The Broadway Melody (1929)

Genres - Musical, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Backstage Musical, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 1, 1929 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The Broadway Melody was MGM's first all-talking picture. Studio chief Louis B. Mayer had initially dismissed sound films as a fad, but when a tedious semi-documentary, White Shadows in the South Seas, was turned into a box-office bonanza simply by adding a few post-production sound effects, Mayer became committed to the new format and ordered that no expense be spared. The result was a then-unheard-of $4 million success and a Best Picture Oscar. Much of the credit for The Broadway Melody should be given to Douglas Shearer. When producer Irving Thalberg complained that one of the film's biggest musical numbers was too static, he suggested using pre-recorded music, just one of many sound engineering firsts that would be credited to Shearer, who got his job because he was Thalberg's brother-in-law. As with the first year of the Oscars, a five-member "Central Board of Judges" determined the winners. A scandal erupted when Academy founder and vote supervisor Mayer's pet project was picked for the top prize. The rules were quickly changed, and for the third year of the awards and thereafter, Academy members have selected the winners. The Broadway Melody has retained little popularity with current-day audiences, though fans of Singin' in the Rain will likely enjoy seeing the source for many of the film's reference points. Nonetheless, Bessie Love's performance stands out, as do several of the production numbers, most notably "The Wedding of the Painted Doll."