BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938

STUDIO:  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

PRODUCTION NUMBER:  1233

PRODUCTION DATES: March – July 1937

PRODUCTION COST:   $802,980.68

RUNNING TIME:  111 minutes

RELEASE DATE:  August 20, 1937

INITIAL BOX OFFICE:  $2,846,000

Judy Garland as photographed by Clarence BullJudy Garland had been at MGM for a year and a half before finally making her first feature for the studio.  She had auditioned and was signed by the studio in September 1935, and while she had immediate and continued success with audiences through her many radio appearances, MGM just couldn’t figure out how to feature her.  That didn’t stop them from loaning her out to 20th Century-Fox in 1936 for a supporting role in her feature debut Pigskin Parade.  In that film, she got to sing three songs and received unanimous praise from the critics and audiences.  And yet, still nothing at MGM (excepting her “official” film debut in 1936’s short Every Sunday).

The events that led to Judy being cast in Broadway Melody had become studio legend long before she left in 1950.  Judy’s musical coach and mentor Roger Edens had been working with and coaching her from almost the day she first entered the studio gates.  It was Edens who wrote most of the special material for her radio appearances, and everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Judy became a star.

In early 1937, Edens created a fun take on “You Made Me Love You” for Judy to sing to Ben Bernie on his radio variety show.  She had originally wanted to sing “Drums In My Heart” a torrid love song Edens had previously arranged for Ethel Merman.  He told Judy that she was too young to sing such an adult song and to appease her, he made a deal that if he came up with something that she liked better she would sing that. If not, she could sing “Drums”.  He took “You Made Me Love You” and framed it with a musical love letter.  The joke was that Bernie was one of the last persons in Hollywood to inspire such passion.  Judy liked it, and they were all set for the Bernie show when studio chief Louis B. Mayer’s personal secretary (and champion of Judy) Ida Koverman stepped in.  She tapped Edens to provide some entertainment for their planned on-set celebration of Clark Gable’s birthday, knowing that it would help bring attention to Judy.  With a few lyric changes, Judy performed the song for Gable at the party on February 1, 1937.  She was a smash.  Reportedly Gable had tears in his eyes and Mayer ordained that a part had to be found for this little girl.

Contrary to popular belief, Judy was already slated to appear in Broadway Melody when she performed at the Gable party.  The song did not get her the part, but obviously the script was altered to allow her to perform in on-screen.  It was her first big hit, her first “signature” song, and she would keep the song in her repertoire (minus the spoken “Dear Mr. Gable” part) throughout the rest of her life.

When the film was released, Judy received the bulk of the praise and effectively stole the film from the real stars.  Her previous few years of inactivity at the studio were now over.  From here on out, she would be working almost non-stop until her time off in 1946/1947 to give birth to daughter Liza Minnelli.  The rest, as they say, is history…

TIMELINE:

  • February 1, 1937:  The birthday party for Gable on the set of Parnell where Judy sang “Dear Mr. Gable.”
  • February 22, 1937:  Judy sang “Dear Mr. Gable” at an MGM dinner/dance.
  • February 23, 1937:  Judy premiered “Dear Mr. Gable” to the public when she sang the song on “Jackie Oakie’s College” on the CBS Radio Network (this was Judy’s first radio series on which she would be a regular guest).
  • March 5, 1937:  Judy’s first day of work on Broadway Melody of 1938.  Judy pre-recorded “Everybody Sing” (with Sophie Tucker, Barnett Parker, J.D. Jewkes & The MGM Studio Chorus) on the legendary MGM recording stage. This was Judy’s first pre-recording for an MGM feature.
  • March 14, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Your Broadway And My Broadway.”  The number was filmed but then cut.  All that survives is the pre-recording. 
  • April 16, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Yours And Mine” with The St. Brendan’s Boys Choir.  This was another song that was filmed and then cut.  The pre-recording survives.
  • Early May 1937:  Judy performed “Dear Mr. Gable” as an MGM Exhibitor’s gathering.
  • May 7, 1937:  Judy pre-recorded “Dear Mr. Gable.” 
  • June 22, 1937:  Judy sang “Everybody Sing” on “Jackie Oakie’s College” radio show.
  • August 13, 1937:  Broadway Melody of 1938 previewed at the Village Theater in Westwood, California.
  • August 30, 1937: Judy recorded “Everybody Sing” for Decca Records. This was her first recording session under her new long term contract with the label.
  • September 24, 1937: Judy recorded “Dear Mr. Gable” for Decca Records.

Judy Garland with her "Clark Gable" charm braceletFACTOIDS:

  • The film Gable was making when the birthday celebration happened was Parnell.  He hated wearing the period clothing so much that he vowed never to make a period film again.  A few years later, when he was approached to play Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, part of his reluctance to take that role was his experiences on Parnell.
  • The filming for Broadway Melody started Judy’s busiest decade.  She worked almost non-stop in films, radio, and the recording studio (Decca) until her pregnancy with Liza in 1945/1946.
  • Decca Records president Jack Kapp was so impressed with Judy after seeing the premiere of the film, that he immediately drew up a contract for her.  Judy had previously cut a few records for Decca without the benefit of a contract.  This new contract began an association that would last until 1947 and gave Judy a chance to record material in a style that was much different than her recordings for her films with MGM.  Check out the Decca Records page at The Judy Garland Online Discography for more info.
  • Years later, Mickey Rooney joked that when Judy burst into tears at Gable’s reaction to her performance at his birthday party, that it was probably due to the fact that “Gable had such terrible halitosis”!
  • The studio milked “Dear Mr. Gable” for all its worth.  A studio portrait of Judy features her showing off a charm bracelet supposedly given to her by Gable out of appreciation.  In reality, the bracelet and accompanying story was concocted by the studio publicity department for the fan magazines.
  • Prior to the film’s release, Judy performed “Dear Mr. Gable” several times in public:  The night of the Gable party she performed it at the Café Trocadero, stealing the show from veterans like Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor, and George Jessel;  At MGM’s annual show for theater exhibitors and owners (Ann Rutherford later stated that Judy’s performance electrified the audience to the point that they “banged the tables!”);  She premiered the song on the radio the night of February 23, 1937, on “Jackie Oakie’s College” on the CBS Radio Network.
  • Sophie Tucker was quite taken with Judy, calling her the next “Red Hot Mama”, referring to Judy’s voice and Sophie’s own nickname.
  • The song “Yours And Mine” was recorded and filmed by Judy and later cut from the film prior to release.  A separate snippet of the song as sung by Judy can be heard during the film’s overture.  Judy recorded another song, “Your Broadway And My Broadway” for the film’s finale, which was also cut.

CAST:

Robert Taylor as Steve Raleigh

Eleanor Powell as Sally Lee

George Murphy as Sonny Ledford

Binnie Barnes as Caroline Whipple

Buddy Ebsen as Peter Trot

Sophie Tucker as Alice Clayton

Judy Garland as Betty Clayton

Charles Igor Gorin as Nicki Papaloapas

Raymond Walburn as Herman Whipple

Robert Benchley as Duffy

Willie Howard as Waiter

Charley Grapewin as James K. Blakely

Robert Wildhack as the sneezer

Billy Gilbert as George Papaloapas

Barnett Parker as Jerry Jason

Helen Troy as Emma Snipe

CREW:

Produced by: Jack Cummings

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

Screenplay: Jack McGowan (original story by Jack McGowan and Sid Silvers)

Music and Lyrics: Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed

Musical Presentations: Merrill Pye

Musical Arrangements: Roger Edens

Musical Direction: Georgie Stoll

Vocal and Orchestral Arrangements: Leo Arnaud and Murray Cutter

Dance Ensembles: Dave Gould

Photography: William Daniels

Editor: Blanche Sewell

Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons

SONGS:

Yours and Mine
(Judy Garland, behind titles)

Largo al factotum (from “The Barber of Seville,” by Rossini; sung by Charles Igor Gorin)

Follow in My Footsteps
(sung and danced by Eleanor Powell, George Murphy, Buddy Ebsen)

Yours and Mine
(Eleanor Powell)

Everybody Sing
(Judy Garland with Sophie Tucker, Barnett Parker, and Chorus)

Some of These Days
(Sophie Tucker)

I’m Feelin’ Like a Million
(sung and danced by Eleanor Powell and George Murphy)

Dear Mr. Gable: You Made Me Love You
(Judy Garland)

Yours and Mine
(danced by Eleanor Powell and George Murphy)

Yours and Mine
(danced by Judy Garland and Buddy Ebsen)

Your Broadway and My Broadway
(Sophie Tucker and Chorus)

Broadway Rhythm
(danced by Eleanor Powell)

Outtakes:

Yours And Mine
(Judy Garland)

Your Broadway and My Broadway
(Judy Garland and Chorus)

I’m Feelin’ Like a Million
(Judy Garland)

Got a Pair of New Shoes
(Eleanor Powell)

Sun Showers
(Charles Igor Gorin)

Daily Music Reports (incomplete)

Media

PRE-RECORDING SESSIONS
The 1996 2-CD set “Collector’s Gems from the M-G-M Films” featured the premiere release of the remastered versions of “Everybody Sing,” “Your Broadway And My Broadway,” and “Yours And Mine.”

The 2017 2-CD set “Soundtracks” features remastered versions of “Everybody Sing” (the version as heard in the film itself) and “You Made Me Love You” (with the correct ending).

YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU – Take 3 (May 7, 1937)
This pre-recording features the middle section without Judy’s spoken monologue giving us a chance to hear the wonderful arrangement.  This take also features an alternate ending.

YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU – Tag – Take 1 (May 7, 1937)
This alternate ending can be heard tagged onto the version of “You Made Me Love You” that was included in both That’s Entertainment! CD boxed sets from 1995 and 2006. The version heard in the film, with the powerhouse tag recorded later can be found on the 2017 2-CD set “Soundtracks.”

YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU – Tag – Take 2 (May 7, 1937)
EVERYBODY SING Part 1 – Take 6 (Mar 5, 1937)
EVERYBODY SING Part 1 – Take 7 (Mar 5, 1937)
EVERYBODY SING Part 1 – Take 8 (Mar 5, 1937)
EVERYBODY SING Part 2 – Take 4 (Mar 5, 1937)
EVERYBODY SING Part 2 – Take 6 (Mar 5, 1937)
YOUR BROADWAY AND MY BROADWAY – Take 7 (remastered) (Mar 14, 1937)
YOUR BROADWAY AND MY BROADWAY – Take 8 (Mar 14, 1937)
YOURS AND MINE – Take 9 (Apr 16, 1937)
YOURS AND MINE – Take 11 (Apr 16, 1937)