Film Highlights

42nd Street | Gold Diggers of 1933 | Footlight Parade | Dames

42nd Street - 1933

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42nd Street is the backstage, putting-on-a-show musical par excellence, and part of it's due to the choreography of Berkeley. With Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Bebe Daniels and more it is a delight to see. It even includes one tune by Harren Warren that is such a stinker it is thrown out of the show. A delight to view it contains many popular songs of the time and best of all it has the age old - leading lady breaks her ankle and the Ingénues gets her big break plot.

Here the stage director gives her a pep talk before she goes on.

The Gold Diggers of 1933

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Partly as a sequel to the overwhelmingly successful 42nd Street this was the first of four Gold Diggers films. Starring Powell, Keeler, Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers, and Una Merkel to name a few it was also a success.

Down and out Broadway hoofers are desperate to find work and here of a show being cast on Broadway. Even the dearest of friends in the Depression could not have done anything to get the job. The girls begin to date the shows patrons as a way to get money, but of course love prevails, everyone gets a job and the show is a tremendous hit. At left is Berkeley's opening number "We're in the Money"

Footlight Parade - 1933

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Warners hurry to get another musical on-stage resulted in Footlight Parade. Admittedly another backstage musical, the script is bright and full of witty quips and a feasible plot. The film is oddly structured however in that the last half of the film features three of Berkeley's most outstanding sequences. Including the number "By a Waterfall" in which an entire soundstage was flooded and hundreds of girls spent hours in the pool executing the outrageous geometrical configurations he is known for. At left is Berkeley at the opening of the film.

Dames - 1934

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Dames differed so little from previous Berkeley musicals that it's hard to tell you are seeing a new film. Dick Powell is a songwriter who needs a backer, Ruby Keeler is his aspiring girlfriend and Joan Blondell is her best friend who snares Guy Kibbee into putting up the money. One number " I only have eyes for you" in typical Berkeley is a dream sequence in whick Dick Powell signs and resigns the title song in a vision that includes over fifty Ruby Keeler look-alikes. The number is well over ten minutes in length and caused the songwriter Harry Warren to quip "Buzz never knew when to quit."

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