Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, a vaudeville act, come to Broadway, where their friend Eddie Kerns needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield's shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet,... See full summary »
Sally was an orphan who got her name from the telephone exchange where she was abandoned as a baby. In the orphanage, she discovered the joy of dancing and has been practicing since. ... See full summary »
John Francis Dillon
Joe E. Brown
A five-person team of gold prospectors in the Yukon has just begun to enjoy great success when one of the members snaps, and suddenly kills two of the others. The two survivors, a husband ... See full summary »
Ming Toy is on the auction block in China. She is saved by Billy and taken to San Francisco by Lo Sang Kee. To save her from deportation she is sold to Charlie Yong, the Chop Suey King. Billy kidnaps her with plans of marriage.
George Raft, playing himself, recalls his days on Broadway, where he acquired a reputation as a great dancer--and also one as a brawler, a ladies man and an associate of some of the city's most notorious gangsters.
The story behind it is more interesting than the film
This musical was directed by Paul Fejos at Universal Studios in 1929. There were so many musical films made in 1929 with the title "Broadway" in them, thus you might ask - why is this one unique? For one its director was a Hungarian bacteriologist by trade who dabbled in film and is famous in particular for two late 20's films - 1928's "Lonesome" and this film, "Broadway". Fejos made a crane the actual star of the picture. It was a custom built contraption that allowed the camera to sweep about the nightclub in which most of the movie was set. Most early sound films were very static by necessity, and Fejos wanted his musical to have some of the fluid motion of the late silent era restored. However, during these sweeping scenes, Fejos had to use silent film and then dub over it with recorded sound. This gives these parts of the film a surreal and disembodied quality.
The film is like "Faust" meets "Lights of New York" in that the film opens with a metallic-painted giant stalking about Broadway at night, filling his glass with ale, and gesturing for the residents of Broadway to join him in his debauchery. The film then moves to a nightclub where the story is largely unremarkable. It's basically just another gangster film set in a nightclub punctuated with two-strip Technicolor musical numbers. "Hitting the Ceiling" is the best and most remembered of these moments. My main complaint about this film is that Evelyn Brent looks so bored during most of it. She could and did turn in good performances in the early talkie era, so I'm not sure why with all of the intrigue that is lurking about the Paradise Club her reaction seems to be that it's just in a day's work.
The film was shot both silent and in sound, and has never been on VHS or DVD. The silent version I saw had Technicolor, and the sound version I saw was in black and white. I don't think that a talking version with color still exists. Some people have attempted to dub the speech of the talkie version into the silent version to get the maximum effect of the music and the color, but what I've seen hasn't worked too well. The film's director, Paul Fejos, decided to leave the film industry shortly after "Broadway" was complete due to his dislike of the people running Universal. Instead he embarked on a career in anthropology, where he became a leader in his field. An unusual end to the film career of a man who made very unusual films.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?