An odd early musical talkie, billed as the "first million dollar talkie," is an odd mix of the musical and gangster genres. Goes behind the scenes of a Broadway theatre troop that gets entangled in organized crime. Most notable for its Technicolor finale, the film is otherwise rather stilted, a stiff and strange example of a medium that wasn't quite used to sound.
The sound sections of this film are textbook examples of early sound film-making, laughably dated in many spots. The big sets and occasional flights of remarkable camera work aren't enough to salvage it. We'll see how Criterion handles it.
Art deco sets are intriguing, and Fejos' "Broadway crane" is on full display in some inspired moments, but the "first million dollar talkie" falls very flat. The acting is atrocious, Brent seems completely bored, resulting in the most rigid talkie Ive seen. However, does foreshadow the Busby Berkeley backstage gems that would come just a few years later. Fejos left Hollywood soon after, can't say I blame him. 3 stars