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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)




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
Learn more

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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


UTTERLY UTTERLY REAL and THRILLING (Print Ad- Albany Evening News, ((Albany NY)) 29 August 1930) See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


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 »


I'm Just a Man About Town
(1930) (uncredited)
Sung by Dorothy Mackaill in the show
See more »

User Reviews

The screen debut of John Carradine
24 January 2015 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

"Bright Lights" was for years virtually unseen, unappreciated in its day due to the huge number of musicals that exploded across early talkie screens. Shot by director Michael Curtiz in two-strip Technicolor in Dec 1929, its belated release on Sept 21 1930 found an unreceptive audience, so the film was pulled back, its 73 minute running time trimmed by five minutes, and reissued under the new title "Adventures in Africa" (the only existing title on all current prints, all unfortunately in black and white). Top billed Dorothy Mackaill had been a huge star in silents, somewhat overshadowed by the large cast, but still able to spice things up in all her scantily clad glory, director Curtiz failing to hide anything as she undresses in silhouette. Her singing isn't too bad either, but the songs tend to slow the pace of a wild, over the top script that juggles her impending marriage to wealthy socialite Fairchild (Philip Strange) with various backstage shenanigans on the night of her farewell performance. Frank Fay, then husband of Barbara Stanwyck, co-stars as Louanne's possessive former partner, who listens to her stories to the press about some of her past experiences, including a naval baring number in South Africa titled "Song of the Congo," witnessed by Portuguese smuggler Miguel Parada (Beery), whose lascivious attempt at rape finds her throwing a lit oil lamp at his face. Now on her last night in the Broadway footlights, Miguel (to no one's surprise) just happens to be in the audience, a hidden gun just waiting to exact revenge. It's somewhat jarring to find such a comedic ensemble huddled into a murder mystery for the film's second half, after Miguel winds up shot dead with his own pistol (at least the pace picks up at this time). The solution doesn't make much sense, and the possibility of a second murder at the fadeout really makes this musical a true pre-code oddity (lots of suggestive dialogue survives: "that's the cleanest proposition I've had all day!"). While most of the performers have long since faded from memory (Dorothy's making a comeback, God bless her), one uncredited actor was here making his screen debut at age 23, a Shakespearean wannabe calling himself 'Peter Richmond,' eventually going by the name John Carradine by 1935. Arriving in sunny California in 1927, Carradine was living a vagabond life, working as an artist and dishwater to make ends meet when not performing on stage, meeting his idol John Barrymore around this time with the goal of doing "Richard III." In adopting Barrymore's lifestyle of drinking and carousing, the already flamboyant Carradine found a kindred spirit, each possessing 'The Divine Madness,' forever looking down his nose at movie work, never mentioning this film while touting his next title, "Tol'able David," as his first (understandable, since there he had a featured role). In "Bright Lights," Carradine appears at the 11 minute mark for a period of 20 minutes, mostly off camera among the many newshounds gathered in Louanne's dressing room for a spot of note taking. He's the tallest one, clean shaven and wearing a hat, a newspaper photographer who gets to speak two lines, a total of four words: "Telegraph here" and "sure, sure!" Always seen in the background, he enjoys over two minutes screen time, while the unbilled blonde chased by boozing reporter Frank McHugh, Violet Madison (Jean Laverty), surely deserved a screen credit ("no matter where you hide it, I'll find it!"). He undoubtedly looked upon this as a quick buck, not intending to have a future in the movies, but by 1936 his screen career was assured, his affinity for on screen perfidy earning him kudos in John Ford's "The Prisoner of Shark Island."

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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 »

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