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Among the Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown score for Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) are four songs that would be repeated in Singin' in the Rain (1951): "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'," "Broadway Rhythm" and "You Are My Lucky Star."
The second of four Broadway Melody musicals, Broadway Melody of 1936 is considered by many the best in the MGM series, thanks largely to a sparkling performance from tap dancer Eleanor Powell in her first major role in a big-budget movie. Powell, soon to be touted by the studio as the "Broadway Melody Girl," would also star in the 1938 and 1940 editions of the series. In Broadway Melody of 1936 Jack Benny also shines in an atypical role as a Walter Winchell-type columnist involved in a feud with Broadway producer Robert Taylor. Powell is Taylor's childhood sweetheart, who gets into his latest show by masquerading as a celebrated French stage star called Mlle. Arlette.
Taylor (using his own voice, for better or worse) and June Knight duet on "I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin'," with Nick Long Jr. taking over as Knight's dancing partner. "Broadway Rhythm," the first of the elaborate production numbers that would become Powell's signature, also includes Buddy Ebsen, then half of a brother-and-sister song-and-dance team, Buddy and Vilma Ebsen, plus singer Frances Langford and other performers.
"You Are My Lucky Star" is conceived as a dream ballet, giving Powell a rare film opportunty to show off her early training in ballet. The number begins with Powell (dubbed by Marjorie Lane) singing the song in an empty theater and imagining herself the star of a production that also features the Albertina Rasch Ballet. The ballerinas reportedly were forced to remain on point for such long periods during filming that blood was seeping through their slippers. Between takes they took off their shoes and put on ice on their feet -- although Powell refused to do this because she feared she wouldn't be able to force her swollen feet back into their slippers. According to Powell biographer Margie Schultz, the dancer lost four toenails on her right foot during the filming.
Broadway Melody of 1936 won an Oscar for Dave Gould's dance direction and was nominated as Best Picture and for the original story by Moss Hart.
Producer: John W. Considine Jr.
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Screenplay: Moss Hart (story), Jack McGowan, Sid Silvers, Harry W. Cohn (additional dialogue)
Cinematography: Charles Rosher
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Editing: Blanche Sewell
Original Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed
Costume Design: Adrian
Musical Director: Alfred Newman
Choreographer: Dave Gould
Principal Cast: Jack Benny (Bert Keeler), Eleanor Powell (Irene Foster/Mlle.Arlette), Robert Taylor (Bob Gordon), Una Merkel (Kitty Corbett), Frances Langford (Singer), Sid Silvers (Snoop Blue), Buddy Ebsen (Buddy Burke), Vilma Ebsen (Sally Burke), June Knight (Lillian Brent), Nick Long Jr. (Basil Newcombe).
BW-102m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe