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.
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Les Adams <email@example.com>
Interesting and enjoyable, but with scope for improvement.
"Broadway" is a little-known semi-musical that grips the audience despite being handicapped with two pointless gimmicks. The first gimmick is that George Raft plays himself, and the movie supposedly recounts an episode early in his career. The second gimmick is that the story is told in flashback. Neither gimmick helps the film at all, and "Broadway" would have been better without them.
Once the flashback starts, the story unfolds quickly and blends a gangster story with a back-stage musical drama. Many films have tried this mixture. A few, like "Party Girl" succeed but most, like "The Cotton Club" fail. "Broadway" succeeds, and does not glamorise life back-stage. It shows the tackiness of show business in a small club which is small and shabby. No new songs were written for the film and familiar old songs like "Dinah" and "I'm Just Wild About Harry" are performed.
Apart from the gimmicks, the film has two other problems. Many of the characters are clichés, both as written and as acted. For example both S. J. Sakall and Pat O'Brien give the same performance they gave in several other movies, and S. J Sakall, in particular, is completely wrong for this movie. By contrast, Broderick Crawford gives an interesting performance as the main gangster and avoids cliché acting. The second weakness is that the screenplay does not bring out clearly what motivates the characters. For example, the Janet Blair character is attracted to the gangster and closes her eyes to what he really is. At a celebration party she is propositioned by an unwelcome admirer and the gangster intervenes. The man backs down and there is no violence. Nevertheless, the girl now sees the gangster for what he is and is no longer attracted to him. This would have made more sense if there had been a fight in which the gangster displayed sadism and brutality.
Although George Raft and Janet Blair were reasonable dancers, they were nothing special and "Broadway" succeeds more as a melodrama than as a musical. (If Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth had been cast, and more prominence given to the dancing, "Broadway" might have been a great musical.)
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