My mom loves musicals and passed her love on to me. After last night’s Wings viewing—a two and a half hour silent film that required a lot of concentration—I thought a 100-minute musical would be an easy watch.
The Broadway Melody, however, failed to grab my attention and is, I think, entirely forgettable.
It’s understandable why it won Best Picture in 1928/29. Talkies, as motion pictures with talking were referred to at the time, were brand new. This was both a talkie and a musical so, in many ways, it’s easy to understand why it won.
And to some degree, I feel bad nit-picking older films. Though the camera movement was still incredibly limited, there was more compared to Wings, so it was neat to see how many changes had occurred in the industry in a year. Visuals aside, however, the sound quality is bad—I’m sure due to some combination of early technology and deterioration of the originals over the years.
Still, beyond the technical, this is a film that has not aged well. There’s an abundance of men telling women what to do and manipulating them for their own purposes. True to the time, perhaps, but tiring to watch.
The film centers around the Mahoney sisters, Hank and Queenie, their Vaudeville act, their attempt to make it big on Broadway, and their love interests. At one point, they’re discussing the billing of a new act they’re putting on in connection with Eddie Kearns, one of the love interests. One of the sisters comments, “It’ll be the Mahoney Sisters and Eddie Kearns.”
To which Eddie replies, “Yes, Eddie Kearns and the Mahoney Sisters.”
It’s not a joking one-up, but rather a telling statement of the times in which this film was made—and, sadly, the times in which we in many ways still live.