7.7/10
4,073
65 user 35 critic

Footlight Parade (1933)

Trailer
3:16 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Writers:

Manuel Seff (screen play), James Seymour (screen play)
Reviews
Popularity
3,195 ( 11,045)
1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon
42nd Street (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A director puts on what may be his last Broadway show and, at the last moment, a naive newcomer has to replace the star.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent
Dames (1934)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A multimillionaire decides to boycott "filthy" forms of entertainment such as Broadway shows.

Directors: Ray Enright, Busby Berkeley
Stars: Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Romantic antics abound among the guests at a luxury hotel, including a stage director, an eccentric millionaire, and the daughter of a financial backer.

Director: Busby Berkeley
Stars: Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

When two investors inform an opportunistic dancer that they can't fund an elderly stage producer's production, she suggests they get an insurance policy on the producer's life.

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell
Blonde Crazy (1931)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The adventures of an egoistic con man and his glamorous accomplice.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Louis Calhern
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A Parisian tailor finds himself posing as a baron in order to collect a sizeable bill from an aristocrat, only to fall in love with an aloof young princess.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Ruggles
Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Ex-convict Danny Kean decides to become honest as a photographer for a paper. He falls in love with Patricia, the daughter of the policeman who arrested him. Mr Nolan, her father, doesn't ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Bacon
Stars: James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis
Lady Killer (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A former gangster makes it big in Hollywood, but his old life catches up with him.

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Ronny Bowers, a saxophonist in Benny Goodman's band has won a talent contest an got a ten week contract with a film studio. On his first evening he is supposed to go with the studio's star ... See full summary »

Director: Busby Berkeley
Stars: Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane, Lola Lane
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Chinese warlord and an engaged Christian missionary fall in love.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori
Havana Widows (1933)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Two golddiggers go fishing for millionaires in Havana.

Director: Ray Enright
Stars: Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell, Guy Kibbee
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Chester Kent
Joan Blondell ... Nan Prescott
Ruby Keeler ... Bea Thorn
Dick Powell ... Scotty Blair
Frank McHugh ... Francis
Guy Kibbee ... Silas Gould
Ruth Donnelly ... Mrs. Harriet Gould
Hugh Herbert ... Bowers
Claire Dodd ... Vivian Rich
Gordon Westcott ... Thompson
Arthur Hohl ... Frazer
Renee Whitney ... Cynthia Kent
Barbara Rogers ... Gracie
Paul Porcasi ... Apolinaris
Philip Faversham ... Joe Grant
Edit

Storyline

Chester Kent produces musical comedies on the stage. With the beginning of the talkies era he changes to producing short musical prologues for movies. This is stressful to him, because he always needs new units and his rival is stealing his ideas. He can get an contract with a producer if he is able to stage in three days three new prologues. In spite of great problems, he does it. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Jimmy Cagney singing and dancing for the first time on the screen! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

21 October 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A rivalda fénye See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$703,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In the coming attractions trailer, the "Shanghai Lil" number is referred to, instead, as "Shanghai Nights." See more »

Goofs

Before the bus leaves for the three prologue performances the call board reads Diana Theatre 8pm, Mercury Theatre 9pm and Jupiter Theatre 10pm. They arrive at the Jupiter Theatre first and proceed in reverse order from what was written on the call board. See more »

Quotes

Chester Kent: Aw, talking pictures, it's just a fad.
See more »


Soundtracks

Lady Fair
(uncredited)
Music by Sammy Fain
Played by the theater orchestra prior to the Shanghai Lil sequence
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
This is New Jersey, not Hollywood
23 April 2006 | by krorieSee all my reviews

An opium den, a dirty little boy (actually a midget), prostitutes galore, a violent fracas in a dive, a motel for sexual shenanigans, scantily clad babes with cleavage a lot, a boozer falling down the stairs, a racially mixed clientèle in a bar with Asians, Africans, and Anglos treated equally, does this sound like a film playing at the local shopping mall? Wrong. These are all scenes from a 1933 musical.

The first half of "Footlight Parade" is preparation for a musical extravaganza which occupies the last half of the film. Chester Kent (Cagney) is about to lose his job and does lose his playgirl wife as a result of talking pictures squeezing out live stage musicals. His producers take him to see a popular talky of the day, John Wayne in "The Big Trail." Before each showing of the flick, a dance number is presented as a prologue. Shorts, news reels, serials, and cartoons would later serve the purpose. Kent gets the idea that a prologue chain would be the road to salvation for the dwindling live musical business. Kent is basically an idea man along the lines of choreographer Busby Berkeley. Could it be that Cagney's character is patterned after Berkeley? Could be.

In preparation for the prologues, Kent learns that his ideas are being stolen by a rival. He uncovers the traitor, fires him, then unbeknown to him a new leak is planted in the form a dazzling temptress. His assistant, Nan Prescott (Joan Blondell - soon to be Mrs. Dick Powell) has the hots for Kent and is determined to expose the wiles of the temptress. A new singer from Arkansas College shows up in the form of Scotty Blain (Dick Powell) who turns out to be a real find and is paired with Bea Thorn (Ruby Keeler). The resulting three prologue musicals, which couldn't possibly have been presented on any cinema stage of the day, are as fresh and enjoyable today as they were over seventy years ago, "Honeymoon Hotel," "By a Waterfall," and "Shanghai Lil."

Of special note is the song and dance of tough-guy James Cagney. Like Fred Astaire and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Cagney's dancing appeared natural and unrehearsed, although hours went into practice to get each step just right. Not as good a singer as Astaire, Cagney's singing, like Astaire's, sounded natural, unlike the crooning so popular at the time. It's amazing that one person could be so talented and so versatile as James Cagney.

Most critics prefer the "Shanghai Lil" segment over the other two. Yet the kaleidoscopic choreography of "By a Waterfall" is astonishing. How Berkeley was able to film the underwater ballets and to create the human snake chain must have been difficult because it has never been repeated. The close up shots mixed brilliantly with distant angles is a must-see. The crisp black and white photography is much more artistic than it would have been if shot in color.

Though not nearly as socially conscious as "Gold Diggers of 1933," "Footlight Parade" stands on its own as one of the most amazing and outrageous musicals ever put on the big screen.


51 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 65 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed