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Broadway Melody of 1940


Johnny Brett (Fred Astaire) and King Shaw (George Murphy) are a dance team so down on their luck they're working in a dance hall for no money.
Meanwhile, Clare Bennett (Eleanor Powell) is a big Broadway star. Owing to a case of mistaken identity, Shaw is offered the chance to be Clare's dancing partner in a new Broadway show, while it was really Johnny's dancing that producer Bob Casey (Frank Morgan) saw and wanted. The partnership breaks up, but Johnny sticks around to help out Shaw, who lets his newfound success go to his head. Clare eventually realizes that Johnny, and not Shaw, is the better dancer, and she falls in love after having lunch with him. When Shaw gets drunk on opening night, Johnny steps in and saves the show with a brilliant performance, though he lets King think he did it himself. Clare later tells Shaw the truth. Just before the next show, Clare discovers Shaw drunk and Johnny becomes the permanent replacement. After the show, they find out that King was pretending to be drunk so that Johnny would get the job.


Fred Astaire - Johnny Brett
Eleanor Powell - Clare Bennett
George Murphy - King Shaw
Frank Morgan - Bob Casey
Ian Hunter - Bert C. Matthews
Florence Rice - Amy Blake
Lynne Carver - Emmy Lou Lee
Ann Morriss - Pearl
Trixie Firschke - Juggler

Rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Carol Adams - Dancer (uncredited)
Barbara Jo Allen - Ms. Konk (uncredited)
Charlotte Arren - Singer (uncredited)
Irving Bacon - Soda Jerk (uncredited)
Bobby Barber - Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Herman Bing - Silhouettist (uncredited)
Gladys Blake - Ms. Martin (uncredited)
Mel Blanc - Panhandler (uncredited)
Johnny Broderick - Hanks (uncredited)
Don Brodie - Barker (uncredited)
Paul E. Burns - Waiter (uncredited)
Bobbie Canvin - Music Maids Member (uncredited)
George Chandler - Mr. Jones (uncredited)
Chick Collins - Sailor (uncredited)
James Conaty - Seated Nightclub Patron (uncredited)
Joseph Crehan - Ballroom Manager (uncredited)
Carmen D'Antonio - Auditioning Soprano (uncredited)
John Daheim - Barker (uncredited)
Jeanne Darrell - Music Maids Member (uncredited)
Hal K. Dawson - O'Grady (uncredited)
Edgar Dearing - Policeman (uncredited)
Sayre Dearing - Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Jean Del Val - Italian Waiter (uncredited)
Mary Field - 2nd Bride (uncredited)
James Flavin - Bouncer (uncredited)
Bess Flowers - Nightclub Dancer (uncredited)
Eddie Hall - Guest at 1st Wedding (uncredited)
Henry Hebert - Theatregoer (uncredited)
Shep Houghton - Specialty Dancer (uncredited)
Arthur Stuart Hull - Actor in Top Hat (uncredited)
Patt Hyatt - Music Maids Member (uncredited)
Harry Lash - Barker (uncredited)
Hal Le Sueur - Casey's Chauffeur (uncredited)
David Lloyd - Callboy (uncredited)
Alice Ludes - Music Maids Member (uncredited)
Alphonse Martell - French Dancer (uncredited)
Frank McClure - Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Douglas McPhail - Masked Singer (uncredited)
Bert Moorhouse - Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Jack Mulhall - George (uncredited)
John T. Murray - Ham Actor (uncredited)
The Music Maids - Singers - 'Begin the Beguine' (uncredited)
Tom Quinn - Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Suzanne Ridgeway - Nightclub Dancer / Chorine at Rehearsal (uncredited)
Cyril Ring - Show Backer at Rehearsal / Nightclub Headwaiter (uncredited)
Mel Ruick - Orchestra Leader (uncredited)
Gertrude Simpson - Stage Mother (uncredited)
Walter Soderling - Justice (uncredited)
Larry Steers - Theatregoer (uncredited)
William Tannen - Harmon (uncredited)
Libby Taylor - Angel (uncredited)
Russell Wade - Nightclub Dancer (uncredited)
E. Alyn Warren - Pop (uncredited)
Denny Wilson - Music Maids Member (uncredited)
Blair Woolstencroft - Unicyclist (uncredited)
Joe Yule - Dan (uncredited)


Broadway Melody of 1940 was based on a story by Jack McGowan and Dore Schary. Schary would go on to be head of production (1948) and then president (1951) of MGM until 1956. The film was originally planned to be shot in Technicolor, but because of the unsettled state of Europe due to World War II, MGM decided to stick to black and white.

The film was the fourth and final entry in MGM's loosely-connected Broadway Melody series, which began with the original The Broadway Melody released in 1929, and was followed by Broadway Melody of 1936 and Broadway Melody of 1938. The films were unconnected except for the use of the song "Broadway Melody" (the 1940 entry did not feature the number, although a bit of it can be heard over the film's opening credits), and the fact that Powell starred in the 1936, 1938 and 1940 entries, playing different roles in each. A fifth Broadway Melody film was planned for release in the early 1940s, pairing Eleanor Powell with Gene Kelly, but production was canceled at the rehearsal stage. Another production was to have been called Broadway Melody of 1944 but was instead renamed Broadway Rhythm. The 1940 entry is considered Powell's last major successful film, as she would go on to appear in a succession of only moderate hits before retiring from the screen several years later. It has the distinction of being the first non-documentary film featuring Powell to be released on DVD.

Fred Astaire had just left RKO, and Broadway Melody of 1940 was his first film for MGM since his small part in 1933's Dancing Lady. Astaire was reportedly slightly intimidated by Powell, as she was considered one of the few female dancers capable of out-performing Astaire. According to Powell in her introduction to the book, The MGM Story, the feeling was somewhat mutual. Powell recalled finally saying to Astaire, "Look, we can't go on like this. I'm Ellie; you're Fred. We're just two hoofers," after which, they got along well, and rehearsed so much they wore out their pianist.

Broadway Melody of 1940 was in production from early September until late November 1939. The set for the "Begin the Beguine" number cost $120,000 to construct. It utilized a sixty foot multi-paneled mirror mounted on a revolving track to change backgrounds.

The film is alluded to in satirist Tom Lehrer's song "George Murphy", about the dancer becoming a United States Senator: Think of all the musicals we have in store, Imagine: Broadway Melody of Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Release Date: 9 February 1940 (USA)
Filming Locations: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios - 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California, USA

run time: 102 minutes

above notes from Melody of 1940_(film)
poster image: same
movie: DAV FL 70 Webmaster private collection

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