1/20/17

"BROADWAY": A TIMES SQUARE NIGHTMARE



Here are the first four minutes of the 1929 movie "Broadway," directed by Paul Fejos and based on one of the biggest stage hits of the 1920's which was called--er--"Broadway." The opening credits are among the most disturbing I've ever seen, with elaborate miniatures of Times Square, mad dolly moves and finally what appears to be a giant, gold-sprayed, demonic bartender walking through the set. Assuming you haven't run from the room screaming, we're next treated to the interior of the Club Paradise where the entire action of the play takes place. Once again nightmarishly garish and surreal sets are explored in nauseatingly elaborate dolly moves, finally settling down to a strange little scene where a male choreographer rehearses a few chorines in a dance that he performs quite well and they can't perform at all.

"Broadway" was shot in both a silent and sound version as was frequently the case in the early days of talkies (this was because many theaters had yet to convert to sound). Scenes were actually filmed twice, one for each version,  because the acting styles differed--talkies slowed scenes down while silent scenes depended on a more pantomimic acting style. Actually, I don't know that for a fact. I just made it up. But it does sound authoritatively informative, doesn't it? The reason for the Hungarian titles is that this is a Hungarian print of the movie, the only known existing print of the full silent version. Apparently a full sound version exists in a vault in the Smithsonian. Or perhaps Universal Studios. This contradictory information has been gleaned from the comments section below the video. Basing anything scholarly on information that comes from Youtube posters is a little like basing information on anything political on the words of Donald Trump. At least "Broadway" is silent...

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