35mm print!

Footlight Parade


In Footlight Parade, James Cagney stars as a Broadway producer on his way out due to the Depression-era public’s preference for talking pictures over stage musicals.  And even worse, competitors keep stealing his best comeback concepts!

Footlight Parade is a gem … it has some of the most deliriously dazzling choreography and feats of visual bravado you may ever see in a motion picture, with enough moments of over-the-top excess that you can sometimes hardly believe what you’re seeing.” – Pre-Code.com

Of course, this being a 1930s musical, Cagney comes up with an ingenious (and borderline insane) idea to save his career: producing live “prologues” – short stage musicals – which can precede films in the larger movie houses.   Hoping to land a big contract, and with no time to prepare, he and his troupe (including Joan Blondell as Cagney’s faithful Girl Friday, Ruby Keeler as a dowdy secretary who takes off her glasses and is instantly transformed into a glamorous star, and Dick Powell as an eager young “protégé” of older woman Ruth Donnelley) devise and present three new massive production numbers at three different theatres … all on the same night!  A fast-paced, entertainingly biting commentary on fickle audiences and the looming dominance of cinema over stage, Footlight Parade features a knockout performance from Cagney in his first singing and dancing screen role, not to mention such racy pre-Code Busby Berkeley-directed fantasies as the innuendo-heavy Honeymoon Hotel,  the staggering, spectacular By a Waterfall, featuring a bevy of geometrically-arranged bathing beauties romping in an Art Deco swimming pool, and the unbelievable Shanghai Lil, which somehow incorporates a tap-dance duet by Cagney and Keeler, scandalous scatological references and an opium den! (Dir. by Lloyd Bacon, 1933, USA, 104 mins, Not Rated)