1928/29 Best Picture:
The Competition: Alibi,
The Hollywood Revue of 1929, In Old Arizona, The Patriot
Best Actor: Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona
Best Actress: Mary
Frank Lloyd, The Divine Lady
Charles King, Anita
Page, Bessie Love
sisters embark on a Broadway career, but things get tough when they are
confronted by competitive dancers, backstage johnnies and a man who they
are both in love with.
Did it deserve to
I'm assuming so!
Quite honestly, very few movies from this year are available. One
nominee, The Patriot, doesn't even exist anymore. Another,
Hollywood Revue of 1929, was an excuse for MGM to put its stable of stars
upfront to celebrate the introduction of talkies, so you could just
imagine what that one is like.
Melody may not hold up today, productions values, and even the acting, are
just too amateurish, but I have a feeling it was quite something in its
day. Talking pictures were only a year old, and film makers were
still learning the craft. In this film, notice that actors seem
stiff, most likely because the overhead microphone limited their movement.
On the other hand,
this film spawned several follow ups throughout the 1930's, and I do
recall being told that my great grandmother was a big fan of Bessie Love.
In its day, this film, the first significant musical ever, must have been
quite a show.
offers a backstage glimpse at the 'great white way', and while it seems
rather cliché and sugar coated today, if not, flat and lifeless, I am
quite sure it was the All About Eve, or The Player, of its day.
Scene: Voh-de-oh-doh! The girls
audition for a spot on the show. Their singing is so terrible, but I
can't tell if it's on purpose, or if the sound is really that bad.
"Are you trying to crab our act?" Bessie Love screeches at the
Behind the Scenes: The
second Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Coconut Grove of the
Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. They were broadcast live on a local radio
station, and for the first and only time in Oscar history, no film won
more than one award.
seemed as though many of the founding members of the Academy were being
honored that year. Cedric Gibbons, the man credited with designing
the award, won the award for Interior Decoration for Bridge of San Luis
only female founding member, Mary Pickford won the Best Actress Oscar that year, over others, including
Bessie Love. Pickford's film, Coquette, marked her introduction to
talking pictures, and while it was a hit, it wasn't a great
performance. Scott Eyman, Mary's biographer, quipped that
"Mary's Oscar for her inferior work for Coquette surely qualifies as
the first Lifetime Achievement award to be handed out by the
Academy." Whatever the case, Pickford's win did raise eyebrows,
and the awards committee was pressured into making changes to the voting
In her day, Anita Page
received 10,000 pieces of fan mail a week, second only to Greta Garbo.
Her biggest admirer sent over 100 letters, once even asking for her hand
in marriage. The suitor - Benito Mussolini!
continued to work right into the 1980's, appearing such films as Reds,
Ragtime and The Hunger.
Two of the films
numbers, You Were Meant for Me, and The Wedding of the Painted Doll, were
honored in the classic 1952 musical, Singing in the Rain.
talking picture to win the Best Picture Oscar, and the first musical!
King does his rendition of the song, Broadway Melody.
Love as Hank, and sister Anita Page, as Queenie, arrive in New York to
make it big!
and Page swear their undying devotion for starry-eyed Hank.
Celluloid Closet used this clip to highlight the Sissy, a typical gay
stock character, seen in Hollywood films of the day.
girls kick up their heels with Charles King.
dress rehearsal looks good, but Hank is about to be cut from the act!
finds herself being courted by many a 'backstage Johnny'!
Love as Hank, tries to keep a stiff upper lip when she sees that her
sister is getting all the attention.
Herbert Hoover wins a landslide victory, taking on a second term in
28, 1928: D.H.
Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover is banned in the United States for its
sexual frankness, and its coarse language.
Leon Trotsky is exiled from Russia by Joseph Stalin.
Chicago's streets are bloodied by a mob shoot out, that would later be
called the Valentine's Day Massacre.
Labs demonstrate their latest invention - a color television.
Is there a movie producer who wants
a gold mine? Simply let him advertise that his theatre gives only
the silent drama. No talkies! I am speaking not only for myself,
but for a large circle of friends, all of whom have nothing but disgust
for 'barbaric yawps!"
Letter to the Editor, New York
Times, May 5, 1929