Broadway Melody of 1935, 1936, is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Sunday July 16 at 6:15 a.m. est. Closed captioned.
Broadway Melody of 1936 is a confection of a movie, meant to sweeten the lives of Depression weary Americans. It stars the unlikely triumvirate of Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor. The plot is flimsy, involving the parallel efforts of a columnist (Benny) trying to save his career, a Broadway producer (Taylor) trying to find a star for his new show and a dancer (Powell) trying to get her big break on Broadway.
All this is secondary to the wonderful songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed: “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin'”; “Broadway Rhythm”; “You Are My Lucky Star”; “On a Sunday Afternoon”;” Sing Before Breakfast.” The production numbers for each song range from clever to spectacular. “I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin” is sung by Taylor and New York actress June Knight. The special effects are a delight, especially as they are done so long before CGI.
Powell proves, as always, that she is unmatched as a dancer—her energy, grace and strength are a marvel. She dances solo, with Buddy and Vilma Ebsen, with Nick Long, Jr. and with huge choruses.
Nor can the acting be faulted. Jack Benny is excellent as the gossip-obsessed wise-cracking and scheming columnist. Robert Taylor is remarkably poised and mature for his years (24) and even has a nice singing voice. The second banana roles are filled admirably by Sid Silvers and Una Merkel. If Powell and Knight are less impressive when their feet are still, it doesn’t matter—their dancing more than redeems them.
“Broadway Melody of 1936” was a high budget, high gloss, pull out all the stops, MGM production. No expense was spared for the costumes, sets, choreography or photography. The direction by Roy del Ruth is crisp and effective. We could use more films like this in our own economically challenged times. Review by me for the IMDB.
Robert Taylor and June Knight filmed a dance sequence for Broadway Melody of 1936 that did not appear in the final film. These pictures are all that is left.
This is a fun movie with all kinds of “stuff” put into it. I always use the mute button when that obnoxious snoring man comes on (probably some destitute old vaudevillian who was somebody’s friend so I guess it was an act of kindness. He does some other annoying thing in “Broadway Melody of 1938,” but I can’t remember what it was.)
I always am amazed at the actresses named by Bob Taylor in the final song – he became a leading man to every one of them, & the writers accurately anticipateted that way back in 1935.
This is a fun movie. I love the scenes where Robert Taylor clobbers Jack Benny. I agree about the annoying man–I could tolerate the yawns but not the sneezes in 1938. Somebody certainly knew that Mr. Taylor was destined for great things, didn’t they? Thank you for writing.