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42nd Street (1933)

Cast: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, more...
Director: Lloyd Bacon
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Classics, Musicals, Pre-Code, Precode
Running Time: 89 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French
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The quintessential "backstage" musical, 42nd Street traces the history of a Broadway musical comedy, from casting call to opening night. Warner Baxter plays famed director Julian Marsh, who despite failing health is determined to stage one last great production, "Pretty Lady." Others involved include "Pretty Lady" star Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels); Dorothy's "sugar daddy" (Guy Kibbee), who finances the show; her true love Pat (George Brent); leading man Billy Lawlor (Dick Powell); and starry-eyed chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler). It practically goes without saying that Dorothy twists her ankle the night before the premiere, forcing Julian Marsh is to put chorine Peggy into the lead: "You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" Delightfully corny, with hilarious wisecracking support from the likes of Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, and George E. Stone, 42nd Street is perhaps the most famous of Warners' early-1930s Busby Berkeley musicals. Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes (which was a lot steamier than the movie censors would allow), 42nd Street is highlighted by such grandiose musical setpieces as "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Young and Healthy," and of course the title song. Nearly fifty years after its premiere, it was successfully revived as a Broadway musical with Tammy Grimes and Jerry Orbach. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Time Capsule Musical by Maasgarid December 2, 2005 - 1:03 PM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This was exactly what I expected it to be. Everything you'd expect in a musical is here: big characters, pretty & pointless musical numbers, and very little plot. The choreography has lost some of its lustre over time, but you have to remember this film is 70 years old. The dialogue is quite strange to today's ears, but interesting nonetheless.

Oddly enough, I found the DVD extras almost more interesting than the film. A handful of "newsreels" (promotional shorts) are included that offer a glimpse of movie studio life in the 1930's. I recommend a rental based on this alone.

SHINING MOMENT -- From one of the newsreels, the perky blonde starlet trying to get an acting job next to the Zulu warrior, complete with spear.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.32)
73 Votes
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Broadway, Vaudeville, Burlesque & Theater
Vintage entertainment, variety acts, musical numbers and the legitimate theater
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