Arthur Tracy, aka The Street Singer made his motion picture debut singing an obbligato to Bing Crosby's Here Lies Love in The Big Broadcast for Paramount in 1932. Though he was a radio star of some renown, no further film offers from America were forthcoming.
So Tracy went to the United Kingdom where he headlined to sold out crowds at the London Palladium. On the strength of his reception by the British public, Herbert J. Wilcox signed him to co-star with his wife Anna Neagle in Limelight.
Sad to say I saw a tape of Limelight where a quarter of the running time was cut out. It was Ms. Neagle who got short changed in the botched editing, she only gets part of one song whereas Tracy's musical numbers remained intact. On the version I saw, the running time was about 57 minutes of the original 80.
I saw enough of the film however to appreciate Tracy's artistry and screen presence. Of course the obligatory Marta was in the film. He also sang a number called The Whistling Waltz which he made popular across the pond. Not to mention La Donne E Mobile from Rigoletto. All good material for Tracy's Bari-tenor voice.
Limelight is a fairly routine backstage story with chorus girl Anna Neagle discovering Tracy who was literally acting out his stage name as The Street Singer. The leading man did a bit of substance abuse at the last minute and was afraid to go on. Anna hears Tracy out in the street as a Busker and brings him in and he goes on and wows the house.
After that it's the usual boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets tempted by another girl story. Jack Buchanan makes a small cameo appearance as himself as well.
Hopefully we'll get to see an uncut version of Limelight at some point, maybe on TCM.
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