Musical Monday: Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

lord-byron2This week’s musical:
Lord Byron of Broadway (1930)– Musical #558

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Harry Beaumont, William Nigh

Charles Kaley, Marion Shilling, Cliff Edwards, Gwen Lee, Ethelind Terry, Rubin, Jack Benny (uncredited voice on radio), Ann Dvorak (uncredited), Mary Doran (uncredited)

Roy (Kaley) is a jerk of a songwriter who uses his old romances and love letters as inspiration for his songs. He even attempts to capitalize off his friend’s death through a song.

-Filmed in black-and-white with a few 2-strip Technicolor musical numbers
-Originally was set to star Bessie Love and William Haines
-Based on Nell Martin’s 1928 novel, “Lord Byron of Broadway: A Novel”
-Also titled What Price Melody?

-2-strip Technicolor sequences

2-strip Technicolor musical number

2-strip Technicolor musical number

Notable Songs:
-“A Bundle of Love Letters” performed by Charles Kaley, Marion Shilling, Cliff Edwards
-“Blue Daughter of Heaven” performed by Ethelind Terry
-“The Woman in the Shoe” performed by Ethelind Terry
-“You’re the Bride and I’m the Groom” performed by Charles Kaley

Gwen Lee and Charles Kaley in "Lord Byron of Broadway"

Gwen Lee and Charles Kaley in “Lord Byron of Broadway”

My review:
In the early days of sound, film makers were fumbling and grouping along in the dark to figure out how to successfully make a musical. Before director Busby Berkeley came along and “saved the movie musical,” the musicals were a failing mess.

“Lord Byron of Broadway” (1930) is a a good example of one of these messes. This felt like the longest 80 minute movie I have ever watched. It was a tedious story line and only the songs were only alright. But I think what made the film the most tedious is that I couldn’t connect with the unknown actors in the film. The lead actors came from the stage and were not well-known at the time, according to the book A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film by Richard Barrios.

“Lord Byron” was a flop in 1930 and it isn’t any better today. The only actor I was familiar with was Cliff Edwards, who later went on to be a voice actor for Disney Studios, and even his character couldn’t save this film. The only stand-out thing about this film that stood out were the Technicolor musical numbers, but the songs and dances weren’t all-together interesting.

The lead character is unsympathetic and I didn’t really care about the leading lady’s character either. I was just ready for this early musical to end.

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