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Olivia de Havilland,
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Josef von Sternberg
Anna May Wong
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
This film, released on March 9, 1933, single-handedly rescued the movie musical, which had been considered a money losing proposition since mid-1930. Early "all talking, all dancing" musicals typically suffered from severe camera restrictions coupled with poor musical staging, soured the public on the genre in general (Universal's huge losses from the lively King of Jazz (1930) had put an unofficial moratorium on the musical) and no other studio wanted to risk producing one. Warners, at the time of the film's release, had Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) nearing completion and pre-production plans were well underway for Footlight Parade (1933), all utilizing the talents of Busby Berkeley. The success of this film would convince Radio Pictures to produce Flying Down to Rio (1933) (released that December). Other major studios would continue to shy away from musicals throughout 1933, although Paramount would proceed with plans to produce the lavish Murder at the Vanities (1934) toward the end of the year. See more »
During the Suffle to Buffalo number, the position of the shoes when dropped change. See more »
Music by Harry Warren
Instrumental heard in apartment scene with Pat Denning and Peggy Sawyer
Also heard after Peggy's practice for the lead in the show, when Billy Lawler joins her See more »
I seem to recall reading/hearing somewhere that movie musicals were becoming less popular in the 1930s. They were, for the most part, creaky messes with poor sound quality. Then came this movie, which you can credit (or blame, depending on whether you like musicals or not) for popularizing them.
The story has been done before now (2004) and was probably done before in 1933. Prima donna gets injured, the ingenue must take her place. All the clichés come out in full force, but with enough enthusiasm that you may find yourself sucked in, depending on how jaded a viewer you are.
The performances are good. Daniels is stunning, and a good actress, and she can sing. We don't get to see her dance too much though. Powell makes a good juvenile lead and sings well. Keeler gets a bit annoying, but that's probably just the character she is playing. She cannot really sing, and I never thought her dancing was that great. I'm a fan of Ginger Rogers though, so I am biased when I wonder how this movie could have catapulted Keeler and Powell to stardom while Rogers had to wait until she was paired with Astaire for her career to take off. After seeing movies starring the likes of Astaire, Rogers, Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller, Gene Kelly, etc. I find Keeler's dancing to be a bit heavy-footed. Not that it is terrible, she does pull the part off well enough. The Busby Berkeley choreography is fabulous--no one did it like he did it. Just never you mind that if the show were actually on a stage the way it is supposed to be in the movie, you wouldn't actually notice the aerial geometric patterns. Still, it is nice to look at. So leave your sense of reality in the other room, pop this movie in your VCR/DVD player, and enjoy!
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