Musical Monday: Stars Over Broadway (1935)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Stars Over Broadway (1935) – Musical #700

stars on broadway3

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
William Keighley

Starring:
Pat O’Brien, James Melton, Jane Froman, Jean Muir, Frank McHugh, Eddie Conrad, William Ricciardi, Marie Wilson, Frank Fay, E.E. Clive
Himself: Jack Dempsey, the Morgan Family

Plot:
Theatrical agent Al McGillevray (O’Brien) is on the ropes and unsuccessful. He’s about to end it all until he hears the singing voice of porter Jan (Melton). Al is reinvigorated and wants to try to put over Jan King as a singer. Training his voice, he finds him a steady gig. But success goes to Jan’s head and starts to tumble.

Trivia:
• First feature film of James Melton.
• First of only two feature films starring Jane Froman.
• Like in the film, the Morgan Family was a singing family from Chillicothe, Ohio.
• Marie Wilson’s first credited film role.
• Based on the story “Thin Air” by Mildred Cram, published in Hearst’s International Cosmopolitan
• Working title was “Radio Jamboree”

stars over broadway

Highlights:
• Uncredited appearance by Jack Dempsey
• The Morgan Family performing on the radio
• Frank McHugh always trying to sell a song.

Notable Songs:
• “Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie” performed by James Melton
• “Celeste Aïda” performed by James Melton
• “You Let Me Down” performed by Jane Froman
• “Where Am I?” performed by James Melton
• “At Your Service, Madame” performed by James Melton and Jane Froman

stars over broadway2

stars over broadway3

My review:
In the 1930s, Warner Bros. studio churned out musicals with numbers staged by Busby Berkley and songs by Al Warren and Harry Dubin.
“Stars Over Broadway” (1935) has the same charm and vitality of the other Warner Bros. films of the era, but perhaps with lesser known musical stars.

Rather than crooner Dick Powell we have Met-trained operatic tenor James Melton. This was Melton’s first feature film in a brief film career. Singer Jane Froman also is in this film, though not as a lead. This was Froman’s first feature-film (though she was only in two movies). You may be more familiar with Froman from her biopic WITH A SONG IN MY HEART, starring Susan Hayward. Froman survived a plane crash and her latter career is perhaps better known than her early career.

While we have fledgingly stars in the cast, the film is carried in the capable hands of Pat O’Brien as Melton’s manager, and Frank McHugh, laughing and plugging songs. Underrated actress Jean Muir plays O’Brien’s love interest, and Marie Wilson appears in her first credited performance.

One highlight to me is the Morgan Family of Ohio, playing themselves in a radio talent contest. The Morgan Family had traveled to California, down on their luck, and director William Keighley offered the seven member family an appearance in the film. Their appearance is fun and the children singing are sweet.

Also, keep an ear out for “September in the Rain” playing in the background. Melton introduced the song in his next film though you hear it instrumentally here.

This film is overall extremely pleasant, but it rides a wave of comedy to dramatic to tragic, so be aware.

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