Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Broadway Babies (1929) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Alice White stars in BROADWAY BABIES (1929), an early sound musical just released by the Warner Archive.

White also stars in another new Archive release, PLAYING AROUND (1930), reviewed here last night. In BROADWAY BABIES she plays Dee, an aspiring musical star who lives with her friends (Sally Eilers and Marion Byron) in a boarding house. Dee loves Billy (Charles Delaney), a choreographer, but jealousy and the attentions of a wealthy mobster (Fred Kohler) have her contemplating ditching Billy for a new man.

The movie has some enjoyable elements, including said mobster turning the tables on some other baddies and turning out to be a pretty nice guy, but at 86 minutes it's a bit of a snooze fest at some points. I feel it would have worked much better if it had been edited down into a more peppy 70 minutes or so; I love short, energetic pre-Codes, but this isn't one of them.

White is a little more "real" than in PLAYING AROUND, being less of a dumb bunny here, but still, a little of Alice goes a long way. She's ideal in colorful supporting roles, such as in EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE (1933), but not so successful as a leading lady.

Additionally, she's just okay here as a song and dance gal; she executes high kicks well but her dancing is in that somewhat clunky style which was so common in films of this era, and she doesn't do a whole lot of it.

A bright spot is Marion Byron (billed as Miriam Byron here), who's particularly fun as one of Dee's friends. Byron also had a memorable scene as a switchboard operator in PLAYING AROUND. Byron, who retired from the screen in 1938, was married for many years to screenwriter Lou Breslow.

The supporting cast of BROADWAY BABIES includes Tom Dugan, Bodil Rosing, and Jocelyn Lee. As with PLAYING AROUND, BROADWAY BABIES was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and filmed by Sol Polito.

The Warner Archive print of this 1929 release is fairly soft, with occasional lines or other flaws, and I felt the sound was somewhat muffled at times. It's watchable enough but takes some straining to catch all the dialogue. (An interesting footnote: This is one of the films from the dawn of the sound era which was released in both sound and silent versions. For anyone who might wonder, only the sound version is included on this DVD.)

The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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