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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Broadway Melody (review)

A Coupla Swell Kids

The Mahoney Sisters are successful singers in the boondocks, and now they’ve come to New York for the big time. Hank* (Bessie Love) is the smart one, Queenie (Anita Page) the beautiful one (except of course they’re both gorgeous) — as Hank’s fiance Eddie Kearns (Charles King) says, they’re “a coupla swell kids.”

Eddie, a songwriter, gets the girls a part in a revue featuring his song, “The Broadway Melody” — a story that, in the days when filmmakers were still trying to figure out what to do with their new medium, offered the perfect excuse to plop a camera in front of a stage production and fill it out with some behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

And what shenanigans they are. Eddie, long engaged to Hank, falls for Queenie, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. But Eddie and Queenie are both devoted to Hank, and Queenie gives in to the wooing of a rich and sleazy playboy so as not to come between Hank and Eddie. Which only causes more trouble, because both Hank and Eddie know exactly what kind of danger the sweet and innocent Queenie has put herself in at the playboy’s hands. There’s lots of yelling and crying, some punches are thrown, and it all wraps up in a mostly happy manner, naturally.

The Broadway Melody’s snarky, wiseacre humor and effervescent charm save it from being completely dated, though the dance production numbers — pure padding, all — may try your patience.

*Henrietta? The movie never explains.

Oscars Outstanding Picture 1928/29
unforgettable movie moment:
When Hank finally realizes that Eddie is in love with Queenie, and despite her broken heart, convinces the man she loves that she doesn’t.

previous Best Picture:
1927/28: Wings
next Best Picture:
1929/30: All Quiet on the Western Front

go> the complete list of Oscar-winning Best Pictures

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The Broadway Melody (1929) | directed by Harry Beaumont
US/Can release: Feb 01 1929

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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