20 April 2000 | Calysta
A nice tribute to Clark Gable
My suspicions are running high that the lavish budget and extravagance of "Broadway Melody of 1938" were practice made in order to disguise the age old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney premise "Come on, let's put on a show!", away from the typical country town backyard setting, for Broadway itself in a dressed up version of a simplified recyclable plot.
It's hard to believe that Judy Garland, a dark brunette starry eyed fifteen year old as a supporting novelty prop, hence the almost non-explained entrance into the "Melody" movie, later became a threat to Eleanor Powell, the female equivalent of Fred Astaire. Despite her lack of purpose, as the daughter of a boarding house proprietress for struggling actors, Judy manages to sing up a storm with her first big hits, "Dear Mr Gable", originally sung to the King himself before its inclusion in the film, "Everybody Sing", so popular that one of her films the following year was renamed after the song, sing a bit of "Yours and Mine" in the opening credits, and a dance in a toilet roll crinoline white dress with Buddy Ebsen.
However, "Broadway Melody of 1938" was Judy Garland's earliest feature film foray at MGM, and not surprisingly for a dynamic triple threat performer of her talents, steals the show.
Horses, gambling bets, sneezing experts, owners of a frighteningly large number of dogs and simply a hell of a lot of people with budding talent all contribute to the movie's conflicting story and the famous show business line, "The show must go on" in order for Robert Taylor's Broadway producer character to finance his latest hit production, called ironically enough, "Broadway Melody".
As a dancing spectacular showcase for the brilliant talents of Eleanor Powell, the routines featured are no disappointment, notably "Follow in my footsteps", in the company of the champion racehorse on a traveling train, and the sensational George Murphy/Powell dance "I'm Feeling Like a Million". Finally, the charismatic cast is rounded up by Sophie Tucker, as Judy's mother, singing a great rendition of her special song "Some of these days".
In all, like all the movies in the "Melody" series, this isn't exactly "Singin' in the Rain", but it certainly did a lot for the audiences of the Depression era, hungry for the lavish, fun musicals, and is certainly quite a surprising pleasant musical piece for your own enjoyment.