42nd Street


D: Lloyd Bacon

Warner Bros (Darryl F. Zanuck)

US 🇺🇸 1933

89 mins

Musical / Comedy

W: Rian James & James Seymour [based on the novel by Bradford Ropes]

DP: Sol Polito

Ed: Thomas Pratt & Frank Ware

Mus: Harry Warren; Al Dubin

Warner Baxter (Julian Marsh), Bebe Daniels (Dorothy Brock), Ruby Keeler (Peggy Sawyer), George Brent (Pat Denning), Guy Kibbee (Abner Dillon), Una Merkel (Lorraine Fleming), Ginger Rogers (Ann Lowell)

They’re putting on a show, and what a show it is. This pre-code musical comedy is a golden great and true classic of 1930’s cinema.

An ensemble piece with all the characters given depth and plenty to do. Warner Baxter is the top-billed star, playing a Broadway director who is hired to helm a show-stopping extravaganza by a sugar-daddy millionaire, simply so his love interest is given the lead, but when she becomes ill a night before the premiere, a chaste chorus girl is given her chance to shine in her place.

Retrospectively, the film does seem quite archetypal and clichéd, but this was the original big budget musical that laid down the stencil for its imitators to follow.

Though known predominantly as a musical, the film is a self-aware comedy for the most part, with the musical numbers interspersed during the rehearsal scenes and the razzmatazz final act.

Obviously, the mannerisms and dialogue are dated by modern standards, but this is a wonderful time portal and one of the very best movies of its kind.


42nd Street
42nd Street