Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Backstage Musical  |   Release Date - Aug 20, 1937 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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History was in the making with Broadway Melody of 1938, though few at the time were aware of it. It's not that Melody was any great shakes material-wise. The story is old hat and trite, another let's-put-on-a-show-but-how-will-we-raise-the-money rehash, with a racehorse subplot thrown in so they could stake some claim to "originality." The characterizations are paper thin, the dialogue is often pedestrian and much of the comedy is forced. The score is better, a hodgepodge of some very good and some not-exactly-a-classic. But if Melody overall is only a middling musical, it has a skyrocket in it in the form of 15-year-old Judy Garland, who received a lot of deserved notice for knocking one out of the ballpark with her "Dear Mr. Gable/You Made Me Love You," which even decades later still packs a punch. She has other bright spots as well, including a winning turn with Buddy Ebsen and a couple of choruses of "Everybody Sing" that are pure charm; but it's the "Gable" number that launched her into the cinema firmament. But Melody has more than Garland; there's some more fantastic singing from Sophie Tucker, good hoofing from Ebsen, a nice comic bit from Robert Benchley and some first class, frequently amazing Terpsichore from Eleanor Powell. If the material is not first class, the performers certainly are.