WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28 AT 7:30PM | REGULAR ADMISSION PRICES
The film that inaugurated Busby Berkeley’s sensationally successful career with Warner Brothers and established him as one the major figures in Hollywood musicals, 42nd Street is a brassy, sassy, bona fide classic, setting the tone for the many 1930s “backstage musicals” which followed.
“The film that practically invented every backstage musical cliché we know today … remains a remarkable achievement for a film over seven decades old.” – John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
Walter Baxter plays a Broadway producer with one last opportunity to put on a hit show, but his chances are compromised by his tempestuous star (Bebe Daniels), who is having an affair with the show’s major funder. After an unfortunate turn of events, he is forced to call upon “a real little trouper” (Ruby Keeler) to save the show. Packed with the gritty urban atmosphere and hip, contemporary dialogue that was a hallmark of most Warner Brothers films in the ‘30s, this surprise smash hit (co-starring Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers and George Brent) established a string of showbiz musical clichés (the hard-nosed Broadway director literally dying for a new hit; the egotistical star who breaks an ankle; the plucky young understudy who becomes a star on opening night; etc.), and introduced movie audiences to Berkeley’s breathtakingly inventive choreography, which here was paired with such catchy tunes as Shuffle Off to Buffalo (staged inside a Pullman railway carriage), You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me, the much-imitated Young and Healthy (a major reference point for The Big Lebowski’s infamous musical dream sequence), and the rousing 42nd Street, featuring an incredible, hallucinatory dancing Manhattan skyline. (Dir. by Lloyd Bacon, 1933, USA, 89 mins., Not Rated)