The first of many musical Best Picture winners
The Broadway Melody is a 1929 musical comedy directed by Harry Beaumont and stars Charles King, Anita Page, and Bessie Love. In addition to the Best Picture victory, Bessie Love was nominated for Best Actress.
Charles King plays Eddie Kearns, who takes his song called, "The Broadway Melody" to be performed at a vaudeville act in New York. Awaiting him in New York is his fiancee, Hank (Love), and her sister Queenie (Page). Eddie takes the two to a rehearsal where both are able to land a part in the act. Eddie begins to grow more enamored of Queenie, who later receives the affections of rich playboy, Jacques Warriner.
I would bet money that any average Joe alive today has never seen nor heard of The Broadway Melody. Certain films from the Pre-Code Hollywood time period can be difficult to recommend when it comes to appealing to modern audiences, largely in the fact that these films are usually dated. The Broadway Melody suffers from being dated, but not only that, it also suffers from insipid musical numbers, bland storytelling, and unconvincing acting.
- Bessie Love as Hank. Although several of the performances are forgettable, Love brings a charming presence to the screen and makes the case, at least in her time, as to why she was deserving of a Best Actress nomination. She is bubbly and cheerful, and never oversteps her boundaries.
-The uninteresting musical and dance numbers. The singing and dancing are joyless and lack any semblance of energy and purpose. To top it off, the film is intent on showing every female character in a flashy, suggestive costume. This was in the Pre-Code era, so if they could get away with it, they would. The women are basically half-naked all the time, and whatever music or dance routine they're a part of has no given purpose or pizzazz. It's understandable why Eddie is there singing his Broadway Melody song, but what's the purpose of a woman in a long blonde-haired wig standing and pointing on top of a boat, while a man is singing a song that isn't opera or a well-defined love song?
- The love-triangle story. Surprisingly, the musical and dance sequences take a backseat to the love-triangle between Eddie, Hank, and Queenie, which really takes over the movie. Eddie falls in love with Queenie rather unconvincingly. Eddie is swooned by Queenie's beauty, and he is charmed when Queenie helps get Hank in the vaudeville act. That's about it. Was that really all it took for people to fall in love and get married back then? Also, Hank never gets distraught over the fact that her fiancee, Eddie, is falling for her sister. When Hank finally learns about Eddie being in love with Queenie, she acts somewhat tolerant towards it. Love works in mysterious ways I suppose.
Over the years, The Broadway Melody has shaped up to be one of the weaker Best Picture winners. The film may have been lauded in its time, but through the lens of today's society, it comes off as an uninteresting and melodramatic musical that is further weighed down by its senseless love triangle. The many superior musicals to win Best Picture in later years would leave this film all but forgotten.
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