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Enjoyed clip. Interesting that the film was made during Great Depression with it showing no regard for the cost of things, like the flowers in the dressing room and the tip to the doorman. In the notes with the clip I read how this was sanitized for the reason of the new coding. I can see that though I still thought Ziegfield's expression was not so much soft and was strongly villanous and had a "wait till I get my hands on you" look. That surprised me in this clip. Mr. Billings is played by the actor who plays the Wizard in Wizard of Oz. I hadn't seen him in any other films I can think of. Also, the theme of two men competing over a woman is in this film and as audiences seem to love this, it went on to be in many more films, still does besides musicals.

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Thanks for sharing who played Billings. I was wondering why he looked familiar. One of the things I enjoy most about watching old movies and TV shows (Perry Mason is one of my husband's and my favorites) is spotting people that were in other things. I particularly like seeing someone at the beginning of their career who went on to become major stars. Like seeing a very young James Arness and Amanda Blake in a movie on TCM, and then a 30-second one-line role by Richard Dreyfus that was so minor he wasn't even in the credits! (Sorry if this got a bit OT, I hope that's okay.)

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The actor who played Billings is the wonderful Frank Morgan. He was in many MGM movies. He was the shopkeeper in the black and white film, "The Shop Around the Corner" with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan (which later was made into the musical "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson and inspired the contemporary digital-related version, "You've got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.) Another wonderful film I love that featured Frank Morgan (our favorite Wizard) was "Boomtown" with two Legends of the Cinema, the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable and the incomparable Spencer Tracy, who fight over Claudette Colbert, while the lovely Hedy Lamarr brings her special brand of Va-Va-Voom to the screen!

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24 minutes ago, StarstruckKidTurnedPro said:

The actor who played Billings is the wonderful Frank Morgan. He was in many MGM movies. He was the shopkeeper in the black and white film, "The Shop Around the Corner" with James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan (which later was made into the musical "In the Good Old Summertime" with Judy Garland and Van Johnson and inspired the contemporary digital-related version, "You've got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.) Another wonderful film I love that featured Frank Morgan (our favorite Wizard) was "Boomtown" with two Legends of the Cinema, the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable and the incomparable Spencer Tracy, who fight over Claudette Colbert, while the lovely Hedy Lamarr brings her special brand of Va-Va-Voom to the screen!

Thanks, Kid. And I think one of Morgan's best performances was in The Mortal Storm (1940).  Also starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Robert Young. An early film warning Americans to pay attention to those Nazis.

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I've seen this musical before, but when I watched this time, I considered the lecture notes. I wished that Hank and Queenie's  singing and dancing was more substantial (but hey, this is the first musical). Perhaps I am using current standards but Eddie's character is sleazy.  He is engaged to Hank but from the beginning he is leering and coming on to Queenie.  The most sympathetic character is Queenie, who appears to be the mold for what would  become the blonde bombshell or the dumb blonde. Everyone, including her sister Hank treats her  as if she is incompetent and like she can't think for herself.  When they played "You were meant for me" it was used as background music and that was OK.  I know Arthur Freed wrote both songs, but the title song, "Broadway Melody",  was overused, I hope I don't hear it anytime too soon!

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FYI Broadway Melody is pre-Great Depression. It was released in February, and the Great Depression started to begin in August/September 1939, and then there was the big stock market crash day Black Tuesday at the end of October 1929.

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In the introduction to Broadway Melody (1929) (released 1 February 1929), Ben Mankiewicz and Vanessa Ament surprisingly agreed that this was the first musical. It is usually accepted that The Jazz Singer (1927) (released 6 October 1927) is the first musical. IMDB lists 18 soundtracks in Jazz Singer. It is listed as a musical in IMDB, wikipedia, filmsite, www.warnerbros.com/jazz-singer , en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Jazz_Singer , musicals101.com/1927-30film.htm , etc.

Jazz Singer was followed by The Singing Fool (1928), My Man (1928), and a few other full-length musicals before Broadway Melody. Indeed, I wish they had played The Jazz Singer and another early classic Fantasia (1940). But can't have everything.

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Obviously an important movie and groundbreaking movie, but like some groundbreaking movies...it didn't hold up that great to me. It might've wowed a lot of people at the time to see people talking and doing musical numbers, but plenty of later ones did things a lot better and while innovating things that would get recycled going forward and eventually seem formulaic. Anyway, I didn't like a number of the voices, that might've been a technology issue somewhat perhaps, and lots of the acting was bad, even probably for this era. The direction wasn't so hot either. I've got to watch HALLEJUAH later, but I think King Vidor or somebody like that would've at least pushed the visual elements more. Choreography also clearly got pushed ahead a lot more too in the following years.

It is funny though how MGM as a studio would develop a rep for sophistication and glamor, when this movie didn't hit me that way at all. I didn't hate it, but I imagine this is probably a consensus bottom 10 for those Oscar best picture completionists.

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I did my best to watch it with time period and context in mind. Hank was my favorite character, especially when she finally calls out Eddie for being in love with Queenie. I also liked that everyone was supportive of Hank’s desire to continue performing and not settle down. Of course, her sister MUST give up her performing dreams because naturally, a woman can’t be a career woman AND a decent wife. *cue the eye rolls.*

The thing I found really interesting is that the sister angle reminded me a lot of “A League of Their Own.” One sister being considered “the natural” and the other being more passionate about said talents. Hank also reminded me a bit of Mama Rose- only being more determined to succeed when encountered with setbacks and replacing a beloved partner, but keeping the same act. 

Is it a great film? Nope, but I can definitely see some seeds getting planted for what musicals would become as they grew and matured. 

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15 hours ago, dspear7 said:

Indeed, I wish they had played The Jazz Singer and another early classic Fantasia (1940). But can't have everything.

Fantasia! Ah, yes. I was mesmerized when I first saw it -- in a slightly altered state -- from the first row of the theater. I know critics and maybe audiences didn't swoon when it was released and it's a bit long but dancing elephants, Mickey and the buckets, so much more! Thanks, Walt & Co.

fantasia.htm

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I have had another thought. So much has been said already that these early movies were to help people deal with or escape their hard lives. I read where studios made these musicals and they were very lucrative for them. People, during the depression years barely could cloth and feed themselves. Many could not find work? My grandfather traveled all over looking for jobs and would send home what he could. My mom has told me how rough this time was. I think she might have said a movie cost a nickle or something like that but still even an extra nickle was hard to come by. How could they afford to go to movies which I guess were the main form of entertainment? How were studios making a lot of money, from whom?

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I remember going to a show at the Kennedy Center in the 70's and hearing a lot of the songs from this musical.  I wonder if it was a revuval of some kind?  I'm going to show my age, I was in grade school.at the time.  I didn't appreciate the music at the time,now I'm glad my parents took us. 

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1 hour ago, DJane said:

I have had another thought. So much has been said already that these early movies were to help people deal with or escape their hard lives. I read where studios made these musicals and they were very lucrative for them. People, during the depression years barely could cloth and feed themselves. Many could not find work? My grandfather traveled all over looking for jobs and would send home what he could. My mom has told me how rough this time was. I think she might have said a movie cost a nickle or something like that but still even an extra nickle was hard to come by. How could they afford to go to movies which I guess were the main form of entertainment? How were studios making a lot of money, from whom?

My mother (still going strong in her 90s) grew up during the great depression.  Her dad had a good job all throughout that era.  They went to the movies twice a week, usually.  Told me just this morning that she remembers seeing Top Hat when it came out in 1935.  A large segment of the U.S. population was relatively unaffected by the Depression.  Of course others were nearly ruined by it.

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Thanks for the comment. Added more to my understanding. My mother is also still living and will be 95 in September. Unfortunately, she has dementia and can't really remember things. At first it was short term and she could easily remember things long ago. 

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I wish I had seen the lecture video first before seeing this movie Born to Dance. I have seen it before and for some reason enjoyed it more the first time. However, after seeing the lecture video more makes sense to me. Jimmy Stewart is my all-time favorite actor and I enjoyed his singing also. One thing I did NOT enjoy was Reginald Gardiner doing the Cop "conducting" the imaginary orchestra. I guess I forgot to think of the times and cultural setting of the film but I thought, seeing it now, very boring and well, kind of stupid. Sorry! Anyone else wonder what in the world this had to do with anything in this film?

Edited by DJane
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Yeah, I felt much the same way, Djane.  According to the video conversation between Dr. Ament and Gary Rydstrom the reason we see stuff like this in some of these early films relates back to the vaudeville days when you would expect to see a variety of acts.  So right in the middle of a love scene they just throw in this way strange comedy act.  Kinda makes sense, but only kinda.

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On 6/5/2018 at 12:05 AM, GeezerNoir said:

Thanks, Kid. And I think one of Morgan's best performances was in The Mortal Storm (1940).  Also starring Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Robert Young. An early film warning Americans to pay attention to those Nazis.

Yes! The Mortal Storm!

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