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4.5 out of 5 stars21
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 February 2005
Considering this film came out in 1929 and was the first real example of what we would recognise today as a "backstage musical" I have to say it really is outstanding. No, it's not as good as "Top Hat" or "42nd Street", but really, how could you expect it to be? Considering that "The Jazz Singer", the first real talkie, came along only two years earlier, this is nothing short of a marvel - it's as far ahead of that film as "The Matrix" is ahead of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". The DVD transfer, both sound and picture-wise, is far, far better than I myself expected, and though they sure won't appeal to everyone, the 2 hours of features (short subjects from around the time of the film's release,) included here add to the experience no end. My only criticism is that there isn't a booklet, there are no on-screen production notes, and there is no commentary. For such a landmark picture as this - in actual fact this was the first film ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture - I don't think some kind of factual background info would have gone amiss, in whatever form. Nevertheless, trust me, this is one of the best DVD releases EVER of a movie from the transitional late-20s / early-30s period, and it should be an integral part of any serious movie buff's collections whether they're especially fond of musicals or not. "Chicago" it ain't, but if you can accept the fact that this film is 75 years old and make a few allowances for the technical problems the cast and crew must have faced in making it, this film cannot fail to brighten up your life. Buy it right now.
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on 3 October 2009
This vintage musical has actually stood the test of time remarkably well. Considering the fact that the film musical was in its infancy in 1929 and that there were technical challenges in terms of recording sound and camera movement, the makers of "The Broadway Melody" did a good job. It is an entertaining back stage story which is well paced with the familiar mix of heartbreak and humour.

Three of the most popular songs of 1929 were introduced to the public through this motion picture: Broadway Melody; The Wedding Of The Painted Doll and the evergreen You Were Meant For Me. "The Wedding Of The Painted Doll" is the most elaborately staged and still glitters after 80 years.I also enjoyed "Truthful Pason Brown" sung by a male quartette with guitar accompaniment - a real period piece.

Bessie Love gives an impressive performance and is at ease with the new medium. Leading man, Charles King, is more theatrical and Anita Page stunningly eyecatching. It should be borne in mind that these actors were making the transfer between silent films, where actions were exaggerated to express a plot, and the more natural style of the talkies. They were learning a new craft and I think performed well under the then unnatural conditions.

The film copy is generally good but the picture quality deteriorates in the scene where Queenie recieves flowers for her birthday - though not for too long. The extras include an MGM short called "The Dogway Melody" which recreates parts of the main feature with the addition of other songs like "Singin' In The Rain". This is a bizarre and rather disturbing film with dogs dancing, acting, singing and playing instruments!
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on 9 March 2008
For its age this movie is extremely watchable and very entertaining. Its worth having just for the position it takes within the history of the American musical. the first musical actually written for the screen, all talking, singing and dancing, with the first proper musical film score, it is a fascinating movie with lots to recommend it.

Sure, some of the acting is typically wooden, as were many of the early talkies, but Bessie Love's acting is superb, easily out-shining the other members of the cast, and the songs are tuneful and well presented (particularly the title tune and @you were meant for me'). Any movie buff serious about their musicals just HAS to own a copy of such an important movie.

Brilliant extras too: particularly the short film 'Dogway Melody', if only for it being completely outlandish, with its dogs singing and dancing to their own version of the main feature.

Worth having.
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on 7 August 2011
I've probably been a bit mean here with my rating as Ive been spoilt by all the later hollywood musicals but then again its me that has to watch it.I got this out of historical interest more than anything else and considering its age its story has worn surprisingly well and was the blueprint for all that followed in this genre.In spite of this slightly negative rating this is a fun film.
This was done well before the Hays office came into play and there are some quite risque moments here including a rather effete costume designer who complains that the hats he's made are getting crushed by the slightly(to modern eyes)plump dancers as they go through the door.To his "I designed the hats NOT the doors" comes the riposte "if you had they'd have been lavender"!
Also theres seems to be an inordinate lot of hugging and kissing going on between the two leading ladies which in those days probably didnt mean a thing but nowadays look suspiciously like the prelude to girl on girl action!
The bonus features are quite (unitentional )funny with a very camp master of ceremonies and a very bizarre feature featuring dogs doing a send up of the main feature!!
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on 16 July 2010
Most of my friends wouldn't even know that this film even exists, and I feel sorry for them. I love this film more than the "The Jazz Singer". The actors are good and did well when sound films were new and hard to make. The musical numbers are stunning, expecilly 'The Wedding of the Painted Dolls' which is my fav scene in the whole film. The condition of the film is good for a film of this age, and the sound is good too. The extras have a short film called "The Dogway Melody", a trailer gallery and a short called, "Musical: Van and Shenck". There are Korien subtitles, but you take them off. If you would rather have the Region 1 DVD then get it. But I would recomend this one if you don't want Region 1. I just can't recomend this DVD enough! I Love it!!
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on 5 December 2015
I wanted to see what the first ever musical looked and sounded like, and wasn't diappointed in the least. I love this film, and more so every time I watch it because the characters/actors are so likeable. The restoration isn't bad at all, considering the film's age. Time, however harmful it can sometimes be, cannot take away the qualities that make a film good. Here for instance, the songs are catchy, the story believable, the pace fast, and the ending happy, even if it seems unlikely to happen for most of the picture, we finally get the conclusion we are all hoping for.
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on 21 March 2014
The thirties were all about Broadway and it was here that musical performers reigned supreme - and today they can't be matched. Even in black-and-white the talent on all sides showed through, and in most cases the talent was great. Great tunes came from these films, though mainly they were about the same story told in different ways. I loved these pictures ever since my mother took me to a small local flea-pit to see "42nd Street" and the name Busby Berkeley was firmly implanted in my mind.
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on 11 April 2015
The screen's first musical - it is the shape of things to come. What followed was better, but as the template this makes fascinating viewing and Anita Page and Bessie Love are well worth watching in one of those backstage Broadway show stories. It got the Oscar and one can see why. It also shows what the musicals Kelly would end up making in Singin' In The Rain would be like. Really worth acquiring if you like the Hollywood musical.
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on 20 November 2012
Considering the age and relative rarity of this film this is a pretty good quality print. In addition to the now traditional 'putting on a show' story (which became a staple of the Busby Berkeley musicals later on) and Bessie Love's surprisingly effective acting, it is interesting to see 'You were meant for me' sung in such a way as to advance the story line, probably the first time this was ever done in film.
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on 31 August 2011
Although this is classified as the first Hollywood musical, it is not the best by a long mile. It was interesting to watch from a technical point of view, the use of camera angles, lighting and the many jump cuts between scenes, but the acting is dire and the plot very leaden.
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