Broadway Babies (1929)

In a boarding house specifically serving the budding stars of the stage, showgirl Dee (Alice White) lives with two of her best friends. Also rooming there is Billy (Charles Delaney), Dee’s newly-minted fiance.

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(Image via Film Affinity)

Dee and Billy seem to have a happy future ahead. He runs the show she’s in, and both are sure they’re set for success, on the stage and in their future marriage.

But when Detroit gambler Gessant (Fred Kohler) arrives in town and takes a liking to Dee after seeing her rehearse through a window, things get complicated. Mad at Billy for giving another gal a goodbye kiss, Dee agrees to hit the town with Gessant one night, leading to new opportunities in her career as well as in the love department.

Broadway Babies was directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

A boarding house full of show people makes for a lively and fun setting, and Broadway Babies does a nice job of keeping up a bright mood throughout most of its run-time.

It’s a story of love vs. stardom. Should Dee marry Billy, or take the advice of her landlord and friends, shunning romance in favor of what’s best for her career? Alongside this romantic chaos and stardom-seeking comes a fairly interesting crime story of a Detroit gambler scheming his way through New York City.

If one corner of the story doesn’t interest you, another is bound to — there’s a little something for almost anyone to enjoy.

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(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

And there are a few memorable laughs to be had, like a newspaper article about Dee and her pals, referring to them as “musketeers” because they are honest workers, supporting themselves rather than relying on sugar daddies!

Alice White is, without a doubt, one of the film’s strongest assets. Her singing, admittedly, isn’t great, which left me tempted to mute her three big musical numbers. But she has truckloads of personality and a wonderful screen presence which more than make up for the lackluster tunes.

All of the gangster drama and romantic ups-and-downs wrap up with a very cute ending. Broadway Babies won’t be counted by many among the best of the early talkies, but it’s a fine time passer with a few laughs and a lovable leading lady.

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