Here is the 6th Instalment of my 100 Days of Old Movies. I'm powering towards the finishing line!
51 & 52: 42nd Street (1933)
Come and meet those dancing feet. On the avenue I'm taking you to, 42nd Street.
I have a very soft spot for 42nd Street. It was (along with Singin' in the Rain) the first musical I ever bought, as a poor-quality unremastered VHS. I was 12, and had never really seen anything in black and white before, but obviously I have never looked back!
Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) is putting on a show. The doctors warn that it will kill him, but he's broke. He's a great director, and everyone is very excited at the prospect of work. His star is Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels), a big-time performer who has to play up to Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee) who is financing the show because she is starring in it. Behind his back, she still goes around with her boyfriend and ex-vaudeville partner Pat Denning (George Brent). Wondering where Ruby and Dick come in? Ruby is Peggy Sawyer, a first-time performer who gets a job in the chorus, helped by Billy Lawler (Dick Powell) the juvenile in the show. He thinks she's pretty cute. One day she passes out after a gruelling rehearsal, and is looked after by Pat Denning, who's hanging around the stage door. When Dorothy is stuck with Abner, he takes Peggy out to dinner instead, and she witnesses him being beaten up by gangsters hired by Marsh to keep him away from Dorothy (the finances are at stake). When the show goes to Philadelphia for tryouts Pat is already there for a job, and Dorothy (after embarrassing herself getting drunk at a party) rings him up to come to the hotel, and Peggy sees the gangsters follow him, and rushes in to warn him. Still drunk, Dorothy takes a swing at her, falls over and breaks her ankle. Oh no! Right before opening night, and there's no understudy! Abner picks Anytime Annie (Ginger Rogers) to take her place, but she knows she hasn't got it in her. Peggy is the girl. She's coached all day, goes on stage to the immortal line 'you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!' and steals the show.
There are lots of fabulous Busby Berkely routines in here, and Una Merkel and Ginger Rogers for wisecracks. What's not to love?
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