Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oscar Movie Review: "42nd Street" (1933)

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Movie"42nd Street"
Year Nominated: 1934
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

A wealthy backer with a personal interest in theater star Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels) bank rolls a musical as a showcase for her. Despite many obstacles, including Dorothy having a secret boyfriend, director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) will do whatever it takes to make sure the show goes on.

The Academy Award nominated "42nd Street" is all about what it takes to put on a musical play, from hirings and firings, to injuries and secret romances, from production to opening night. This movie proves that even back in the 1930's, actors love and gravitate towards movies about actors. "42nd Street" is all about what goes on behind-the-scenes, all of the hard work, sweat, tears, and preparation that goes on when it comes to getting ready for a show. In with most movies similar to this one, there's a lot of conflict and back-biting going on between the actors and actresses who are involved in the production. There is a lot of competition and bitterness as people compete for the same parts, and this certainly shows in scenes displaying auditions. These auditions showcase the frustration, rivalry, and effort that comes from trying to be an actor/singer/dancer in a musical play. Here, however, there are no clear heroes or obvious villains. Each of the individual characters in this movie have their attributes and flaws. There are a couple of arguments, and the director of the play, Julian Marsh, played by Warner Baxter, often takes things a little too far to ensure his production is not jeopardized.

"42nd Street" is primarily a comedy with a lot of witty banter as characters take verbal digs at each other, though this is usually done in a playful manner. There is a musical aspect, but it really doesn't show up until the last portion of the film when the production finally gets to perform the musical they have been preparing up until that point. The final musical numbers are actually quite entertaining and filled with some beautiful sets and camera work, especially considering this movie was made in 1933. The songs are catchy and fun and never feel tedious, and the dance sequences are still wonderful even by today's standards. There are a lot of solid performances from Bebe Daniels, the veteran actress named Dorothy Brock; Warner Baxter, the finicky, on-edge director of the production Julian Marsh, who has to make this play a hit or leave the stage forever; Ruby Keeler, the inexperienced newcomer simply trying to get noticed; Abner Dillon, the wealthy financial backer of the production played by Guy Kibbee; Ginger Rogers, who plays "Anytime Annie" and is guaranteed a spot in the production because of her relationship with the play's dance director; and many more. Even though this movie is over 80 years old, it remains very entertaining and charming, too.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Maltese Falcon"

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