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42nd Street (1933)

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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

Writers:

Rian James (screen play), James Seymour (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Warner Baxter ... Julian Marsh
Bebe Daniels ... Dorothy Brock
George Brent ... Pat Denning
Ruby Keeler ... Peggy Sawyer
Guy Kibbee ... Abner Dillon
Una Merkel ... Lorraine Fleming
Ginger Rogers ... Ann Lowell
Ned Sparks ... Thomas Barry
Dick Powell ... Billy Lawler
Allen Jenkins ... Mac Elroy
Edward J. Nugent ... Terry
Robert McWade ... Jones
George E. Stone ... Andy Lee
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

OK. Say, Jones and Barry are doin' a show! - That's great. Jones and Barry are doin' a show.


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 March 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Forty-Second Street See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$439,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,300,000
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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was so financially successful that it saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

A digitally restored and colorized version was recently released. See more »

Connections

Edited into Mame (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Forty-Second Street
(1932) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Music by Harry Warren
Played during the opening credits and often in the score
Sung and Danced by Ruby Keeler
Sung by Dick Powell and chorus girls
See more »

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User Reviews

 
the movie that created the clichés
16 March 2006 | by storyguySee all my reviews

Most of the negative comments posted below seem to be from people who either just don't like musicals or who are unaware that all the "cliches" in this movie were essentially invented by "42nd Street." It's sort of like complaining that Shakespeare is full of quotations. This movie is absolutely brilliant, which is why it's been imitated endlessly for the last seven decades.

Sure, Keeler's not the end-all of tap dancing, but she fits the bill as an ingénue and is generally amiable and perky. The plot is predictable, but only because we've seen it duplicated so often. If you hadn't seen the same sort of thing a million times, you'd notice that it's tightly assembled and even somewhat suspenseful. The show is full of first-rate comic asides, even if some of the material is dated by obsolete slang and contemporary pop culture references.

And do people still take the trouble to complain that Busby Berkeley's dance numbers couldn't have been seen properly by the audience in the theater? That's like complaining that an ape couldn't really grow to be as large as King Kong. The whole point is that it's a movie, and Berkeley is able to do things that can't happen in the real world. Hence the transformation of background settings while the camera is close up on an actress's face. There isn't even such a thing as a close-up in a stage production. Carping that a '30's musical isn't realistic enough is like complaining that Venus couldn't actually have been born out of a clamshell.

In any case, this is one of the great '30s musicals... and one of the great Hollywood movies of all time. If you don't like the genre, then so be it. It always amazes me that so many film fans strongly prefer "Singin' in the Rain" to such predecessors as "42nd Street," "Dames," "Top Hat," "Swing Time," etc., when "Singin' in the Rain" is simply an homage to the '30s musical and generates quite little fresh material of its own. Mind you, it's a brilliantly executed homage, and it arguably benefits from its overt tongue-in-cheek attitude, but I can't help thinking many are simply swayed by the fact that it's in color (really good Technicolor) and has clearer sound quality than its '30s predecessors. Either way, you need to see and appreciate the original movie musicals before you can really understand what "Singin' in the Rain" was about... just as you should see some Hong Kong action flicks and blacksploitation films to get what's going on in "Pulp Fiction."

But I digress. See "42nd Street," and try to keep an open mind. Just because it's old is not a reason to assume that the people who made it didn't know their business extremely well.


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