Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1935. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Jack McGowan, Sid Silvers, additional dialogue by Harry W. Conn, based on an original story by Moss Hart. Cinematography by Charles Rosher. Produced by John W. Considine Jr.. Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Roger Edens, Alfred Newman, Arthur Freed. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Eugene Joseff. Film Editing by Blanche Sewell. Academy Awards 1935.
Marvelous Hollywood musical provides more escapism for Depression-era audiences in the vein of the Gold Diggers movies and Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. This one, which has nothing to do with 1929’s The Broadway Melody, centres around a flustered producer (Robert Taylor) who needs a star for his latest huge production on the Great White Way. When an old girlfriend from high school (Eleanor Powell) comes to New York and finds him, he’s overjoyed to see her again but doubtful that she could play the lead. She has come to the Big Apple to become a star, however, and so with the help of Taylor’s plucky secretary (Una Merkel, in one of her best supporting roles) comes up with a scheme to get into the show. Jack Benny is top-billed as a show business reporter who gets more circulation and salary with every punch in the nose he gets from everyone he’s squealing on. Above-average writing for the genre helps, plus a wonderful Arthur Freed-Nacio Herb Brown score featuring songs that would later become associated with Singin’ In The Rain, including “You Are My Lucky Star” and “All I Do Is Dream Of You”. Powell became an overnight star with her sensational singing and dancing, most notable in the wonderful “Sing Before Breakfast” number she performs exuberantly with Buddy and Vilma Ebsen, and in the fantastic finale “Broadway Rhythm”.