Broadway Melody of 1938
Cast & Crew
Roy Del Ruth
Millionaire Herman Whipple backs a new show to be produced and scored by Steve Raleigh when his wife Caroline is impressed by the handsome songwriter. Meanwhile, out-of-work dancers Sonny Ledford and Peter Trot get work in Baltimore training Mrs. Whipple's race horse,"Stargazer." After the horse loses a race because of an injured tendon, Mrs. Whipple decides to sell it. On the train back to New York, she is not happy to find Sally Lee, who had reared Stargazer, in the same car with the horse and his trainers and is more unhappy that Steve seems to be infaturated with Sally. Steve sees Sally dancing and asks Sonny, who is in love with her, to bring her to an audition for his new show, and despite everyone's opposition, he insists on making her the star. Because he, too, is now in love with Sally, he gives Whipple a promisory note for his own half of the show in exchange for a loan of $1200 to secretley help Sally buy Stargazer from the Whipples. Mrs. Whipple becomes jealous, however, and convinces her husband not to back the show if Sally is the star. Although Sally leaves the show, hoping to help Steve, he won't go through with it unless he can find financing for her to play the lead. When Sonny tells Sally that Steve was the person who really gave her the money to buy Stargazer, she is determined to use their $25,000 winnings from a big race to back the show. At first Stargazer shows no inclination to run after the starting gate, but when he hears co-owner Nicki Papaloopas singing "Figaro," his favorite song, over the load speaker, he gallops to first place. With enough money behind it, the show is a huge success and Sally and Steve look as if they will be more than business partners.
Roy Del Ruth
Charles Igor Gorin
The Crinoline Choir
J. D. Jewkes
Nacio Herb Brown
James V. Monaco
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Lorenzo Da Ponte
Irving G. Thalberg
Edwin B. Willis
Broadway Melody of 1938
MGM had won an Oscar® with its first talkie backstage musical, The Broadway Melody (1929). They had another hit with Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935), which was tap dancer Eleanor Powell's first MGM film, and featured matinee-idol co-star Robert Taylor and a tuneful score by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. In 1937, they reunited the winning team to try to repeat that success.
In 1935, the studio had signed a 13-year old singer with a remarkably mature voice. They put Judy Garland into a short film called Every Sunday (1936) with another teenage singer, Deanna Durbin. But even though the studio dumped Durbin and kept Garland, they didn't do anything with her. Instead, they loaned her out to 20th Century Fox for a small role in the college musical, Pigskin Parade (1936). Then, in February of 1937, MGM threw a birthday party for the King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. Garland was to sing at the event, and her mentor, composer and arranger Roger Edens, discouraged her from singing an Ethel Merman torch song. Instead, Edens selected "You Made Me Love You," with a prologue he'd written for Garland to sing to a picture of Gable. It was called "Dear Mr. Gable," and in it Garland confesses her love for the screen idol as she writes him a fan letter. The number was a sensation, and plans were made to add Garland to the cast of Broadway Melody of 1938. She would play the daughter of veteran vaudevillian Sophie Tucker, who runs the theatrical boarding house where Powell lives.
Critics had a few kind words for Powell's dancing, but found Broadway Melody of 1938 a pale imitation of its predecessors. Although the cast included hoofers George Murphy and Buddy Ebsen, and comedians Robert Benchley and Billy Gilbert, the reviews virtually ignored most of the other stars, and raved about Garland and (to a lesser degree) Tucker. Variety said that the two, "with much less to do than the others, stand out like traffic lights....Judy sings a plaint to Clark Gable's photograph which is as close to great screen acting as pictures have furnished." The Hollywood Reporter agreed. "The sensational work of young Judy Garland causes wonder as to why she has been kept under wraps these many months." She wouldn't be under wraps for long. Within a year, Garland had appeared in four more films, and was about to be cast in The Wizard of Oz (1939). Over the years, Garland would sing "Dear Mr. Gable" many more times, and always delighted in telling the story (which may or may not be true) that an embarrassed Gable finally begged her to stop singing it.
Director: Roy Del Ruth
Producer: Jack Cummings
Screenplay: Jack McGowan, based on a story by Jack McGowan and Sid Silvers
Cinematography: William Daniels
Editor: Blanche Sewell
Music Director: Georgie Stoll; songs by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
Principal Cast: Robert Taylor (Steve Raleigh), Eleanor Powell (Sally Lee), George Murphy (Sonny Ledford), Binnie Barnes (Caroline Whipple), Buddy Ebsen (Peter Trot), Sophie Tucker (Alice Clayton), Judy Garland (Betty Clayton).
BW-111m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
Broadway Melody of 1938
Is he deaf?- Alice Clayton
Well, he was the last time when I asked him for a raise.- Jerry Jason
For the number "Your Broadway and Mine", the set is decorated with the names of Broadway stars from the 1910s and 1920s. When Alice (played by Sophie Tucker) starts talking about former times, Tucker's name can be seen at least twice in the background.
The song "Dear Mr. Gable" was a birthday present for Clark Gable's 36th birthday. Composer and arranger Roger Edens adapted the old song "You Made Me Love You" by James V. Monaco. It was sung at Gable's birthday party by a young 'Garland, Judy' . Producer Louis B. Mayer was so impressed by it, that he gave order to let Garland sing it again in the next great musical MGM was going to produce.
An early working title for the film was Broadway Melody of 1937. Some reviews list a preview running time of 115 minutes. According to an Hollywood Reporter news item, photographer Ray June replaced William Daniels in mid-April 1937 while Daniels was recuperating from an operation. Other news items note that actress Binnie Barnes was borrowed from Universal for the production. The song "You Made Me Love You," originally written in 1913 by Joe McCarthy and James V. Monaco and preambled in the film by additional lyrics by Roger Edens entitled "Dear Mr. Gable," was praised for excellence by most reviews and has frequently been cited in modern sources as Judy Garland's first great success in motion pictures. Modern sources note that the film was first sung by Garland at a party given by M-G-M in honor of Clark Gable's birthday. In an ad in Hollywood Reporter for the film, Jack Robbins of the M-G-M music publishing company thanks Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown for their work on the film. In another part of the same ad, Brown and Freed thank Sam Katz "for your guidance and co-operation." The exact contribution of Katz to the film has not been determined. This was the third of M-G-M's "Broadway Melody" pictures. For additional information on the films, consult the entries for Broadway Melody of 1936 and Broadway Melody of 1940.