1933 / USA / 89 min. / B&W
Director: Lloyd Bacon & Busby Berkeley (Musical Numbers)
Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, Ruby Keeler, George Brent, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers
We close with one of Hollywood’s great musicals – well, the choreography is by Busby Berkeley and Ginger Rogers is one of the hoofers, so what do you expect? And, back then, musicals also had to work as films not just whimsy, spectacle or whimsical spectacle. They had to have plot, dialogue, acting etc. – just like regular films. Put it this way: in 2105 will my successor, writing the copy for Season 109, be telling everyone that we’re closing with that great cinematic triumph, La La Land? Exactly. Yes, the narrative premise behind 42nd Street – Broadway producers putting on a show hit financial problems while the romantic entanglements of cast members get entangled and then the Gangsters move in – is hardly groundbreaking; but it’s done with such style and aplomb that you’re willingly swept along. The film was made bang in the middle of the Great Depression so with every cent counting, films had to be worth the punters’ limited resources. And it was – they flocked in their thousands, some for the music, some for dancing, some for the comedy and all of them for the pure foot-tapping entertainment. It’s a real skill effecting dream-away escapism while ensuring your audience keeps at least one foot in reality.
As our season finale this film will start 7:30pm and a hot supper will be served in the interval.