The Broadway Melody (1929)

Broadway_Melody_posterPlot: Sisters Hank (yes, Hank is a girl, take that gendered names) and Queenie Mahoney have an act, and they want to get on Broadway. Thanks to Hank’s boyfriend Eddie, a songwriter, they land a show but not without bumps in the road and vicious jealousy from other dancers. Queenie becomes a star by standing (yes, just standing) on the bow of a ship on set, garnering the attention of Jacques Warriner, who lavishes gift after gift upon the ingenue. This distresses Eddie, because after seeing her stand on that ship, he falls in love with Queenie. But he is still dating Hank. WHO ENDS UP WITH EDDIE?

(Basically, the plot of this movie is women are objects, disposable at that, and exist for the pleasure of men. Hmph.)

Best Moment: Um. Let me think. Uhhhhh. Let me consult my notes.  Hold please. The end credits. I think that was the best moment. Or maybe it was when I realized Janet Snakehole maybe watched this movie to perfect her speech patterns.

Worst Moment: Judging from the number of notes written in all caps followed by exclamation marks, I’d say pretty much the whole thing was the worst.

Fun Facts: This movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930. I’m assuming because there was no other movie nominated. But seriously, I would love to see the other films nominated that year because holy. cow. It has a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and I love the critics’ consensus there: “The Broadway Melody is interesting as an example of an early Hollywood musical, but otherwise, it’s essentially bereft of appeal for modern audiences.”

Read that last beautiful phrase one more time: “bereft of appeal.” Truer words have not been read by me today.

Here’s some of my thoughts I jotted down as I watched:

  • Queenie is literally standing and men are losing their minds about her talent. WTH.
  • Hank: “We ain’t never had to rely on our legs before…” Hank, honey, you’re wearing hot pants. Put down that righteous indignation before you hurt someone with it.
  • I can’t tell if this is supposed to be satire.
  • Ed is singing a love song to Queenie? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
  • This theme of one man dating sisters feels oddly familiar

Number of times in my notes I wrote some version of “I hate this movie”: five.

Epiphany: Busby Berkley had to stand on someone’s shoulders to do what he did, as did other directors of musicals, so I suppose this film was as good a place as any to start. Also, I couldn’t help but think of “White Christmas” as I watched–overbearing older sister tries to protect innocent/untrustworthy younger sister. Which made me wonder if I am like Hank and Betty, and if so, then DEANNE AND JENNIE I AM SO SORRY BECAUSE THOSE WOMEN ARE AWFUL.

Recommendation/SPOILER ALERT: Skip it. But if you are wondering who ends up with Eddie, here’s the final moments of the film: Eddie marries Queenie after wresting her away from Jacques Warriner’s money and good (yet creepy) looks. Hank partners up with a show girl she hated in the Broadway show, and they take their act on the road.


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