A tunesmith, a user and an out-and-out heel, puts the stories of his broken romances into song, turning old love letters into lyrics, and capitalizing on the death of his best friend to ... See full summary »
A tunesmith, a user and an out-and-out heel, puts the stories of his broken romances into song, turning old love letters into lyrics, and capitalizing on the death of his best friend to turn it into the subject of a tear-jerker that turns into a hit. Written by
In late 1928, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that it had bought Nell Martin's novel "Lord Byron of Broadway" and would be turning it into a musical with William Haines and Bessie Love. However, it went downscale when actually casting the central roles, and the lack of star power and the so unappealing story added up to a flop at the box office. Critics commented about its lackluster casting, and "Lord Byron Of Broadway" quickly sank at the box office. See more »
I've seen this film twice and I think it's really one of the most underrated early musicals. Yes, it has its flaws: there's some typical early-talkie clunkiness in the direction, and Charles Kaley as the leading man is good-looking and a competent actor but hardly the irresistibly charismatic woman-magnet and energetic go-getter the script tells us Roy Erskine is. (Imagine this script as an early-1930's Warners product with James Cagney in the lead and you've got a good idea of what this story could have been.) But the story has real bite and pathos, its picture of the music business as exploitative and cutthroat rings as true now as it did then, and next to Rouben Mamoulian's masterpiece "Applause" this is probably the darkest backstage musical ever made. Even the ending, which in other hands could have been unbearably sentimental and sappy, is handled with the same realistic toughness as the rest of the film. Worthy of note is the appearance of a Columbia record label on screen (the label Charles Kaley actually recorded for; I have a 78 of him singing "Hello, Bluebird," a song Judy Garland revived in her last film, "I Could Go On Singing") instead of a made-up record company, and the two beautifully preserved two-strip Technicolor dance numbers (including an Albertina Rasch ballet that features Busby Berkeley-style overhead shots a year before Berkeley himself ever made a film) that show off what a gorgeous process two-strip Technicolor really was, with a harmonious, painterly color scheme that often is more pleasing than the often overripe colors of the early three-strip process which replaced it.
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