Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Broadway Melody of 1936</strong> (1935)

(On Cable TV, June 2018) While occasionally billed as a sequel to the Oscar-winning The Broadway Melody, this 1936 update is almost entirely unconnected (save for the title song) to the original. On the other hand, those lucky enough to experience both movies as a double-feature evening will be shocked to notice the rapid progress of the Hollywood musical between 1929 and 1935. After a perfunctory opening that suggests a better technical control over sound and dialogue (and clearly sets its mid-thirties Manhattan/Broadway setting), the film hits its early peak with “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’”, a full musical number complete with furniture popping in and out of the scenery, and even rudimentary (but effective!) split-screen special effects. Clearly, Hollywood had a few years to work out the kinks of musicals, and the result feels far more natural than its predecessor. Adding a plot that largely revolves around journalism is another way to keep things interesting, although by the time the story diverges in an elaborate attempt to promote a non-existing singer, only the repeated punchline of a character slugging another in the face is good to keep things interesting. Director Roy Del Ruth’s Broadway Melody of 1936 is relatively obscure these days, and as such represents your average Hollywood musical of the period. It’s far more interesting as an example of the form than as a particularly interesting film in its own right. Still, I did enjoy it: it may not hold a candle to the Astaire/Rogers musicals of the time, but it’s fun enough to be watched without fuss.

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