Thursday, August 12, 2010

1928/1929: The Broadway Melody

Well, now I know where they got a lot of the songs from Singin in the Rain!

So, basically as I expected, this was a film about wanna-be stars trying to make it on Broadway.  What I didn't expect was for it to be as good as it was.  True, the premise has been used and re-used way too many times now, but you have to remember, this was 1929.  Films had barely started talking.  I was pleasantly surprised with the sound quality, and while it may have been restored sometime in the last 80 years, the fact remains that this film was revolutionary in its day.  The previous best picture winner was completely silent, and this film was all-talking.  The only clue that it was anywhere close to the silent era was the occasional shot of a title telling the time and place.

I don't want to imply that this film was merely good for its time because, while it's incredible for 1929, it's a pretty good movie period.  The characters were very well-developed and believable, the dialogue was mostly well-written and interesting (as long as you can get past the '20s slang that sounds hopelessly cheesy today), the songs were mostly good (the best ones showed up more than 20 years later in Singin' in the Rain), and the performances were excellent, particularly Bessie Love's.  Maybe it's just that my somewhat low expectactions were far exceeded, but I thought The Broadway Melody was one of the better films of its kind, especially since it was the first.

Stay tuned for All Quiet on the Western Front!

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