Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1937. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Original Story by Jack McGowan, Sid Silvers, Screenplay by Jack McGowan. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Produced by Jack Cummings. Music by Leo Arnaud, Murray Cutter. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by Blanche Sewell.
None of the Broadway Melodies have any narrative in common other than all being excuses to tell stories set in the New York theatre world. This one is a weakly assembled concoction made to give the lovely Eleanor Powell more time to shine on the silver screen while also finding a few moments for MGM to throw a bone to its brand new acquisition, a teenage sensation named Judy Garland. The strangely tangential plot has Robert Taylor as a producer who convinces a wealthy benefactor to invest in his forthcoming production, which is helped by the fact that the rich man’s gold-digging, former chorus girl wife (Binnie Barnes, always cast as the woman who narrows her eyes at her prey) has the hots for him. When Barnes also decides to sell a race horse that is bringing in no prizes, it puts Taylor in the way of the horse’s trainers, George Murphy and Buddy Ebsen, and the girl whose father used to own the animal (Powell), all three of whom turn out to also be terrific with a song and dance. Powell saves the horse and puts the kids in his show, while Sophie Tucker brings Garland into Taylor’s office and insists that she be given a chance. The songs are barely strung together logically by this ridiculous narrative, but some of them are terrific and so is the dancing, so turn off your brain and enjoy.