I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Broadway Melody, 1929










Not Rated

“The Broadway Melody” is the musical that won Best Picture for the 1928/1929 season, second in Oscar history. It is credited to have been the first full-length movie musical in motion picture history. (Don’t confuse it with “Broadway Melody of 1940”, starring Fred Astaire, which is actually the fourth “Melody” installment.) Some say the ’28-‘29 season hosted some of the weakest films made in American cinema, mostly due to the awkward transition from silent films to the “talkies”. (In fact, there were moments of silence in this film when the sound changed a bit… perhaps it was too expensive, so they stopped recording sound whenever they could.)

The movie is about the Mahoney sisters, a vaudeville-act and chorus girls, who land in New York and try to make it big. It is equally a story/game of who-loves-who. Harriet “Hank” Mahoney (the slightly older sister) is with Eddie Kearns (the gentleman friend who helps them land roles in a Broadway show). But Eddie soon realizes he’s in love with Queenie, the younger sister, while she is being courted by a rich New York socialite. Oy…

Although the acting is not at all what we’re used to, the ladies do a pretty good job playing off each other. At times, I thought I was watching a whocanspeakthefastest contest and was grateful that I had the subtitles on. The big climactic scene at the end got so dramatic though, I found myself chuckling.

Here are some of my random thoughts on the movie that don’t really fit into a cohesive paragraph:
- I thought the flamboyant costumer for the show (within the show) was hilarious. He just had a few lines but he delivered them well.
- One sister was disappointed that she had to show a little more skin on stage, to which her sister replied, “Well, I guess that’s Broad’s Way”. Funny.
- Occasionally, between scenes, a black screen would appear with a description like “the girls apartment, after the party”. Thank goodness we’re smart enough to figure that out on our own now.
- Sometimes I wish I could get all dolled up and go out to a party like it was a normal occurrence (but I don’t want it to sound to everyone like I’m going to a potty [pah-tee].)
- Sometimes when the sisters performed together, I felt like I was watching a bad American Idol audition.
- I was a little perplexed when the sisters kissed each other on the lips… Was this normal back then? It was more than just a “good to see you, sweetie” peck, so I wonder.
- My, how our eyebrows have changed and evolved over the last century! The brows these ladies were sporting were barely curved and barely visible- just thin pencil lines.
- I swear Hank’s character was wearing an animal that was still alive in one scene. I believe they’re called “minks”, but if I HAD to wear one, I’d prefer mine didn’t closely resemble the actual animal. Or else it just looks like you’ve wrapped a long cat around the back of your neck.

“The Broadway Melody” was up against “Alibi”, “Hollywood Revue”, “In Old Arizona”, and “The Patriot” (the last silent film nominated). It is one of three winners in Oscar history that won only the Best Picture award and no other ones that it was nominated for. This was the only time in Oscar history that had two award shows in the same calendar year (in order to standardize the timing between them). The awards show for 1928/1929 was held in April and the 1929/1930 awards show was held in November. (You can see how the dating for this period can get pretty confusing.) This year, there were a total of seven categories and a different movie won for each category- something that hasn’t happened since (nor is it likely to ever happen again).

FAVORITE SCENE:

One of the musical numbers had a man flipping women up and over and landing into another man’s arms and I thought that was pretty dang cool. I don’t know if it had something to do with the reel, but it almost looked like a cartoon the way these girls’ lifeless bodies were being flung about. There are very few pictures of this movie online, so naturally, I couldn’t find this specific clip. Instead, I’ve just posted beautiful pictures of the two lead actresses.


LESSON LEARNED:

Don’t go for a man with money if he can’t back it up with some personality. Queenie makes this mistake in the movie before she accepts Eddie’s love.

Starring on Broadway takes talent, in addition to a lot of luck and knowing the right people. There was a short period in my childhood that I answered that age-old question with “I want to be a singer/dancer/actress”; in fact, it’s documented in my eighth grade graduation video. Luckily, I followed my other passion into teaching, but had I challenged myself for a career on Broadway, I know it would have been a tough road.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad this isn't available for instant streaming on Netflix. You are so funny. Next time I see you I am going to give you a big smooch on the lips because you are my sister! Yay!

    ReplyDelete