The original backstage classic shines with GREAT EXTRAS!
Eric | Columbus, OH | 02/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first talkie to win the BEST PICTURE Oscar finally comes to DVD, and it was well worth the wait.
Warner Home Video has packaged a dandy new DVD of "THE BROADWAY MELODY" that looks better than any 75 year old movie has a right to. I've never seen the film look or sound so good.
The story is hokey and predictable, but it was a trend-setter in its day. The great songs of Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown debuted here including the famous title tune and YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME.
As much fun as the movie is, the superb extras WB has assembled here are worth the price of the DVD alone. 5 METRO MOVIETONE REVUE shorts from the 1928-29 era, filled with long-forgotten vaudeville stars, shine here, proving that some of these performers were really terrific and shouldn't be forgotten. Added to this, is a nifty little vaudeville short with the team of Van & Schenck who perform two novelty songs, one of which will have you rolling on the floor.
Last but not least is the DVD debut of MGM's 1930 DOGVILLE COMEDY SHORT-The Dogway Melody. This 20 minute classic features an all Canine cast, parodying The Broadway Melody. It was co-directed by Jules White, who later helmed THE THREE STOOGES best shorts at Columbia.
You'll love the movie, which is packaged with its original poster on the cover, and the extras make this an extra special treasure for any true classic film fan."
A Curio for the Curious ... with Great Special Features
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 02/09/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Movie: **1/2 DVD Quality: **1/2 DVD Extras: *****
The legend is told that in 1928, M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer urged that his studio's production of "The Crowd" not be given the Best Picture Award because he preferred that M-G-M win the award the following year for their planned musical blockbuster, "The Broadway Melody". Whether the story is true or not, it is almost certain that "The Broadway Melody" captured the public's interest and critical hosannas not because it was a great movie, but because it was an innovative one. Here was the biggest, grandest, splashiest example of a brand new genre, the musical film; and musicals, which had only become technically possible a few short months ago with the introduction of sound, were very much in fashion. Seen today, in proper historical context, "The Broadway Melody" is a film that commands respect, but not as much affection; for while it pioneered many of the conventions associated with the great Hollywood musicals, it has long been surpassed by the films that came after it. Its backstage plot was bettered a scant four years later in "42nd Street"; its musical production numbers were trumped around the same time with the innovations of Busby Berkeley; even its wonderful score was reprised more beautifully in later films such as "Singin' in the Rain". Today, "The Broadway Melody" is more an historical curio, something definitely worth a first or second look, but not a classic most viewers could or would watch again and again with sustained enthusiasm.
That said, the DVD release of this artifact is genuinely a delight, primarily because the extras are so fascinating. The movie itself is given a somewhat shoddy film-to-DVD transfer: the video is desperately in need of some digital restoration work in several spots; ditto, the soundtrack; and it would help tremendously if the lost two-strip Technicolor footage could be located and restored to brighten up the black and white print. As for the aforementioned extras, they include the Theatrical Trailers for the three subsequent "Broadway Melody" films plus the rarely seen Technicolor trailer for the 1944 "Broadway Rhythm"; the "All-Barkie" canine parody short film "The Dogway Melody"; and six other rarely screened musical shorts from the dawn of the sound era, all of which feature vaudeville veterans performing their shticks for the camera - my favorites were the woman dressed in male drag who sang a spicy song about sailors, and a young lady who turned cartwheels while tap dancing! Overall, despite my reservations about the main feature, this DVD offers a great package of unusual entertainment, and is definitely recommended to M-G-M musical completists as well as to those who would enjoy the offbeat Special Features."
A FILM WINNER & A DVD WINNER.......
Graham McIlroy | Sydney, NSW. Australia | 02/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At last, the FIRST great musical of the silver screen is captured on DVD, to be enjoyed over and over again. Okay --so the story is cliched ---- but this film did it FIRST!... and opened the doorway for " 42nd Street " to elevate the status of the film musical four years later. Okay -- so the dance routines look a little flat and strange --but then we watching something that happened 75 years ago. But it's great to see all those 20's/30's fashions; hear the Jazz Age slang; study the dancing styles and techniques of that era -- and of course hear THOSE SONGS again ( and again and again), some of which have become US Standards. But with all its defects, the story moves rapidly. We are also " treated" to some 1929 attitudes towards gay men and women, which although not complimentary is in keeping with the almost vaudevillian, outlook towards gay cliches. It is a pity that the 2-strip Technicolour musical sequence is missing, even though Technicolour is listed in the credits. Overall however this is a worthwhile, and important film in the development of US Cinema, although it may not have the "artiness", or the quality of the great silent films and some other early sound films. However, it was an MGM production and the values were high. The acting performances are in tune with the story and the times amd again we are transported back to when our grandparents or great grandparents were " playing up" and rebelling, just as we did, and future generations will continue to. The DVD transfer is a little grainy and " messy " in parts, but the sound quality is superb. The features are of great historical and entertainment value, although I felt a little embarrassed by the dressed up " talking " dogs ... but again that was great entertainemnt " in those days ". The MGM musical revue shorts are just wonderful.... vaudeville acts, with overly made up men, who wiggle and flap their hands around..and dainty maidens standing in a group with big bow sashes. But great examples of an industry trying to master and perfect the new sound techniques. If you love Film , or have a passion --or a quiet interest -- in musical films, this HAS to be part of your collection. Another film that will never die... I bought this DVD and love it. Have played it 3 times already --- have only had it for 3 days. Buy it and enjoy...... why not give Granny and Grandpa a real suprise, and let them see it and wander down Memory Lane.. ?"
JB | Ireland | 02/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just wanted to write my first Amazon review to thank Mr. Felstein and all at Warners for this disc. I hope they'll continue to release early sound films (and also a lot more silents!).
I really enjoyed the movie and thought the DVD image was very satisfactory. Clearly, they didn't have the camera negative to work from - but they did the best they could with what they had. A complete restoration would be nice, but, I guess, would be too expensive as yet.
The movietone shorts didn't seem to be camera-negative, or direct print-down, either - though the short 'Dogway Melody' might have been - it often looked beautiful, if even the content was a little disturbing :)
My one complaint is that no information was presented on the fascinating short films. I would have liked to know what year they were from, when MGM got serious about sound, who the acts where, if they made it into movies ... and so on.
A highly recommended disc for all who love musicals and the early sound years. Thank-you again, Warners! Keep those rarities coming! "
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 04/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anybody fooled into thinking that "The Broadway Melody of 1929" is a full-fledged musical be forewarned. This film is essentially a backstage melodrama with acting and story values that are not uncommon to your average daytime serial. Certain allowances have to be made for this film because it is an early talking picture and the craft of working in this new medium had yet to be refined. This is not to say that the film doesn't have anything to recommend it. Bessie Love as Hank, the level-headed sibling of the film's featured sister act, gives probably the only full-bodied acting job. Anita Page as Queenie, the starstruck sister, is extremely easy on the eyes. There's a fantastic song score by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. Ultimately one has to view this film more as a historic artifact and appreciate it for the ground it broke for future musical projects. This DVD contains an amusing parody of the film, "Dogway Melody" performed entirely by canines. As enjoyable as this short subject was it gave me a little bit of a pause because it appears as though the dogs are being manipulated by invisible wires."