42nd Street (1933)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 1933.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by , , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .

The genre of backstage musicals had its first huge success with this showstopper, a bland story done incredible justice by the energetic performances and Busby Berkeley-choreographed numbers. Ginger Rogers has all the best lines as a wise-cracking chorus girl (“Put a little more feeling into it!” “What do you want me to do, bite my nails?”) in a big Broadway show being directed by an emotionally unstable Warner Baxter.

 is the cartoon-faced leading man who manages to romance , a naive kid who goes big time in no time flat. Keeler was never more than mediocre in any of her talents, whether singing, acting or dancing, but that was precisely what made her so popular among Depression-era audiences: if she could make it as a Hollywood star, any girl could, and she must have kept many dreams alive during that rough time in America’s economic history.

All the musical numbers are exceptional, but the finale which features the classic “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” (complete with double-folding train setpiece) is the film’s best.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Picture; Best Sound Recording


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