#TBT Film Rec: 42nd Street

The joyous, almost buoyant Depression-era musical maintainsChorus girls of 42nd Street its charm with rapid-fire wit, sometimes jarringly frank innuendo, and a generous dose of aesthetically and industrially significant Hollywood history.

In 42nd Street (1933), newbie “hoofer” Peggy (Ruby Keeler)–that’s 30s speak for tap-dancer, got me?–breaks her way into the chorus line of a Broadway production.  In between grueling rehearsals, she learns the varieties of backstage romance from the well-intentioned to the gold-digging with a few others in-between. Her character’s story as a young gal adapting to life in the Big City is paralleled by a plot concerning threats to the financial future of the show and the secret affair of its female star.  These plots converge when Peggy becomes a last minute replacement for the lead and must push herself to discover what she’s made of.

As a “backstage musical” 42nd Street‘s musical numbers occur within the confines of putting on a show rather than the any-minute-now-someone-might-break-into-song type that many non-musical theater types find off-putting.  It’s also a Warner Brother’s picture, the studio whose brand was films for “the working man” and also included the original cycle of Hollywood gangster pictures.  (Yes: this explains how Jimmy Cagney of Public Enemy (1931) was also famous for his tap dancing a la Footlight Parade (1933): WB had him under contract for the bulk of his career.) Continue reading #TBT Film Rec: 42nd Street

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Criterion Collection on Hulu

English: en: Grauman's Chinese Theatre, photog...

Criterion Collection on Hulu

If you’re frustrated with the relatively low-grade streaming selection on Netflix, you might want to grab a hulu subscription.  The site is now featuring access to 700 films in the Criterion Collection–an incredible mix of foreign and Hollywood classics from the highbrow to the B’s. 

For Valentine’s Day: A Pick-up Line circa 1933

“I’m young and healthy, and you’ve got charm…”

Truly one of the great pick-up lines.  Ever.

So thanks, Busby Berkeley.  And thanks, too, for that  “top” made entirely out of a single fox fur.  Berkeley’s body-shot heavy production numbers are always a great reminder of how racy Hollywood was  before it got tame (and then got racy again).   This one also testifies that long before he helped turn Ronald Reagan into a Republican, Dick Powell was quite the song and dance man.  Sexy all around.