"This smash musical that won the Oscar for best dance direction was headlined by leggy Eleanor Powell abetted by a cast of superb dancers who danced, well.. spectacularly.
At 5'6', Ms. Powell is not Maurice Chevalier's little Gigi, but when she flashes one of her signature dance moves at you, you ARE sent crashing to the ceiling! Once you've seen a few of her flicks, you wait - with baited breath -- for some of her athletic moves so perfect they shame Olympians. This was Eleanor Powell's first starring role, made when she was a fresh, nubile 23. She became -- as they say -- an overnight sensation.
She plays a talented small town (Albany - as compared to NYC) lass who comes to the Big Apple hoping her high school squeeze (the young and impossibly handsome Robert Taylor) - now a biggie producer will give her a break. Taylor, a truly excellent actor, is clueless in his semi-officiousness and handicapped by the entreaties of the show's angel, (played deliciously by June Knight, a great hoofer in her own right) whose financial backing - she thinks - entitles her to the lead role - and a chuck of the producer's romantic affections. Robert Gordon (Taylor) wants to send Irene (Powell) back to safety of Albany.
The young Jack Benny plays a sleazeball tabloid reporter who provides the plot complications, aided by his undeft henchman, Snoop (Sid Silvers.) (Benny got top billing here and while great, he was over-ranked.) Cameo appearances by Frances Langford - a popular singer for decades - gave big-name heft to the movie. Irene's (Ms. Powell) plight is rescued by Taylor's clever Samaritan secretary (Una Merkel) who disguises Irene as a sexy French Fireball to get the starring role.
Fantastic dancing abounds. Powell, hoofing with Buddy & Vilma Ebsen, will knock your socks off. (Powell's vertical high kicks shame the Las Vegas show girls!) But the first big dance to the tune of "I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'" is just sensational - sans Powell - with June Knight (the angel) and Taylor's assistant in this flick, Nick Long, Jr. I cannot find any other movies in which Mr. Long danced. Indeed, he changed his vocation to set direction, but in this movie, he makes moves that rival Gene Kelly's, Donald O'Connor's and which even Fred Astaire could not do. You hafta see this.
While Ms.Powell's tap as the coquettish French fireball is fetching, her ballet in the dream sequence to "You Are My Lucky Star" is soul-stirring. When Powell arcs one of her shapely gams in a near-perfect circle (one of her signature moves) you thank heaven for little girls, because they grow up in the most delightful ways. Eleanor Powell certainly did. "
Strictly for Musical Fans!
Charlotte Kendall | Bay City, MI | 02/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So far this is my favorite Broadway Melody movie from the series. Anyway the movie stars Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell, Jack Benny, Una Merkel and Buddy Ebsen.
The movie is about about dancer Irene Foster (Eleanor Powell in her screen debut) who goes to New York hoping her old high school sweetheart Bob Gordon (Robert Taylor) (who is a big broadway producer) will give her a big break in his new show. Bob won't give her a big break. He feels that Irene should go back home and not get into show business. During this time Bob needs money for his new show so he gets support from Lily Brent (June Knight) a wealthy young widow. She also wants to star in his new show and she wants to be his love interest. Reporter Bert Keeler (Benny) starts to spread rumours about Bob and Lily. This upsets them both and in some scenes Bob runs madly thourgh a newspaper office and punches Bert in the face. Since Bob won't give Irene a chance to even audition his secretary Kitty Corbett (Una Merkel) disguises her and makes her audition as this French singer.
Here are the numbers in the movie: Broadway Melody- It is sung in the beginning by an unidentified male singer.
You Are My Lucky Star- Frances Langford sings this in a studio on the radio.
I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'- This is a big production number and its my favorite! It has Robert Taylor singing (who carries a pleasant voice) and June Knight (I think she has a nice voice) singing. Then these chorus girls sing and dance with this guy. After they dance the same guy dances with June Knight. It is such a great number. It even won an oscar for best dance direction.
Sing Before Breakfast- This number is sung and danced by Buddy and Vilma Ebsen and Eleanor Powell. Its a cute little number.
I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'- Frances Langford repeats this number on a stage.
You Are My Lucky Star- This is another big production number. Eleanor Powell sings and dances gracefully to this number. In this number she pretending she is on stage in a show. It is a beautiful number. It is one of my favorites!
On a Sunday Afternoon- This another of my favorites. Buddy and Vilma Ebsen sing and dance to this number. It is very cute. They are rehearsing a number in a show!
You Are My Lucky Star- This is danced later by Eleanor. I think this number shows how great of a tap dancer she was!
Broadway Rhythm- This is the big production finale and its great! It firsts starts off with France Langford singing then with a chorus. Then Buddy and Vilma Ebsen dance. After that a chorus starts dancing and June Knight and this guy start dancing. Its great and then Eleanor Powell does this tap number at the very end its great!
If your a musical fan like me I think you will really enjoy this movie. Yeah maybe it is a forgettable movie but its great. When I watch this movie I get this old movie feeling that makes me happy. I wish they still made movies like this. I also think it proves that the movie stars back then were really good and star worthy compared to most stars today! Its a shame that Eleanor Powell is mostly forgotten today. She was really a great dancer. I really hope that this will become available on DVD in the near future!"
Very Cliche, But Lots of mid-1930s Musical Charm
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 04/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 is a classic of its kind. Bob Gordon (popular matinee idol Robert Taylor) is producing a Broadway musical--but he runs afoul of actress and financial backer Lilly Brent (June Knight), who sees herself not only as the star of the show but Bob's ladylove as well. When their "romance" is played up by gossip columnist Bert Keeler (Jack Benny) fireworks ensue, and matters are further complicated by the arrival of Bob's old flame Irene Foster (Eleanor Powell) who has come to make her fortune as a dancer on the Great White Way.The twists and turns of the story are fairly obvious and the outcome is a foregone conclusion--like many Hollywood musicals of the mid-1930s the story really exists as an excuse for comic turns and musical numbers--but the film has a great deal of charm and catches a host of performers moving up to stardom. The big news here is Eleanor Powell and Jack Benny, both fairly new to film and both somewhat stiff in front of the camera... but whatever their faults in this film there's no denying that Powell clearly poised to become a great musical star or that Benny is a comic genius in the making.Powell, Taylor, and Benny are backed by a truly solid host of character actors and cameo performers, most notably Sid Silvers, Una Merkle, Frances Langford, and Harry Stockwell. But most film buffs will be particularly interested in the brother-sister team of Buddy and Vilma Ebsen, a popular vaudeville act; Vilma would soon retire, but Buddy's scruffy look, dunderheaded comedy, and hilariously eccentric dance style would propel him to a series of popular musicals and a very long career indeed. The musical numbers--which include such perennials as "Broadway Melody," "You are My Lucky Star," and "Gotta Feeling You're Fooling"--are all lots of fun to hear and see as well. When all is said and done, BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 is hardly a "classic musical;" it is too disjointed, too cliche in plot and character to measure up to the truly great musicals of the era. But it is quite a bit of fun, and hardcore 1930s musical fans should enjoy it quite a bit.GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
Gary F. Taylor | 01/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hi, it's me again, the girl who wrote that kid's review on Jan. 22. I just wanted to comment on the best movie EVER again. Did you see the cover of the VHS? It's Robert Taylor and June Knight! I don't know why MGM/UA and TCM decied to put her and Taylor on the cover when Eleanor Powell was the star, but I'm glad they did, because Knight's my favorite actress, and Taylor and her look SO beautiful together! The cover art is very beautiful, and it is a great tribute to a VERY TALENTED and forgotten actress, June Knight. I think her performance in the B-Way Melody of 1936 earned her that cover spot. The print of this movie can be quite static and grainy at times, but the AH-MAZING performances of it come through. They'd come through if the whole thing was super fuzzy. Why? because it's the BEST MOVIE EVER, IT'S ELEGANT, IT'S WITTY, IT'S BEAUTIFUL, AND IT HAS THE BEST MUSICAL SCORE ANY MOVIE EVER HAD, AND YES, SINGIN' IN THE RAIN TOO! THIS MOVIE IS THE TOP OF THE TOP! Now, some people like Gone With the Wind, others like 42nd Street, and then some of them go ga-ga over the Philadelphia Story, but this is my personal favorite. I've watched it over 100 TIMES (SERIOUSLY!!!) and it's never lost it's sparkle and interestingness. I love watching it over and enjoying my favorite scenes. They should put it on DVD! So this is my very favorite movie, and maybe after you watch it, it might be yours."
THE ORIGINAL AND STILL THE BEST
Calicokid | San Francisco, CA USA | 01/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This first in the series is still my favorite (and the best) of the series. It has wit and style to spare. It also has Eleanor Powell's dazzling dancing and actually ACTING! Her imitation of a French Star is priceless. Robert Taylor is handsome and handles his musical chores very well. Roy Del Ruth's direction (with special effect) is inspired. An altogether enjoyable experience."