Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Broadway Melody (1928)

(fm Chris) This is a real charmer. So much to say about what must have gone into this film. You would think it was written by Mormons! The message (loud and clear) is that one would practically be better off dead than having sex outside of marriage! I'm not saying whether that view is right or wrong, but it is fairly comical to watch a major motion picture be created just to drive that message home. Which leads to the philosophical question: which came first -- the moralizing or the musicalizing?

We couldn't help but laugh through much of the film. The 'rescue' of the star from a sexual situation (just in the nick of time -- as one today would rescue someone from a ticking bomb) is particularly dramatic.

One of the film's many ironies is that its biggest star, Anita Page, was blackballed from the movie business (by her own account) for decades because she refused to grant sexual favors to studio bosses. Even one of the 'M's in 'MGM' (specifically Louis Mayer) allegedly colluded to have her banned from films for this. Wow, a company with the audacity to make such an absurdly moralistic film while grossly violating that very message ... my, have times changed? She returned to acting in her eighties to do slasher movies. I can't decide if this also ironic, but it's pretty awesome.

The best thing about this movie is the special features! Despite this film's comical over-the-topness, what will forever stand out most about this particular pelicular (yes, I made that word up -- spread it around!) experience is the hilarious "Dogway Melody" that graces the special features on the DVD. It's the whole movie, literally acted out by dogs. Complete with songs, dances, piano playing, and culminating in that beautiful chastity-rescue scene. If, in a terrible "Sophie's Choice" moment, you were forced to choose, don't pick "The Broadway Melody" -- just watch the "Dogway" version instead. It's even funnier, and much shorter.

My beautiful spouse nearly killed me, however, for wanting to watch all of the (seemingly millions of) other special features. So many cute family singing acts, so little time! I kept calling out "But it's a time capsule, baby! Come in here; you've got to see this one!" We felt about the (seemingly hours) of 1930's adorability just as we feel about "America's Funniest Videos", namely opposite.

Interesting facts:

· The Broadway Melody was one of the first musicals to feature a Technicolor sequence, which has been lost.

· It is often considered the first of the Hollywood Musicals

· It spawned three sequels (thank goodness none of them won BP).

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