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Re: Broadway Melody, Starryeyzze's commented -"I wished that Hank and Queenie's singing and dancing was more substantial (but hey, this is the first musical)."

I wholeheartedly agree. At times I could barely stand to listen to the voices of Bessie Love and Anita Page as they were so bad. And folks. please know, I don't mean to be a jerk with this critique. It wasn't the old time sound recording quality that was the problem as that's a technical issue the filmmakers hadn't learned to master yet. Rather, it was the actual lack of singing ability and timing by the two lead ladies that was awful and what made it even more noticeable was their voices didn't blend together at all. Sadly, the obvious lack of singing/dancing talent from these two really made me wonder whether they might have "slept their way" into getting the jobs, as surely there must have been better singers available for the studio to use. Of course, such "casting couch" antics has been common since time immemorial so sadly that is a possibility.

Unfortunately, their dancing wasn't any better. It looked like they never rehearsed in front of a mirror to check their performances. Neither of them bothered to "mirror" the other's moves which would've given them a clean, unified and professional look. It was almost like these girls were "winging it" onstage. Rather than performing as a team, each danced as if she was the Star, unaware of the other. The dancers/acrobats in the chorus were also offtime from each other, which became really noticeable when they were in a lineup or kickline and supposed to do the same thing at the same time. What this film really needed was a stricter Dance Captain. Whoever handled that position let these performers get away with really sloppy, erratic looking work in the biggest number of the show. The simple choreography itself would've been fine if the dance captain had ensured that people performed precisely. Even featured acrobats were falling out of their turns/walkovers. I noticed one who was dead center in the shot even put her hand down on the floor to steady herself after she fell out of a move. Aye, aye, aye! How any Dance Captain could miss that is beyond me. Professor A. and Ben were chatting about how after Broadway Melody was released, the interest in musicals was not sustained. Though the audience had nothing to compare it with, as this was the "first musical", it's easy to understand why they'd lose interest after witnessing the lack of talent exhibited in this film. Even amateurs from their local church could have sang better, together, in tune and on time than what these supposed "film stars" did. I can imagine people leaving the theater saying, I could sing/dance better than that. Thankfully as time went on and 42nd St came out four years later, filmmakers had higher standards for performing and were better judges of talent. Busby Berkeley kept a tight rein on his performers. All the intricate and inventive formations he displayed in his choreography and camera angles would've been a disaster if he had NOT pushed his dancers to be in the best and most beautiful physical shape, well-trained and on top of their game timing wise. Even one leg out of place in his kaleidoscope "shot from above" scenes would have ruined the whole shot. The difference between Broadway Melody and the later films like 42nd St. is like night and day.

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I wasn't a huge fan either, but I think there are worse musicals. I don't think the casting and the rest was as much to blame as you put out because obviously they were struggling and limited by the technology, and probably didn't know much about the limits at the time they were trying things either. But the acting and direction definitely needed considerable improvement.

I get what you mean, if you want to just solely avoid context, and say, hey what am I going to rewatch and turn on cold one night after work... But having had the misfortune of taking a date to a **** like From Justin To Kelly, or having to sit through Grease 2...I wouldn't go worst musical. If you include animation, The King and I is was truly dreadful too.

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I think that Hank and Queenie aren't meant to be super talented.  They've been on lower level vaudeville circuits trying to save up money to get to New York.  We only have Hank's word that their act was any good.  I think that Eddie is blinded to their faults by his love, first for Hank and later for Queenie. 

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I thought their (obvious!) lack of singing and dancing abilities worked for the movie for this reason too - they were supposed to be a local vaudeville act trying their hand in NY, where the Zeigfeldian character quickly decided he didn't want them after seeing a snippet of their mess of an act.

I watched it yesterday and really enjoyed it.  I thought Bessie Love and Anita Page were both wonderful...when they weren't singing and dancing!!

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Glad I watched it.

True, the sisters couldn't sing or dance but Eddie wasn't all that much more talented.

I liked the splendor of the costumes, Hank's stamina and the idea that it was the first musical. Was surprised at how long it was, and how Hank didn't seem destined for a happy ending.

Saw it, don't need to see it again.

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I personally didn't like it at all. I found Queenie and Eddie completely annoying. I only cared for Hank to be honest, my heart broke for her when she let Eddie go and when Queenie and Eddie kept saying she could go live with them. I certainly don't think it was the "worst" musical ever but it wasn't as uplifting or as inspiring as I thought it would be.

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I read where Anita Page quit the movies in 1933 because of sexual demands put on her by Irving Thalberg supported by Louis B. Meyer. She married a naval pilot and stayed married to him for 54 years. She died at the age of 98. Bessie Love also lived a long time, passing at age 86.

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They had to start somewhere, and, let’s face it, somebody had to be first to start the ball rolling. If this movie had been made later on, it probably would have had the knowledge that movies like Dames and 42nd Street showcased. They definitely had much simpler and easier to learn choreography then when the great Busby Berkeley came onto the scene. It probably reflected the available talent of that time period, too.  The music had a definite “tinny” sound to it, and the singers needed a lot of work as well.  Going from silent to talking pictures was a huge leap.  Even though it was a corny movie with an over used story line, which we will see over and over again in musicals, comedies, and dramas, I give it a thumbs up just for the gumption these people had to film the first musical in the first place.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, I believe that it is the worst Musical that I have ever seen. This is stated from the perspective of now. Great things have to start somewhere and although the first and original idea is new it is not necessarily the best. Once an new idea is created, others usually can improve upon it and this is what happened. With time,work and continued innovation of the idea it has led to the all the wonderful musicals that have been created since.

Overall, I thought it was 'corny' but when I imagine it from the viewpoint of 1929, as recommended by Professor Ament on the TCM preview, it was probably different and intriguing. The story line was simple but easily understood so that everyone could follow along. I was surprised by some of the pre-code scenes and shots. The most surprising to me was the bathtub shot but also all the clothes changing scenes. It really must have been wild and rowdy in the 'Roaring 20's'. I guess sex on screen sold well then as it does now.

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Anyone else think Eddie was a louse? Poor Hank: adding insult to injury when they suggested she move in with them at the end. 

Problematic things from a contemporary point of view: a character stuttering for laughs, the sissy costumer played for laughs, and the guy stripping Queenie against her will.

I'm assuming "Stu" and "Bay" were supposed to be Laurel and Hardy?

I wrote down "Duncans My Patio" to google but haven't found the reference yet. 

Two moments I liked: Hank putting on a posh voice to the maid when she was checking whether there were enough towels and in the middle of the ridiculously gratuitous setup for the bath scene, Hank making the comment about how embarrassing it would be to answer the door without her robe. 

 

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13 hours ago, SusanR said:

Anyone else think Eddie was a louse? Poor Hank: adding insult to injury when they suggested she move in with them at the end. 

Lord, yes.  He hit on Queenie immediately.  His constant "boy, did you grow up since I saw you last..you're such a beautiful kid" was yuck.   I thought Hank was just as attractive as Queenie.  Did they ever say why she was called Hank?

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It is difficult to try to view this first musical with the eyes of folks who must have been thoroughly dazzled by the new medium of sound and music together in 1929. We have been exposed to all the developments in technology and the skilled Broadway talent that expanded the pool of performers. I try to slip into a childlike wonder (not easy) and appreciate this as a first step. 

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It was interesting to see women kissing on the lips to express sisterly affection. I agree with others that there was too much of characters being rude and nasty to each other, even if it was meant for laughs. Tap dancing en pointe was something I've never seen before. 

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7 hours ago, Christina 68 said:

Lord, yes.  He hit on Queenie immediately.  His constant "boy, did you grow up since I saw you last..you're such a beautiful kid" was yuck.   I thought Hank was just as attractive as Queenie.  Did they ever say why she was called Hank?

They didn't explain it within the movie but it pretty much shouts "this one is the pal, not the love interest" 

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I found this really hard to watch. The two sisters were such bad singers and so overplayed their roles that they sucked the attraction out of this film, best movie or not. I can see why the lead actors careers didn't follow into the 30's.

 

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