Broken Hearts of Broadway (1923) Poster

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Colleen Moore and That's About It
drednm2 July 2005
Nothing special in this Broadway story of the 20s. Moore is a hick who comes to New York to be a star. She is befriended by everyone, including an aspiring (Johnnie Walker) song writer and a chorus girl (Alice Lake) with big dreams. She's also taken in by the narrator, a cab driver (Tully Marshall) who tells the story to a failure (Creighton Hale), and his wife (Kate Price). Starts out nicely with some nice camera shots but soon becomes dull and staid. Part of the problem is that Moore never does anything. We see a glimpse of her performing in a splendid Chinese joint, but that goes nowhere. Lake, on the other hand, does a nice dance in a see-through skirt (fringed with fur), but there's not much "show biz" in this Broadway tale. Walker seems a bit dull here, and reminds one of a young Lyle Talbot. There's also an hysterical Italian painter and a couple of dull businessmen, but they add little to the story. Too bad. This film came out the same year as Moore's legendary smash hit, Flaming Youth (now lost), the film that made her one of the biggest stars of the 20s.
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Miss Moore's Winning Personality!!
kidboots24 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Even though, to fans, she was the perfect flapper with phenomenal movie success, at one time earning over $12,000 a week, she was no overnight success. She worked long and hard for quite a few years at several studios (one, Selig closed just after she made good there in 1918) before Marshall Neilan decided she would be right for a small role in his "Dinty". "Broken Hearts of Broadway" made just before she hit the big time was nothing special, it had all been done before and in some ways ("Sex"(1920)) a lot better.

"The Street of All Streets" as Broadway is introduced is now a forlorn hop to struggling playwright Creighton Hale who is willing to admit he is licked but happens to hear the story of Mary Ellis (Moore), the latest "Great White Way" discovery, from taxi driver Tully Marshall. She has come to Broadway a "greenhorn" but happens to make the acquaintance of George Conlon (Johnny Walker) - yes, you guessed it, a struggling songwriter who lives in the flat above. Mary's flatmate "Bubbles" Revere (Alice Lake) used to be "green" but she has got wise and now eagerly takes jewels and jobs from stage door millionaires in exchange for being "friendly"!! Of course Mary refuses but it is hard to pay bills on your principles, while your friend has a speciality dance spot in the brightest show in town. "Bubbles" gold digger ways has also put a former suitor's nose out of joint - he thought "Bubbles" declarations of love meant something but she was just stringing him along and on the night Mary decides to put aside her "good girl" ways (as she confesses to George "I'm sick of being hungry and poor, I want some good times as well") he decides to take drastic action. Unfortunately the chap he kills is Mary's admirer and of course Mary (who got cold feet in the cab and was forced to walk home in the rain) gets the blame!!

Johnny Walker was an affable leading man of the silents whose career strangely petered out in the talkies. He does quite well as the male lead but I agree with the other review, Alice Lake has the more engrossing story line. It is a tribute to Miss Moore's winning personality that she is the one you remember.
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Broadway Is Always Like This!
JohnHowardReid10 February 2008
It's always a pleasure to see the lovely Colleen Moore in action. Even when handed a script that wanders all over the place, Miss Moore still manages to shine. Mind you, it's not really the sort of role we like to encounter her in, because the character she plays is so colorless, she's forced to let the rest of the cast walk all over her. It's really a Johnnie Walker and Alice Lake movie, even though George and Bubbles have little in common and few scenes together. But they're both very personable players and they're given a great deal of footage.

The direction rates as reasonably competent with me and like all Mr Cummings' movies shows occasional flashes of brilliance.

The script is the problem. A flashback is a suspenseless device to start with. But just as this what-happened-back-then scenario seems to settle down into its conventional formulas of rags to success, virtue is its own reward and the price of fame is body and soul, it switches all of a sudden into a half-baked murder mystery which is then quickly and most unconvincingly resolved.

At this point the script-writers unexpectedly decide to substitute subtlety and brevity for the detailed exposition of previous scenes. The flashback ends and disappointingly the main plot is then breathlessly wound up Tully Marshall--a fine actor, but in this movie he's merely a minor support player
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Disappointing drama suffers from uninspired direction.
David-24011 February 2002
Irving Cummings seems to have been very uninspired by this drama about an aspiring actress struggling to survive on Broadway. His direction is dull, mostly simple two-shots with very few close-ups. In fact I don't think Johnny Walker gets a single close-up in the entire film. And his reluctance to bring the camera in close means that he doesn't use the wonderfully expressive face of Colleen Moore. There is one gorgeous close-up of her looking through a curtain which demonstrates how foolish Cummings' fear of close-ups was. Her face expressing so much emotion that we can feel the envy she feels, as her gold-digger friend goes off to fame and fortune.

This film is certainly a missed opportunity - a great cast, a good (if somewhat cliched) story and a fascinating setting (Broadway in the 1920's). But Cummings chooses to shoot all the dance routines from the side - like we are watching from the wings. A nice idea for some shots - but for all of them! The Broadway shows look pretty shoddy anyway. Perhaps this was a budgetary problem.

Anyway, the film is worth seeing for a glimpse of the great Colleen Moore in an early leading role.
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Same Old Song and Dance
wes-connors28 February 2015
Arriving in New York City with $200 and a pair of rose-colored glasses, sweet little Colleen Moore (as Mary Ellis) dreams of becoming a Broadway star. She moves in with experienced chorus girl Alice Lake (as "Bubbles" Revere) and starts making the rounds. Her amateur experience and avoidance of the "casting couch" makes it difficult for Ms. Moore. Moore would prefer to spend romantic time with struggling songwriter Johnnie Walker (as George Colton), who lives in the room upstairs. Tired of being poor, Moore tries to be personable with successful men in show business, but it isn't in her nature and leads to a tragic incident...

This typical story is a nice vehicle for the increasingly charming Colleen Moore, who would become a film superstar by the end of the decade...

She is certainly the star of the film, but Moore is also obviously not in sync with director Irving Cummings, who seems to favor the drama's more exuberant supporting players. Also, Mr. Cummings and the title card editor sometimes cut away from Moore in the midst of conveying something important. You really shouldn't cut away from Moore, until she's done. A fine scene with Moore silhouetted in a doorway, accompanied by a close-up, is an obvious highlight. The framing is nicely done, but horse cab driver Tully Marshall and luckless playwright Creighton Hale have no real emotional connection to main characters or story.

**** Broken Hearts of Broadway (7/23) Irving Cummings ~ Colleen Moore, Johnnie Walker, Alice Lake, Kate Price
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