Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! All Killing!"


For the second episode of the new series Best Pictures From The Outside In, Nick, Goatdog and I took a look at a dancing sister act in New York (Broadway Melody, 1929) and those mirrored brother moles in Boston (The Departed, 2006). Though this is an absurd pairing from either end of Oscar's timeline, there are a couple of similar features. Both movies are big on technique: Broadway Melody advertised itself as "All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!" arriving as it did during the death rattle of the late silents (which were hugely superior to the early sound films); The Departed has Martin Scorsese, a showman who loves freeze frames, iris fades and any manner of cinematic tricks.

For those of you unfamiliar with Broadway Melody it's the story of The Mahoney Sisters, Hank (Oscar nominated Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page), a regionally successful vaudeville act trying to make it in the Big Apple. It's very much of its time. The sisters join the "Zanfield" Revue and Queenie has to fight off the advances of movie mogul "Jacques Warriner", so I think you know already (if you know anything about showbiz history) that it was a contemporary inside-showbiz thing. It probably resonated with them back then and the idea of sound pictures was still fresh and super-exciting.

Our first Best Picture match-up (Wings and No Country) had wondrous parallels and both movies were top grade. This time out, it's a massacre. The Departed is a great movie. Broadway Melody is ... not.


Read the entire lively discussion @ Goatdog's blog

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Broadway Melody" has sequels, though. "Broadway Melody of 1936" "...of 1938", "of 1940". It's like they had a prototype that they weren't quite sure what to do with, but lots of spectacle was foremost in their mind. The last one "Broadway Melody of 1940" is a terrific picture with two of the greatest dancers ever, perfectly matched, Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire. They finally got the formula to perfectly succeed.

So that could be a comparison between "Broadway Melody" and "The Departed", since "The Departed" is also kind of a part of a series on an ongoing theme. In that case, Scorsese succeeded at the end of series in finally getting an Oscar as viewers were able to see the complete series. In Broadway Melody, the series was awarded at the beginning because of its potential.

And in both cases, you could say that the wrong movie of the series got the award.

- Adrianna

sheba said...

Yer not the first folks to note that rather intense relationship between the sisters in BM. Especially from Hank's part. Well, I had to have it pointed out to me too before I thought about it, but when I checked out the IMDB reviews of the film, sure enough, it was mentioned. Some even speculated that the sisters were not actual sisters at all... But I think that was wishful thinking from their part.

A bad movie in any case, one of the worst winners certainly.

Anonymous said...

Cant wait until Crash/All quiet on the Western Front!

NATHANIEL R said...

that's not till next week. for now ANNOYING BROADWAY SISTERS and MURDEROUS BOSTONIANS.

Discuss!

Benji said...

These are really two films that are impossible to compare. One bad all-singing, all-dancing musical, and one very good all-shooting gangster film. Let's call it "Bored-way Melody"...

All-shooting singers and dancers in "Broadway Melody" and all-singing, all-dancing policemen and hoodlums in "The Departed", now THAT would be fun.

Nick Davis said...

That picture at the top of this entry is worth more than 1,000 words.

NATHANIEL R said...

thanks. i actually feel kinda bad that I killed her off at the end of the post :(

bessie love being my favorite performance in the movie and all. for as much as I disliked the movie I did feel that her performance was surprisingly naturalistic at times. like their were hidden cameras a couple of times. weird for such an early film.

The Jack said...

"All-shooting singers and dancers in "Broadway Melody" and all-singing, all-dancing policemen and hoodlums in "The Departed", now THAT would be fun."

Wouldn't that just be comparing 'Chicago' and 'West Side Story'?

Benji said...

very good point, the jack

Sean said...

1928-29 (I liked all of the nominees this year)
1. Alibi
2. In Old Arizona
3. The Hollywood Revue of 1929
4. The Broadway Melody
5. The Patriot (I don't think this exists anymore, so I haven't seen it)

2006 (Everything was good except for The Departed)
1. Babel
2. The Queen
3. Letters From Iwo Jima
4. Little Miss Sunshine
5. The Departed