-time: Jersey Boys is a two hour and fourteen-minute film. Because of this run-time, the movie felt longer than it was intended and some scenes were too drawn-out. Having the film set at one hour and thirty or forty minutes would have worked better for the overall production. Drawn-out scenes could be shortened to a length of time where that part of the story could get straight to the point. If the “fourth wall” moments that I mentioned earlier were reserved for the end of the movie, this would shorten the run-time as well.

61511-OANU9Y-551
Diner image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/american-vintage-restaurant-hand-drawn_902205.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/food”>Food vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At best, Jersey Boys is an ok film. I can definitely see how this project could work as a Broadway stage show. However, this particular story would have worked better as either a documentary or as a mini-series. There was so much interesting content to this narrative, that I actually learned more about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons than I had expected. But, because of the set run-time, there was only so much material that was discussed. Even though I learned a lot about this particular musical group, I feel like I could have discovered this same information on the internet. When it comes to movie musicals, Jersey Boys is not the worst of them. But there are movies within this genre that are better than this one.

 

Overall score: 6 out of 10

 

Do you like that music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons? Which movie musical do you like? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Little Nellie Kelly Review

I know that it’s been two weeks since I last wrote a movie review. Because I was out of town around that time, I chose to reschedule several of my planned blog posts to later dates. But, when it comes to posts relating to blogathons, I always try my best to be a blogger of my word and publish my lists, reviews, or editorials within the blogathon time-frame. When I signed up for the 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon, I knew, right away, that I would be reviewing the film, Little Nellie Kelly. Before this review, I had never seen or heard of this movie. Plus, the synopsis on Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) website said that this film is about “the daughter of Irish immigrants patches up differences between her father and grandfather and rises to the top on Broadway”. Because I knew that Judy Garland was the star of this production, I figured that I would, at least, find some enjoyment in this movie. Was my prediction correct? Was there enjoyment to be found in Little Nellie Kelly? Please keep reading if you want to find the answer!

Little Nellie Kelly poster
Little Nellie Kelly poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Poster_-_Little_Nellie_Kelly_03.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: Something I’ve noticed about Judy’s films (specifically the ones that I’ve seen) is that she surrounds herself with a talented cast. This is no different for Little Nellie Kelly. Charles Winninger’s portrayal of Michael Noonan was such a pleasant surprise! He brought so much emotion to his performance that it ended up being effective. Judy’s performance was also great to watch! Her emotions and musicality helped her portrayal of Nellie Kelly be as strong as it was. I also liked George Murphy’s performance as Jerry Kelly! His acting talents helped carry this film alongside his co-stars.

 

  • The comedy: In Little Nellie Kelly, there were comedic moments that I truly found to be hilarious. One scene has Nellie telling her father that she’s going to get married to Jerry. As soon as her father hears this, he unexpectedly spits out his coffee and makes a big mess. This moment made me laugh out loud! As I watched the film, I noticed that the majority of these comedic moments were caused by Charles’ character, Michael. Because of this particular actor’s quality of talent, it made the film’s comedy stick the landing.

 

  • Some of the montages: There were two montages in Little Nellie Kelly that I really liked. The first one was when Jerry, Nellie, and Michael go through the process of becoming citizens of the United States. When it comes to cinematic stories about people immigrating to the United States, this aspect of the narrative is rarely explored. The second montage I liked showed the process of Jerry becoming a police officer. In film, when a character chooses to be a police officer, they are usually shown either before or after they accept the job. Like the first montage, this process is not always featured in cinematic narratives. Even though these montages didn’t last very long, I’m glad they were included in this story.

2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner
The 2nd Annual Broadway Bound Blogathon banner created by Rebecca from Taking Up Room. Image found at https://takinguproom.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/announcing-the-second-annual-broadway-bound-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • An inability to hold an accent: Because some of the characters are from Ireland, hearing accents from them is to be expected. While Charles Winninger did a good job when it came to carrying the accent, I felt that Judy and George’s ability to carry an Irish accent wasn’t as strong. When I watched Little Nellie Kelly, I never heard Jerry talk with an Irish accent. Meanwhile, the only time Nellie spoke with an Irish accent was when she sang “A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow”. Because of Judy and George’s inability to carry an accent, this prevented a sense of continuity to exist amongst the characters.

 

  • A limited amount of musical numbers and comedy: Even though I liked the comedy in this film, there were very few comedic moments to be found. Throughout this one hour and thirty-eight minute picture, there were more dramatic moments than comedic ones. In this movie, there were a total of about four to five musical numbers. That’s a lot less than I was expecting. The film’s opening credits said that Little Nellie Kelly was based on a “musical comedy”. But, if anything, this project felt more like a “dramedy” (a combination of comedy and drama), with an emphasis on drama.

 

  • Judy Garland portraying Nellie Kelly Sr. and Jr.: In the movie, Judy portrays two characters; Nellie Kelly and her daughter. While different hairstyles helped, a little bit, to differentiate between the two characters, this creative decision still baffled me. I understand that MGM wanted to utilize Judy’s talent as much as possible. However, I still think that Judy should have portrayed only one character. Because this movie is called Little Nellie Kelly, Judy could have portrayed the daughter, while another, slightly older actress could have portrayed Nellie Kelly Sr. That way, Judy could have still been the leading star of the movie, while the other actress could also receive a significant amount of recognition.

233200-P2SBE6-483
St. Patrick’s Day image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/st-patrick-s-day-background_1640464.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

I like Little Nellie Kelly for what it is. There are elements to the film that make it enjoyable, such as the musical numbers and the acting. However, I found this movie to be somewhat misleading. As I said in the introduction, this synopsis said that the protagonist “rises to the top on Broadway”. Not only was this location never mentioned in the film, but Nellie never aspired to be an entertainer. What makes this even more frustrating is how few musical numbers there were and how little comedy there was in the film despite it being called a “musical comedy” in the opening credits. From what I’ve heard, this movie is based on a pre-existing Broadway musical. Because I have never seen the stage version of this story, it’s difficult for me to say if the movie was anything like the play. This kind of reminds me of how I felt about Edward, My Son. Both of these films were based on plays and made me felt like I was misled. I can’t fault the creative teams behind these movies too much, since their job was to adapt their respective plays to the screen. However, a good amount of honesty should have been included into each film’s synopsis.

 

Overall score: 7.2 out of 10

 

Have you seen any of Judy Garland’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Broadway Melody Review + 90 Follower Thank You

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!

The Broadway Melody poster
The Broadway Melody poster created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broadway_Melody_poster.jpg

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!

The Broadway Melody poster card
The Broadway Melody lobby card image created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/12482/The-Broadway-Melody/#tcmarcp-173805.

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.

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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!

Sally Silverscreen