The Broadway Melody (1929) Director: Harry Beaumont
The Broadway Melody was the first sound film “talkie” to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and it was also the first musical to be released by MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).
It tells the story of two poor women, the “Mahoney sisters” from a small town who travel to New York to pursue their dream on broadway. Hank and Queenie enter the city wide-eyed and quickly find their dreams dashed. Queenie becomes the favorite new girl on broadway, and even Hank’s fiancee Eddie falls in love with her. Queenie and Hank’s duet is dashed by a young blond woman who sabatoges their audition. Queenie is chosen to be a the central performer. Eventually Queenie is pursued by a wealthy philanthropist and sponsor of the theatre, until she realizes how possessive he is and she is rescued by Eddie. She and Eddie get married, straining the relationship between the sisters.
In the end Queenie joins a duet performance with the young blond who initially sabatoged their original audition. The film closes with a distraught Hank at the train station as her younger sister has stolen her dreams and her fiancee.
The film is hardly memorable except on two points: its novelty as the first “talkie” to win the highest Academy Award, and also its underlying skepticism to the glitz and glamor of the broadway allure. One is left to wonder if their lives would have been considerably better if they had stayed in their hometown.