In a luxury hotel stage director Nicoleff stages a show to get the money to pay his bills. Mrs. Prentiss, who is backing the show wants her daughter Ann to marry the millionaire T. Mosely ... See full summary »
Multi-millionaire Ezra Ounce wants to start a campaign against 'filthy' forms of entertainment, like Broadway-Shows. He comes to his relatives families and makes them members of his ... See full summary »
Mimi Glossop wants a divorce so her Aunt Hortense hires a professional to play the correspondent in apparent infidelity. American dancer Guy Holden meets Mimi while visiting Brightbourne (... See full summary »
Renowned Broadway producer/director Julian Marsh is hired to put together a new musical revue. It's being financed by Abner Dillon to provide a starring vehicle for his girlfriend, songstress Dorothy Brock. Marsh, who is quite ill, is a difficult task master working long hours and continually pushing the cast to do better. When Brock breaks her ankle one of the chorus girls, Peggy Sawyer, gets her big chance to be the star. She also finds romance along the way. Written by
The "42nd Street" finale features full size cars as well as buildings. In order to present this the stage would have had to be at least 60 feet deep and over 100 feet wide. This would be impossible in a real theater. See more »
[singing while eating an apple]
Matrimony is baloney
[eating a banana]
She'll be wanting alimony in a year or so;
Ann Lowell, Loraine:
Still they go and shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo.
When she knows as much as we know, she'll be on her way to Reno,
While he still has dough; she'll give him the shuffle
Ann Lowell, Loraine:
When they're back from Buffalo.
I'll bet that she's the farmer's daughter
And he's that well-known traveling man;
He once stopped down at the farm house,
That's how the whole affair began!
[...] See more »
"Sawyer you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star."
In reviewing one of the film versions of The Virginian I said that it was the prototype for all the westerns that were done, where all the clichés started. The same can certainly be said for 42nd Street, THE original backstage musical.
It's also a film that couldn't be made but right in the middle of the Hoover Depression. Today's audiences can certainly appreciate the magic in the Busby Berkeley musical numbers, but the economics of the situation can hardly be grasped. Many shows on Broadway opened and closed fast after the Stock Market crash of 1929 because no one could afford the price of a ticket. A whole lot of the wealthiest producer/ directors on Broadway from Florenz Ziegfeld on down lost plenty of money in that era.
Warner Baxter's producer was such a man. He's lost his shirt in the market and he has to come up with a smash hit for his own economic survival. The cast and crew he assembles to put on the show Pretty Lady are all fighting for their survival. There are plenty of talented people out of work so none of them better mess up.
Guy Kibbee is the sugar daddy and of course his price for financing the show is some kanoodling with star Bebe Daniels. Probably at that point in history his money gives him more power over everyone than would even normally be the case. You really hate Kibbee in this, not because he's mean or vicious, but why should such an obvious fool and oaf control the destiny of so many.
Bebe of course has her problems, a man who taught her the business, but who she left behind in vaudeville while she hit the big time on Broadway. We never do see George Brent do any songs or snappy vaudeville patter, but that's all right because he's believable as the happy go lucky hoofer who might have been big time if he had the breaks.
And of course the youngsters, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, playing in their first film together. Powell has one big number, Young and Healthy, but it's on Keeler that the plot really turns.
I suppose the real star of this film is Busby Berkeley who's vision of kaleidoscopic chorus girls came into real fruition here. The Depression story is dated, but Berkeley's musical numbers, Young and Healthy, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, and 42nd Street are eternal. That and all the clichés about putting on a Broadway show that became standard in films for generations.
Baxter's driven producer/director, Daniels' egotistic star, Brent's vaudeville hoofer, Kibbee's moronic businessman backer, and eager hopefuls Powell and Keeler became clichéd characters in a dozen films any movie fan could name.
But it all started here folks, it all started with 42nd Street.
21 of 27 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?