Review: ‘42nd Street’

Everything about the production rings true. It's as authentic to the initiate as the novitiate.

Everything about the production rings true. It’s as authentic to the initiate as the novitiate.

There are good performances by Warner Baxter, as the neurotic showman who whips Pretty Lady into a hit musical comedy, and Bebe Daniels in a not particularly sympathetic assignment as the outmoded musical comedy ingenue whose unrequited association with a sap kiddie car manufacturer angels the production. [Script is based on the novel by Bradford Ropes.]

Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers, as a pair of dumb and not-so chorines, are types. George E. Stone, as the dance stager, is likewise a believable reflection of the type. Harry Akst is the piano rehearser, and Al Dubin and Harry Warren, who fashioned the film’s song ditties, play themselves.

Ruby Keeler, as the unknown who comes through and registers a hit, is utterly convincing.

Not the least of the total belongs to the direction by Lloyd Bacon, who fashioned some novelties in presentation, with Busby Berkeley an excellent aide on the terp mountings. The same overhead style of camera angles, which Berkeley introduced in the Eddie Cantor pictures and elsewhere, are further advanced.

1932/33: Nominations: Best Picture, Sound

42nd Street


Warner. Director Lloyd Bacon, Busby Berkeley; Screenplay James Seymour, Rian James; Camera Sol Polito; Editor Thomas Pratt, Frank Ware; Music Leo F. Forbstein (dir.); Art Director Jack Okey


(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1933. Running time: 89 MIN.


Warner Baxter Bebe Daniels George Brent Ruby Keeler Guy Kibbee Ginger Rogers
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