42nd Street (1933)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Musical, Romance  |  11 March 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 7,597 users  
Reviews: 95 user | 64 critic

A producer puts on what may be his last Broadway show, and at the last moment a chorus girl has to replace the star...



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
George Brent ...
Una Merkel ...
Ned Sparks ...
Mac Elroy
Edward J. Nugent ...
Robert McWade ...
Andy Lee


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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Forty-Second Street  »

Box Office


$439,000 (estimated)


$2,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Ruby Keeler. See more »


During the Suffle to Buffalo number, the position of the shoes when dropped change. See more »


Ann Lowell: [to chorus girl] It must have been hard on your mother, not having any children.
See more »


Featured in Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) See more »


Love Theme
(1932) (uncredited)
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 »

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User Reviews

"Sawyer you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star."
25 November 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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?

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