|Directed by||Lloyd Bacon|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Based on||42nd Street|
by Bradford Ropes
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$2.3 million|
42nd Street is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon, and a script by Rian James and James Seymour (plus uncredited contributions by Whitney Bolton), adapted from the 1932 novel of the same name by Bradford Ropes. Starring an ensemble cast of Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers, the film revolved around the rehearsals of a Broadway show at the height of the Great Depression, and its cast and crew. The film was choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin.
This backstage musical was very successful at the box office and is now considered a classic by many. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1998, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2006, it ranked 13th on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals. A stage adaption of the film debuted on Broadway in 1980, winning two Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
It is 1932, the depth of the Great Depression, and noted Broadway producers Jones and Barry are putting on Pretty Lady, a musical starring Dorothy Brock. She is involved with wealthy Abner Dillon, the show's "angel" (financial backer), but while she is busy keeping him both hooked and at arm's length, she is secretly seeing her old vaudeville partner, out-of-work Pat Denning.
Julian Marsh is hired to direct, although his doctor warns that he risks his life if he continues in his high-pressure profession. Despite a long string of successes he's broke, a result of the 1929 Stock Market Crash, so he must make his last show a hit, in order to have enough money to retire.
Cast selection and rehearsals begin amidst fierce competition, with not a few "casting couch" innuendos flying around. Naïve newcomer Peggy Sawyer, who arrives in New York from her home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is duped and ignored until two experienced chorines, Lorraine Fleming and Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell, take her under their wing. Lorraine is assured a job because of her relationship with dance director Andy Lee; she also sees to it that Ann and Peggy are chosen. The show's juvenile lead, Billy Lawler, takes an immediate liking to Peggy, as does Pat.
When Marsh learns about Dorothy's relationship with Pat, he sends some thugs led by his gangster friend Slim Murphy to rough him up. That, plus her realization that their situation is unhealthy, makes Dorothy and Pat agree not to see each other for a while. He gets a stock job in Philadelphia.
Rehearsals continue for five weeks, to Marsh's complete dissatisfaction, until the night before the show's opening in Philadelphia, when Dorothy breaks her ankle. By the next morning, Abner has quarreled with her and wants Marsh to replace her with his new girlfriend, Annie. Annie confesses in earnest that she can't carry the show, but convinces the director that the inexperienced Peggy can. With 200 jobs and his future riding on the outcome, a desperate Julian rehearses Peggy mercilessly until an hour before the premiere, vowing "I'll either have a live leading lady or a dead chorus girl."
Billy finally gets up the nerve to tell Peggy he loves her. They embrace and kiss, just as Dorothy shows up and walks through the door. Surprisingly, she wishes Peggy the best of luck and reveals that she and Pat are finally getting married. The show goes on to rousing applause. The last twenty minutes of the film are devoted to three Busby Berkeley production numbers: "Shuffle Off to Buffalo", "(I'm) Young and Healthy", and "42nd Street".
The show is a hit. As the theater audience comes out, Julian stands in the shadows outside the stage door, hearing comments that Peggy is the star and that he, the director, doesn't deserve the credit for the show's success.
In the original Bradford Ropes novel, Julian and Billy are lovers. Since same-sex relationships were unacceptable in films by the moral standards of the era, the studio substituted a romance between Billy and Peggy. Although in one scene a gay innuendo is presented, as director Marsh puts his arm over choreographer Andy Lee's shoulder and asks if he has a date for the evening, who replies "No." Immediately Marsh replies, "Come on home with me will you? I'm lonesome."
The film's uncredited cast includes Harry Akst as Jerry, Adele Lacy as a chorus girl,Guy Kibbee's brother Milton, Louise Beavers, Lyle Talbot, George Irving and Charles Lane. Dubin and Warren, who wrote the film's songs, make cameo appearances.
The film was Ruby Keeler's first, and the first time that Berkeley, Warren and Dubin had worked for Warner Bros. Director Lloyd Bacon was not the first choice to direct – he replaced Mervyn LeRoy when LeRoy became ill. LeRoy was dating Ginger Rogers at the time, and had suggested to her that she take the role of "Anytime Annie".
Actors who were considered for lead roles when the film was being cast include Warren William and Richard Barthelmess for the role of Julian Marsh, eventually played by Warner Baxter; Kay Francis and Ruth Chatterton instead of Bebe Daniels for the role of Dorothy Brock; Loretta Young as Peggy Sawyer instead of Ruby Keeler; Joan Blondell instead of Ginger Rogers for Anytime Annie; Glenda Farrell for the role of Lorraine, played by Una Merkel, and Frank McHugh instead of the diminutive George E. Stone as Andy, the dance director.
The film began production on October 5, 1932. The shooting schedule ran for 28 days at the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, California. The total cost of making it has been estimated to be $340,000–$439,000.
All songs have music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin.
The "Love Theme", written by Harry Warren, is played under scenes between Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, and Bebe Daniels and George Brent. It has no title or lyrics, and is unpublished.
The music playing during dance rehearsals and the opening of the show is an instrumental piano piece that Harry Warren wrote, titled "Pretty Lady."
A special patter with different music was written for the song "Forty-Second Street" and the production number of same, with music by Warren and lyrics by Dubin. It was cut for unknown reasons from the finished film, but an unpublished manuscript of this still exists.
Though the songs of 42nd Street all allude to sex, there is a single moment at the end of "Shuffle Off to Buffalo", when one word of the scripted lyrics, "belly", was changed to "tummy" presumedly to comply with the then weakly enforced Motion Picture Production Code of 1930. But in making the change, the filmmakers purposely drew attention to the censored word. During the last two verses, Una Merkel & Ginger Rogers sing about a traveling salesman who impregnates the farmer's daughter, and then is forced into a shotgun wedding. The lyric as scripted is: "He did right by little Nellie, with a shotgun in his belly..."But as Ginger sings it, Una gestures to her and she changes the last word: "He did right by little Nellie, with a shotgun in his bel - - tummy".
The film premiered in New York on March 9, 1933 at the Strand Theatre, and went into general release two days later, becoming one of the most profitable ones of the year, bringing in an estimated gross of $2,300,000, equal to $45,982,262 today. It received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Sound Recording, and was named one of the 10 Best Films of 1933 by Film Daily .
Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called the film "invariably entertaining" and, "The liveliest and one of the most tuneful screen musical comedies that has come out of Hollywood".
The New York World-Telegram described it as "A sprightly entertainment, combining, as it did, a plausible enough story of back-stage life, some excellent musical numbers and dance routines and a cast of players that are considerably above the average found in screen musicals."
"Every element is professional and convincing", wrote Variety . "It'll socko the screen musical fans with the same degree that Metro's pioneering screen musicals did."
John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "a bright movie" with "as pretty a little fantasy of Broadway as you may hope to see", and praised Baxter's performance as "one of the best he has given us", though he described the plot as "the most conventional one to be found in such doings."
Critic Pauline Kael wrote, "(It) gave life to the clichés that have kept parodists happy."
According to Warner Bros. records, the film earned $1,438,000 domestically and $843,000 abroad.
In 1980, the film was adapted into a stage musical by Harry Warren and Al Dublin. It featured additional songs by Warren and lyrics by Dublin and Johnny Mercer and a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. The original broadway production directed and choreographed by Gower Champion won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Since then, it has been produced both regionally and professionally around the world. The soundtrack included all musical numbers from the film besides "June."
|Award||Date of |
|Academy Awards||March 16, 1934||Best Picture||Lloyd Bacon||| style="background: #FDD; color: black; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="no table-no2"|Nominated|
|Best Sound||Nathan Levinson||| style="background: #FDD; color: black; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="no table-no2"|Nominated|
American Film Institute recognition
Footlight Parade is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell and featuring Frank McHugh, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert and Ruth Donnelly. The film was written by Manuel Seff and James Seymour based on a story by Robert Lord and Peter Milne, and was directed by Lloyd Bacon, with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. The film's songs were written by Harry Warren (music), Al Dubin (lyrics), Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics), and include "By a Waterfall", "Honeymoon Hotel" and "Shanghai Lil".
This is a list of notable events in music that took place in the year 1933.
The following is an overview of 1933 in film, including significant events, a list of films released, and notable births and deaths.
Ethel Ruby Keeler was a Canadian-American actress, dancer, and singer known for her on-screen pairing with Dick Powell in a string of successful early musicals at Warner Brothers, particularly 42nd Street (1933). From 1928 to 1940, she was married to actor and singer Al Jolson. She retired from show business in the 1940s, but made a widely publicized comeback on Broadway in 1971.
Alexander Dubin was an American lyricist. He is best known for his collaborations with the composer Harry Warren.
A chorus line is a large group of dancers who together perform synchronized routines, usually in musical theatre. Sometimes, singing is also performed.
Dames is a 1934 Warner Bros. musical comedy film directed by Ray Enright with dance numbers created by Busby Berkeley. The film stars Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, ZaSu Pitts, and Hugh Herbert. Production numbers and songs include "When You Were a Smile on Your Mother's Lips ", "The Girl at the Ironing Board", "I Only Have Eyes for You", "Dames" and "Try to See It My Way".
42nd Street is a musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit. The show was produced in London in 1984 and its 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.
Gold Diggers of 1933 is a pre-Code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It stars Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell, and features Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks and Ginger Rogers.
Gold Diggers of 1935 is an American musical film directed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, and starring Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart and Alice Brady. Winifred Shaw, Hugh Herbert and Glenda Farrell are also featured. The songs were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics). The film is best known for its famous "Lullaby of Broadway" production number. That song also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
"You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me" is a 1932 popular song with music by Harry Warren and the lyrics by Al Dubin, which became a standard. The lyrics of the song were noted for its references to addiction.
"The Gold Diggers' Song " is a song from the 1933 Warner Bros. film Gold Diggers of 1933, sung in the opening sequence by Ginger Rogers and chorus. The entire song is never performed in the 1933 movie, though it introduces the film in the opening scene. Later in the movie, the tune is heard off stage in rehearsal as the director continues a discussion on camera about other matters.
Twenty Million Sweethearts is a 1934 American Pre-Code musical comedy film directed by Ray Enright and starring Pat O'Brien, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, and The Mills Brothers. The film was remade in 1949 as My Dream Is Yours.
"42nd Street" is the title song from the 1933 Warner Bros. backstage musical film 42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. The song was published in 1932. It is the finale of the film, where it was sung by Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and ensemble. It was used again in 1980 when the film was adapted as a long-running Broadway musical. In 2004 the song placed #97 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of the top tunes in American cinema.
Gold Diggers of 1937 is a Warner Bros. movie musical directed by Lloyd Bacon with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. The film stars Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, who were married at the time, with Glenda Farrell and Victor Moore.
Colleen is a 1936 Warner Bros. romantic–musical film directed by Alfred E. Green. It stars Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, and Joan Blondell.
Go into Your Dance is a 1935 American musical film starring Al Jolson, Ruby Keeler, and Glenda Farrell. The film was directed by Archie Mayo and is based on the novel of the same name by Bradford Ropes. It was released by Warner Bros. on April 20, 1935. An irresponsible Broadway star gets mixed up with gambling and gangsters.
The Hard Way is a 1943 Warner Bros. musical drama film directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Ida Lupino. The film was based on a story by Irwin Shaw which was reportedly based on Ginger Rogers' relationship with her first husband, Jack Pepper and her own mother, Lela.
"Shuffle Off to Buffalo" is a song written by Al Dubin and Harry Warren and introduced in the 1933 musical film 42nd Street, in which Ruby Keeler and Clarence Nordstrom sang and danced to it. Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, and Chorus. also performed it in the film.
The Ginger Rogers filmography lists the film appearances of American actress Ginger Rogers, as well as her television, stage, and radio credits. Rogers's career spanned fifty-seven years, from 1930 to 1987.
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