Broadway

Broadway ★★★★

BROADWAY (1929) directed by Paul Fejos is a very curious, but entertaining mish-mash. The play itself seems tailor-made to be put on the screen by Warner Brothers: bootleggers, gangsters, and chorus girls playing out a seamy, violent, noirish script in a scummy, little nightclub. Not a musical about obstacles to putting on the big show, but a crime pic with *some* music thrown in for atmosphere. But this isn't WB, it's Universal wanting to thump their tiny dick on the table, with their darling, new director Fejos being given carte blanche, Welles-style.

So. We have the seamy gangster drama in the scummy nightclub played out in the hugest, most splendiferous nightclub that ever existed. Not only do we have the Fejos-designed "Broadway crane" that propelled the camera and 100s of pounds of personnel about, but Universal's specially built (perhaps still) largest soundstage to accommodate it. Before I saw this flick, I wanted to go to THE GANG'S ALL HERE's nightclub when I die, but no more.

I'm too lazy to do research, but I have to wonder if the "Broadway crane" was used to pull off Universal's TOUCH OF EVIL.

The WB seamy gangster drama still plays out quite well, even though everyone complains about wanting to make the big time, when they're clearly already there. My new fave Glenn Tryon takes the role of the emcee/choreographer away from Lee Tracy's actual Broadway incarnation; fine by me, Glenn is cute as a button, and Tracy is an irritant. I adored the creepy "Makin' Whoopee" number, incomprehensibly staged with Tryon belting out the tune in front of an army of chorines dressed in a little boy outfit like a young George Minaver: black shorts, long blond curls, and a lollypop. Evelyn Brent shines as the surly dame wanting vengeance for the gunning down of her bootlegger BF, as does Robert Ellis as the cowardly worm who done the deed. 8/10