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The Broadway Melody thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

The Broadway Melody

Costume
1929 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Broadway Melody was MGM’s (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) first all-talking, all-singing, musical comedy. The arrival of sound to the movies in the 1920s had an effect on virtually every aspect of the industry, including costume design. The silent era, which bore the strong influence of vaudeville and music hall, was marked by exaggerated conventions of performance. This was matched by costume design which was often intended to convey a strong archetype on first sight.

This period of transition is best described by Bessie Love, the star of The Broadway Melody, ‘the pressure on everybody to produce the first all-sound motion picture was tremendous. All the big studios were engaged in this race. We worked 12 to 18 hours a day with only Sunday mornings off to catch up on sleep. For The Broadway Melody we had these huge stage settings. The bigger the set the more trouble it meant for us “sound wise”. It would become a maelstrom of activity where every squeak was enlarged to a bellow’.

The British Film Institute (BFI) acquired its costume collection for display at the Museum of the Moving Image, which existed on the South Bank in London between 1988 and 1999. The collection is made up of British, European, American and Japanese films and covers the period from the silent film era to the mid-1990s. It contains a wealth of historic and significant film costumes worn by major performers and designed by some of the 20th century’s most important film costume designers. The collection was transferred to the V&A in 2015.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 5 parts.
(Some alternative part names are also shown below)
  • Costume
  • Waistcoat
  • Costume
  • Shorts
  • Costume
  • Hat
  • Costume
  • Cuff
  • Costume
  • Cuff
Materials and Techniques
Black sequins on textile ground embellished with paste jewels and detailing in diamante. The hat stiffened with wire.
Brief Description
Film costume worn by Bessie Love in the film The Broadway Melody, 1929
Physical Description
Film costume in five parts, consisting of waistcoat, shorts, hat and two separate 'cuffs.' Worn by Bessie Love in the film The Broadway Melody, 1929.
Credit line
Given by the British Film Institute
Summary
The Broadway Melody was MGM’s (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) first all-talking, all-singing, musical comedy. The arrival of sound to the movies in the 1920s had an effect on virtually every aspect of the industry, including costume design. The silent era, which bore the strong influence of vaudeville and music hall, was marked by exaggerated conventions of performance. This was matched by costume design which was often intended to convey a strong archetype on first sight.



This period of transition is best described by Bessie Love, the star of The Broadway Melody, ‘the pressure on everybody to produce the first all-sound motion picture was tremendous. All the big studios were engaged in this race. We worked 12 to 18 hours a day with only Sunday mornings off to catch up on sleep. For The Broadway Melody we had these huge stage settings. The bigger the set the more trouble it meant for us “sound wise”. It would become a maelstrom of activity where every squeak was enlarged to a bellow’.



The British Film Institute (BFI) acquired its costume collection for display at the Museum of the Moving Image, which existed on the South Bank in London between 1988 and 1999. The collection is made up of British, European, American and Japanese films and covers the period from the silent film era to the mid-1990s. It contains a wealth of historic and significant film costumes worn by major performers and designed by some of the 20th century’s most important film costume designers. The collection was transferred to the V&A in 2015.
Associated Object
Collection
Accession Number
S.1685:1 to 5-2015

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record createdMay 29, 2015
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