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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.


Michael Curtiz


Humphrey Pearson (screen version & dialogue), Henry McCarty (screen version & dialogue)


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Complete credited cast:
Dorothy Mackaill ... Louanne
Frank Fay ... Wally Dean
Noah Beery ... Miguel Parada
Daphne Pollard ... Mame Avery
James Murray ... Connie Lamont
Tom Dugan ... Tom Avery
Inez Courtney ... Peggy North
Frank McHugh ... A. Hamilton Fish, a reporter
Edmund Breese ... Harris
Edward J. Nugent ... 'Windy' Jones (as Eddie Nugent)
Philip Strange Philip Strange ... Emerson Fairchild


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


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


Drama | Musical | Romance







Release Date:

21 September 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adventures in Africa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Apparatus) (Vitaphone)


Black and White (TV prints)| Color (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The rather incongruous re-release title originated when it was sold to television in 1956, in order to avoid confusion with the similarly titled Bright Lights (1935) which was not a remake, and had no other connection, except the reused title. See more »


Song of the Congo
Written by Ned Washington, Ray Perkins & Herb Magidson
Sung by Dorothy Mackaill in a flashback in South Africa
Reprised by her in the current show
See more »

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User Reviews

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1 June 2015 | by jimjo1216See 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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