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Director: Roy William Neill

Screenwriter: Howard J. Green

Producer: Harry Cohn

Editor: Leonard Wheeler

Cast: Buster Collier, Alice Day, John St. Polis, Johnnie Walker

Cinamatographer: Ted Tetzlaff


The Melody Man

Scheduled to attend: Rita Belda


narrative • USA • 1930 • DCP • 71 MIN

section: Restorations and Rediscoveries

In a fit of jealous rage, renowned Viennese composer von Kemper (John St. Polis), murders his wife and her lover and flees Austria with his young daughter, Elsa. 15 years later in NYC, an incognito von Kemper is eking out a living playing violin at a small restaurant. Elsa, ignorant of her father’s crimes and herself a developing musical prodigy, begins a flirtation with jazz musician Al Tyler (Buster Collier), much to the temperamental von Kemper’s chagrin. A fun and fast-paced discovery from the pre-code era, The Melody Man is Columbia Pictures’ contribution to the plethora of early talkies with multiple musical interludes. Released in early 1930, a year when Columbia was the smallest of the eight major studios, this adaptation of a non-musical play by Rodgers and Hart is told without major stars and without the over-the-top production details that even another small studio like Universal would lavish on that same year’s King of Jazz. In its own charming, low-budget way, Columbia adds value with some lurid story elements, snappy musical performances, and by rendering the first sequence in an early form of Technicolor. A new 4K version of The Melody Man will have its world premiere at this year’s WFF, presented in person by Wisconsin’s Own Rita Belda, Vice President of asset management, film restoration, and digital mastering. (JH)

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