13 user 2 critic

Broadway Serenade (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Music, Romance | 7 April 1939 (USA)
Mary Hale (a singer) and Jimmy Seymour (pianist/composer), are a show biz couple working in The Big Apple in small night clubs hoping to hit it big. One night, Larry Bryant (a Broadway ... See full summary »


Robert Z. Leonard


Charles Lederer (screen play), Lew Lipton (from original story by) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeanette MacDonald ... Mary Hale
Lew Ayres ... James Geoffrey Seymour
Ian Hunter ... Larry Bryant
Frank Morgan ... Cornelius Collier, Jr.
Wally Vernon ... Joey - the Jinx
Rita Johnson ... Judith Tyrrell
Virginia Grey ... Pearl
William Gargan ... Bill
Katharine Alexander ... Harriet Ingalls
Al Shean ... Herman
Esther Dale ... Mrs. Olsen
Franklin Pangborn ... Gene
E. Alyn Warren ... Everett (as E. Allyn Warren)
Paul Hurst ... Reynolds
Frank Orth ... Mr. Fellows


Mary Hale (a singer) and Jimmy Seymour (pianist/composer), are a show biz couple working in The Big Apple in small night clubs hoping to hit it big. One night, Larry Bryant (a Broadway producer) spots Mary and is taken with her beauty and golden voice. Larry Bryant asks her to audition for Mr. Collier and have Jimmy accompany her. After hearing Mary, Collier wants Mary to be in his show. Jimmy encourages a reluctant Mary to go on the road without him. Soon Mary's talent is noticed and her role in the show increases, while Harriet Ingalls the show's original star is pushed out. Ingalls quits promising to seek revenge. After 5 weeks on the road, Mary returns home. Mary is now a big star, while Jimmy's career has gone nowhere, and he feels threatened by Mary's success. Jimmy while waiting for Mary to dress, starts to read a Broadway magazine. Seeing pictures of Mary with Larry, he pours himself a drink and another till he's drunk. Larry stops by, and Ingalls suddenly appears and accuses ... Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Stumbled On A Career and Broke Her Heart. See more »


Drama | Music | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


One of the scenes depicts Mary singing "Musetta's Waltz" from Act II of Puccini's opera "La Bohème." In a later scene, Jimmy is living in a garret, and out of frustration he tries to burn his scores in the garret's stove, while Herman burns his hands retrieving them. The first and fourth acts of Puccini's opera takes place in a Parisian garret shared by four struggling artists. One of them is a poet who's working on a play. Since there's no firewood, he burns his manuscript. See more »


James: Lambchop, do you remember that wonderful, romantic honeymoon we never had?
Mary: I remember it as though it were tomorrow.
See more »


Featured in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Big Parade of Hits for 1940 (1940) See more »


Musical Contract
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Herbert Stothart and Edward Ward
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Played and sung by Lew Ayres and Al Shean on piano
See more »

User Reviews

Busby Berkeley bombs
13 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Jeanette MacDonald filmed Broadway Serenade while her usual screen partner Nelson Eddy was busy doing Balalaika with Ilona Massey. She's married to Lew Ayres, musician and would be composer. They're a duo working in some real dives when we first meet them. Ayres has a short fuse involving his wife and manages to get himself fired after punching out a drunk. MacDonald dutifully follows her man.

After that it's the usual backstage story for both of them. She becomes a big Broadway star and he has dreams of presenting his concerto, a treatment of Tschaikovsky's famous None, But the Lonely Heart. And they run into the usual situations involving her beauty and his temper.

Jeanette sings beautifully and Ayres steps out from his Dr. Kildare image. At the time Broadway Serenade was being filmed, just as Jeanette was taking a break from Nelson, Ayres was on hiatus from the Dr. Kildare series which was at the height of its popularity.

Also in the cast is Frank Morgan as a Broadway producer, the same role he had in Sweethearts and Ian Hunter as the playboy backer of Morgan's shows who's got a yen for Jen. But the best supporting part in Broadway Serenade is Al Shean who is sidekick and confident to Lew Ayres. This may have been Al Shean's best screen role.

But what this film is probably best known for is the climax sequence involving Lew Ayres's concerto. Busby Berkeley did the number and it goes down as one of his worst.

Berkeley who did so well at Warner Brothers with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler and later on at MGM with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, makes a ghastly debut at MGM. His None But the Lonely Heart dance number is like the number that Jack Buchanan did in The Bandwagon. Only that was supposed to be satiric, this one was for real.

If Ayres's concerto had been presented simply as just an instrumental piece it would have been sooooooo much better. It was one bad creative decision to give Busby Berkeley an assignment here.

Other than that, Jeanette's fans will go for this. She has some fine numbers to sing her in both the classical and popular vein.

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Release Date:

7 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Emporte mon coeur See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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