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Friday, June 25, 2010

BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 (1937)

Technically, the penultimate BROADWAY MELODY is a far smoother pic than M-G-M managed on the previous edition two years earlier, but the improvements went only skin deep. Robert Taylor is still a B’way producer & Eleanor Powell is still a tap phenom, only now she sings & dances with . . . George Murphy. Did no one @ M-G-M understand metaphoric sex & the musical? (To his credit, Murphy has more charm than usual, especially in a duet ripped right out of TOP HAT/’35. The rain, the gazebo, ‘Cheek to Cheek.") At least the gags, production numbers & supporting players are better integrated this time out, but such a lackluster batch of songs from Freed & Brown. The only good tunes are ringers; Sophie Tucker spouting ‘Some of These Days’ for old time’s sake, and the young Judy Garland singing ‘You Made Me Love You’ to a picture of Clark Gable in her star-making turn. (Watch Judy closely. She’s so raw, she hasn’t yet learned how to lip-synch. They hide her mouth for part of the song and even reshot the ending to help her out.) The DVD Extras feature an Oscar’d short from newbie director Fred Zinnemann. It’s basically a silent one-reeler about hospital hygiene; corny, but effective.

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