Oscars Challenge #44: The Broadway Melody (1929) Movie Review
Winner of Best Picture at the 2nd Academy Awards, you might immediately think that the first ten winners will be recognized and preserved because they are part of the Academy's history.
This film, for me, did not age very well. As much as I want to respect films from this era and their influence on succeeding movies, I honestly didn't like this one. It may have been a blockbuster hit back then, but it will be forgettable if you compare this one to today's standards.
This is also the first musical to win the prestigious award. It's also the first musical film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
We follow the story of Eddie Keams, who informs his chorus girls that he brought New York the Mahoney Sisters to perform the Broadway Melody musical with him. Hank Mahoney and her sister Queenie are waiting in Eddie's apartment. We learn that Hank is the older sister who has a knack for business and talent, while Queenie is praised for her beauty. Hank declines the offer of Uncle Jed for a 30-week traveling show.
Eddie is engaged to Hank, arrives, sees Queenie for the first time, and is instantly taken with her. He tells the sisters to come to Francis Zanfield's rehearsal to present their performance. However, a woman sabotages their performance which causes a fight with Hank. Zanfield is not interested in it and says he might have a use for Queenie, but she also begs him to include Hank for a shared wage. Eddie becomes more interested in Queenie. Zanfield cuts both sisters in the musical play.
Queenie then replaces one of the performers because she gets injured after falling off a set prop. Her appearance captivates everyone, including a playboy named Jock. Hank is upset because her sister's success is built upon her beauty, not her talent.
Queenie spends a lot of time with Jock, which Hank and Eddie disagree with. They prevent her from seeing Jock, which makes her angry and deteriorates their relationship. It seems that the only reason Queenie sees Jock is that she is starting to fall in love with Eddie. Eventually, the two confess their love, but Queenie decides to go with Jock for some reason.
Hank soon realizes that Queenie is in love with Eddie after she witnesses their argument. She convinces Eddie to go after her and claims she never loved him. After he leaves, she cries and laughs, then calls her Uncle to agree on the 30-week show. Eddie tries to fight Jock but gets knocked out by him. Queenie runs to Eddie and leaves Jock behind.
A few years later, Hank and her Uncle wait for Queenie and Eddie's return from their honeymoon. Queenie announces that she will settle down and quit the entertainment business. She tries to convince Hank to live with her after her job is over with their Uncle and her new partner, which turned out to be the one that sabotaged the show beforehand. The movie ends with Hank telling her partner they will return to Broadway after six months.
As much as I want to praise and respect the movie because it is one of the early winners and the Academy's rules in picking winners might not have been well established yet, I still didn't like the film. It's very forgettable, I wouldn't say I liked the main characters, and the plot gets confusing. There are some moments where it gets racist, and I wouldn't say I liked that.
The musical numbers were also uninteresting. I am not entirely moved by the soundtrack, even though this should be a musical film.
I liked the grandiose set they made for the Broadway musical scenes. I can't imagine the effort done to make it. Plus, it would be a lot of work if they ever did a reshoot and had to tear down and build the set again.
This is one of those Best Picture winners that you can skip because everything doesn't make sense. If you want to complete all the films from the Academy Awards, you might think about this. Unless you are a completionist like myself, you can try this one, but if you are not, please skip this one,
No wonder this is the lowest-rated Academy Awards Best Picture winner by Rotten Tomatoes. Its 42% rating makes it unenjoyable. Maybe this film has not been preserved yet by the institute because of the bad reviews it's received.
A very disappointing 1 out of 5 stars.