Broadway Melody of 1936
is a musical film
released by MGM
, despite the title. It was a follow up of
sorts to the successful The
, which had been released in 1929
, although, beyond the title and some
music, there is no story connection with the earlier film.
The film was written by Harry W.
, Jack McGowan
and Sid Silvers
. It was directed by Roy Del Ruth
and starred Jack Benny
, and Robert Taylor
It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best
In an interview promoting That's Entertainment!
available on the DVD release), dancer Ann
claimed that MGM was on the verge of bankruptcy at the
time Broadway Melody of 1936
was made, and it (along with
subsequent Powell films) became so popular the company became
dancer Irene Foster (Eleanor Powell) tries to convince promoter
Robert Gordon (Robert Taylor) that she should be given a chance to
star in a new Broadway
He was her old childhood sweetheart, but he is too
busy living it up with rich young widow Lillian Brent (June Knight
), who is backing his show. A love
triangle forms. Powell tries to show Taylor that she can dance and
survive on Broadway, but he will not hire her. Things become
complicated when she begins impersonating a famous French dancer,
not realizing the dancer is only a figment of the imagination of a
This was Powell's first leading role in a film, and her first movie
for MGM. She became a major MGM musical star as a result of this
picture, and would appear in the next two entries in the Broadway
Melody series: Broadway
Melody of 1938
and Broadway Melody of 1940
(Neither of these films were related to each other in terms of
storyline.) This also marked Ebsen's film debut.
The climax of the film is an extensive musical number at the end
built around the theme song "Broadway Rhythm". Beginning with
Frances Langford (appearing as herself) singing the first few
verses, the number moves on to a succession of dance routines,
including a manic routine featuring Ebsen and his sister, then a
tuneful, jazzy dance with June Knight, before climaxing with a
glimmering tuxedo-clad Eleanor Powell giving an athletic tap
performance surrounded by men in top hats and tails.
In the number "I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin", Robert Taylor
surprised the audience with his pleasant singing voice.