6.9/10
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13 user 3 critic

Bright Lights (1930)

A successful Broadway star ready to retire from her wild career announces her engagement. But her tumultuous past isn't done with her yet.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
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Wally Dean
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Miguel Parada
...
Mame Avery
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Connie Lamont
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Tom Avery
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Peggy North
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A. Hamilton Fish, a reporter
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Harris
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'Windy' Jones (as Eddie Nugent)
Philip Strange ...
Emerson Fairchild
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Storyline

The lovely young star of a Broadway show is giving an interview to several newspaper writers and tells them about her wild life, parts of which involved "hula dancing" in Africa and an involvement with a dangerous Portuguese smuggler. Unbeknownst to her, the smuggler has showed up at the theater on that very night. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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What a Cast and Story - Crammed With Drama -- Songs -- Girls -- Hatred. And How Dorothy Does That Hula-Hula -- Oh Boy!

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Musical | Drama

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Release Date:

21 September 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adventures in Africa  »

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(Western Electric Apparatus)

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(TV prints)| (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Trivia

In September 1928, Warner Bros. Pictures purchased a majority interest in First National Pictures and from that point on, all "First National" productions were actually made under Warner Bros. control, even though the two companies continued to retain separate identities until the mid-1930's, after which time "A Warner Bros.-First National Picture" was often used. See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Just a Man About Town
(1930) (uncredited)
Sung by Dorothy Mackaill in the show
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1 June 2015 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

A Broadway star is giving up the stage to marry a millionaire, but she might be happier with the man who brought her up through the showbiz ranks.

BRIGHT LIGHTS (1930) is ultimately a movie about a show business family and how everyone supports each other. The action takes place on the night of Louanne's (Dorothy Mackaill) last performance in a successful musical revue before settling down with a rich society type. Louanne's co-star Wally (Frank Fay) has been with her through the ups and downs, and in fact groomed Louanne to be the star she's become. Wally loves Louanne and wants nothing but the best for her, even if that means letting her marry another man.

Director Michael Curtiz uses flashback sequences to contrast Louanne's press-friendly account of her "innocent" past with the more vulgar realities of her life (dancing the hula in African saloons and cheap carnivals). When her past threatens to ruin her impending marriage, Wally steps in to protect her.

I'd recently seen Dorothy Mackaill in another talkie and was disappointed with her performance, but she's much better here. Much more "alive", joking around with Fay in an early scene in her dressing room and doing her fair share of singing and dancing in the musical numbers. Frank Fay plays his role like an old pro. He made relatively few movies in his career but I still find ones I haven't seen before.

Joining them in the cast is Inez Courtney, who pops up in lots of early-'30s films as the female lead's funny friend. She's awfully cute here as another performer whose boyfriend (THE CROWD's James Murray) makes a business deal with a ghost from Louanne's past. That ghost (and the villain of the piece) is Noah Beery Sr., playing a Portuguese (?!) diamond smuggler from Louanne's African days. Frank McHugh is the inebriated reporter who hangs around backstage and Tom Dugan and frequent Laurel & Hardy co-star Daphne Pollard play a battling married couple in the company.

The cast of the show-within-the-show, along with their romantic partners, the stage manager, the security guard, and the usual crowd buzzing around backstage make up a sort of close-knit family, and it's touching to see how they cover for each other when the theater becomes the scene of a murder investigation.

There are several musical routines featured within the context of the story. The songs are nothing special and the choreography isn't very elaborate (we're not talking about Busby Berkeley here), but it might've been the bee's knees back in the very early days of film musicals. The opening number is an ode to New York City (including a bizarre Wall Street set piece), and there's a "rah rah" college-themed number and an exotic "cannibal" number.

Some of the jokes fall flat, but the cast is engaging and the film balances music, romance, comedy, and suspense all in a comfortable sixty-nine minutes.

TCM aired BRIGHT LIGHTS under its rather misleading re-release name ADVENTURES IN_AFRICA.


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