Starring: Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Sometimes called the grandmother of all musicals, this film was a huge success, not just due to the fabulous cast and toe tapping songs, but also as the vehicle that launched Busby Berkeley. He became famous for his wonderful set pieces of women dancing in synchronised patterns and shapes, with elaborate sets, that focused on fetishising the female form.
It’s the story of a girl (Keeler) who heads to New York with big dreams, and is plucked from the chorus line by the demanding director when the lead breaks her ankle. With everyone relying on her, can she carry the show and live her dream? Of course, there’s romance and song and dance along the way, as well as wise cracking show girls, and other character types that have become stock over the years, but with it’s big sets and beautiful dances, it’s a real showstopping original.
I love the elaborate sets and dances. Watching this film, I felt like I was stepping into another world. Not so much the world of the theatre back stage, but one full of light and lavish dreams. Released in the 1930’s, this film and others like it, would have been a ray of hope in the Great Depression, and it really does lift the spirits now too.
See It If: you’ve never seen a classic musical, this is a really great one to watch. I know a lot of people don’t like musicals and dance movies, but it’s got heart.