Monday, July 12, 2010

100 years, 100 films 20: The Broadway Melody (1929)

I didn't hate this movie because of the corny dialogue. I didn't hate this movie because of the static camera work. I didn't hate this movie because of the wooden acting, the fact that it is riddled with poorly executed cliches, the slow pacing, the fact that this is a musical with maybe fifteen minutes of music, or even the fact that you sometimes really, really feel those non-musical minutes dragging on. All those things would have lead me to disliking the movie, obviously. But none of them would have made me hate the film as much as I do. What made me hate this film was the fact that I hated the characters. They all act like utter shitheads.

Okay, so this is the plot of this movie: two sisters who had moderate success in small town vaudeville move to New York to try and make it on Broadway. One of the sisters, "Hank" Mahoney (played by Bessie Love as the smart, sensible, brunette one) is engaged to Eddie Kearns (played by the unattractive and completely unlikable Charlie King). The other sister, "Queenie" Mahoney (played by Anita Page as the dumb, sexy, blonde one), has serious mental problems, that the rest of the cast proceed to make terrible, corny jokes about. Eddie falls in love with Queenie (because, you know, she's like, super hot, or whatever), and spends the rest of the movie acting like a complete shitheel, constantly trying to cheat on Hank. Queenie has feelings for Hank, but in order to try and diffuse the situation, goes out with the rich (and therefore apparently and inherently evil) Jacques Warriner (played with a certain amount of legitimate charm by Kenneth Thomson), who proceeds to do absolutely nothing wrong. Hank and Eddie flip their shit for no goddamn reason, banning Queenie from seeing Jacques, apparently because he'd never give her a wedding ring. I understand Eddie's attempts to stop Queenie - Jacques is totally getting in the way of his plans to bang his fiance's sister - but what the hell is wrong with Hank? What, someone isn't allowed to have a little fun just because it won't lead to marriage?

So then Eddie confesses in increasingly obvious ways to Queenie that he wants to have sex with her. Queenie finally admits she knows what he's talking about, and would totally be up for it if it wasn't for, you know, her sister and all. Queenie is trying to be noble, here. But Eddie almost immediately fucks up Queenie's attempts at nobility by acting like a COMPLETE asshole and talking about his lust right in front of Hank's face. Hank finally comprehends what's going on, and rather than just throwing Eddie's stupid, attempted-cheating ass to the curb, decides that she will nobly stand aside and let this dickface and her sister get married, because, you know, it's the right thing to do, for some reason. Apparently letting your sister get married to a shithead who tries to cheat on his fiance is fine, but letting her run around with a real rich guy who does nothing but treat her nicely is abhorent.

God I hated Hank and her holier than thou bitchery. And I hated Eddie and his stupid, ugly face, and his stupid, ugly treatment of his fiance. And I hated Queenie for not just bitch slapping Eddie in his stupid face. The only character in this film I didn't hate was the ostensible villain of the movie, Jacuqes Warriner, who I was supposed to hate without even beeing provided any kind of a proper reason. Does this film really want me to think that an innocent little love affair between two unmarried, unattached people is somehow worse than a man trying to cheat on his fiance? What the fuck, movie. What the fuck. Make Jacques Warriner the dashing hero, and Eddie the villain, then maybe I'd like you better. As it is, I find you absolutely abhorent.


  1. Do you already have your year-by-year film list, or do you make it up as you go along? The reason I ask is that when you get to 1931, I hope you view "The Smiling Lieutenant," an Ernst Lubitsch gem that's a quantum leap ahead of "Broadway Melody." You will find it hard to fathom that only two years separate these films.

  2. Yeah, sorry, but I do already have all the movies worked out in advance. I did review Lubitsch's "The Doll" in 1919, so that's something, but I really do need to see more of his stuff. It's just that hardly any of his films are released on DVD in Australia, which means I have to order them from America, which can be a pain. But I will certainly see "The Smiling Lietenant" at some point.