Thursday, September 30, 2010

Broadway Melody (1929)

Broadway Melody, or as I call it "the kissing everyone on the lips movie" is a great achievement in the movement of talking pictures. Released just 2 years after the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, it sets great steps forward for musical films.

This film surrounds 2 lovely sisters who find their way to Manhattan to make it big in cabaret with the help of a hometown friend. How typical, right? Seems to be the standard plot-line for the majority of musical pictures of this time; the quest for stardom. However, this film is pre-code Hollywood, a time before censorship reigned supreme. I believe this adds much more of an element of interest than all the broadway/Berkley films post-1934 where everything had to be neat and tidy.

Immediately I noticed more nudity, freedom of expression (the kissing of everyone on the lips, no seriously) and more obvious sexual interactions. This spiced up the content and made, what would otherwise be a bland formulaic broadway musical film into something a little more "fun".

The two female leads, Bessie Love and Anita Page were prominant stars of pre-code Hollywood. While some of the dramatic scenes were a stretch on their acting talents, in ways they made up for it with their quirky musical numbers. The two eventually secure placements with "Mr. Zanfield's" broadway company. Both fall for the lead actor and a division is set between the sisters that threatens to tear their bond apart.

Overall it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience and it's one that is making me seek to see more pre-Hollywood code talking films.

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