Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review - Broadway Hostess (1935)

Broadway Hostess (1935)

Starring: Lyle Talbot, Wini Shaw, Genevieve Tobin, and Allen Jenkins
Director: Frank McDonald
Studio: Warner Bros./Vitaphone/First National
Release Date: December 1935
"All women are the same, especially where men are concerned." 
Broadway Hostess can be categorically summed up as a bad idea. As a film, I wouldn't be surprised if it were made up as it went along.

Lyle Talbot plays a small time talent man named Lucky who stumbles upon Winnie (Shaw) one day auditioning for a nightclub part. She's fresh off the bus and has the knack, so the two ride each other's coattails to success. The problem is that Winnie loves Lucky, but he's too preoccupied with success to even notice.

Part of that success involves him falling in love with Iris (Tobin), the daughter of a wealthy tycoon. She has a bum brother named Ronnie (Donald Moss) who drinks, gambles, and hates those damnable lower class people something fierce.

Iris could probably be considered a bit of a snob herself, because she turns down lucky when he proposes marriage. (Notably after she somehow gives him a black eye in a game of badminton.) However, considering she tells him that it's often like they don't speak the same language and he doesn't understand that, it's safe to say her fears are probably founded.

Lucky grows incensed and vengeful. OH, HE'LL MARRY HER ALRIGHT. So he opens a gambling parlor and tricks her brother into losing tens of thousands of dollars to him. (This is never explicitly stated, but considering we see Lucky's best pal, Fishcake (Jenkins), fooling around with loaded dice, it isn't a stretch.) Through a serious of improbable events, an improbable conclusion occurs where Iris and Lucky do end up marrying. The implication is that Iris marries him out of either guilt or to save her brother from being arrested, but, again, this isn't addressed and the marriage is instantly blissful.

Winnie, meanwhile, lost all of her money trying to help Lucky out from a short jail sentence. To help her make it back, Lucky puts on a Broadway show and casts her. Ronnie, cut off from his money, shoots Lucky during intermission of the play's opening night. He's rushed to the hospital, but the show must go on-- apparently. Winnie is too distraught to continue, much to the audience's surprise-- Why would this woman become upset after someone was shot?

For being called Broadway Hostess, not much of its runtime is devoted to Winnie's story. Shaw, whose biggest success came the same year singing "The Lullaby of Broadway" in The Gold Diggers of 1935, seems to be front and center to cash in. She gets a few numbers to sing throughout, and while some of the choreography is inventive, they're definitely cheap compared to Busby Berkeley's output. Surprisingly, this film is actually Oscar nominated for one of Shaw's songs, which I guess means there must not have been a lot of competition for that year.

Compared to Tobin's other films of 1935-- actually compared to most other films in general, Broadway Hostess is step down.


Movie Classic said, "it lacks vitality."

Not that this movie was unappreciated by everyone not entranced by Winnie Shaw, but here's a pull quote found in Film Bulletin:

Screenshot Gallery


This film is currently unavailable, but shows occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.

"And this is..." "Fishcake Carter!" "... yes."

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