Warning: spoilers ahead...not that it matters.
I’m going to be honest here. I was not looking forward to this one. I’ve challenged myself with remaining open-minded. Willing to not pre-judge any of the movies I’m going to watch. But I had seen this one before, and I remember disliking it. A lot. Even with the wine. I figured this time I would be watching sober, thus making it more arduous.
While “Wings” seemed ahead of its time and still relatable today, “The Broadway Melody” is incredibly dated. Fraught with sloppy film editing and a simplistic plot line, this movie could only appeal to an audience from the 1920s watching “talkies” for the first time. I mean no disrespect to anyone who created or worked on this, it just has not held up well over the last eighty-seven years.
The story centers around two sisters who perform as a traveling “sister act” (was that a real thing?) stage show. They journey to New York City, where the smart sister, Hank, has worked out a plan with her fiancé to make the girls famous on Broadway. Hank’s fiance is a songwriter, and he has the connections to get this done, or at least he’s convinced the sisters of this. Fortunately for Queenie, the pretty sister, she doesn't have to worry about a thing. This is fantastic for Queenie, because she isn't smart enough to plan anything anyway. Who needs to be smart when they’re pretty?
Obviously, Queenie gets hired for a Broadway musical (because she's pretty), while Hank doesn’t. So now it’s up to Queenie to convince the producer to hire Hank too, which he does only to then cut her act on opening night. Meanwhile, Queenie finds herself as the replacement for one of the show’s stars. Her qualifications? She’s pretty. She then proceeds to become the most famous performer in New York, attracting the attention of some of the wealthiest men in the city. Even Hank’s fiancé professes his love to Queenie, again, because she’s so beautiful. Did I mention this all happens over the course of two weeks? In the end, this movie is the story of one girl’s life ruined by her sister. By the final scene, Hank’s Broadway dreams are crushed, and her fiancé has married her sister. She resorts to going back on the road as a traveling act with a rival performer whom she hates. All anyone can say is that she’s a real “trooper”.
There are many reasons why this is the lowest rated Best Picture winner on Rotten Tomatoes. For me, the most excruciating thing about this movie is that it’s a musical with six musical numbers. Four of these performances are the title song, “The Broadway Melody”. I’m not a huge fan of musicals (which is why I’m dreading the Best Picture winners from the 50s), but I would at least hope for some variety between the songs.
I've suffered through this movie twice. I don’t recommend you do it once. It’s a sexist, chauvinistic, homophobic bad movie about a bad stage production and one poor girl’s ruined life. Here’s looking forward to better movies in the future.
If you do feel like torturing yourself, The Broadway Melody is available on iTunes.
Up next, All Quiet on the Western Front!