42nd Street (1933) – Lloyd Bacon


My foray into musicals continues with 42nd Street, the first recommendation to come from my viewing of Gold Diggers of 1933. Yet another film that was delightfully enjoyable, though I tended to enjoy some of the antics the girls got up to in Gold Diggers a little more. Having said that, the musical numbers, once again featuring choreography by Busby Berkely, and the characters in this film are a lot of fun. There are some fabulous tunes, and it’s no wonder that this one has been a crowd-pleaser since its debut in ’33.

Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels) has just inked a deal to star in a new revue, Pretty Lady, for the Jones & Barry theatrical agency. They’ve secured the biggest producer/director in musicals to mount the production, Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter). He has a reputation as a bit of a task master, but he’s well aware that this may be his last show, as he has a bit of a medical condition. Joining the cast this time around are Ruby Keeler as Peggy, Ginger Rogers as Ann, and Dick Powell as Billy Lawler. With these and other actors, who also appeared in Gold Diggers, it could become very understandable that the two could become mixed up.

We follow the show through its auditions, rehearsals, arguments with the scriptwriters about how to properly say a line… it’s all here. And there is lots going on behind the scenes as well. Dorothy has been required to make nice with one of the producers, Abner (Guy Kibbee), and this causes her own fella Pat (George Brent), to lurk in the shadows and steal moments with her when he can. Course when he starts to pal around with Peggy, that causes some problems, even if Pat just sees Peggy as a friend.


When rehearsals go fairly well, the cast is shocked to find that they are opening in Philadelphia!! While there, on the eve of the show, Dorothy, who is having a bit of a catch-up with Pat, before Peggy intrudes, breaks her ankle and is unable to go on! This leads to the opportunity, at Ann’s pushing, for Peggy to take the lead in the show, and become the chorus girl who saved the show!

And maybe, if she’s lucky, she’ll find a bit of romance along the way, in this fun little film, rife with behind the scenes melodrama, and some wonderful tunes including You’re Getting To Be a Habit with Me.

I’ve always enjoyed a good musical, I love the tunes, and this one was a nice little delight, and in the past two films, I’ve seen Rogers play secondary characters, and am rather looking forward to seeing her take center stage soon enough, when I roll around to the next big title in Musicals. Sure it’s a ways off at the moment, but she is definitely giving me something to look forward to.

What’s your favorite musical?






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