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I never tire of watching 42nd Street. It is fully deserving of its iconic status; snappy dialogue which still holds up after so many years, a great performance by Warner Baxter; and singing and dancing which may be dated, but remain entertaining. The only part of this film which I find to be substandard (although I guess at this point it may have become part of the charm of the movie) is the incredibly bad acting of Ruby Keeler. It seems to be more glaring when contrasted with the fine performances of just about everyone else in the film. There is one scene where Baxter is trying to teach Keeler to speak her lines with more emotion, and he rolls his eyes at her attempts. Although this is taking place within the story; it always looks to me as if he is critiquing her acting in the film itself. All the same, a true classic.

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I would agree that Keeler is a little unpolished but, like you said, it has become one of the charming elements in the film. She is certainly more interesting to watch in black and white than a more polished, slick performer like Esther Williams in Technicolor.

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Definitely Warner Baxter's finest hour. I've always thought him a bit of a ham, but he was perfectly suited to the role of the neurotic showman, probably because of the natural extroverted qualities of the character.

 

By the way, Eddie Nugent, who played nasty chorus boy Terry, disappeared from pictures in 1937 and went into theater and radio. He can be heard as part of the 1942 stock company of THE LONE RANGER and later on THIS IS YOUR FBI.

 

Of course, another chorus boy, Dave O'Brien, went on to fall all over MGM studios!!

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Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this old gem. But the thing that always bothers me about it is the "show" they work so hard to put on doesn't seem to BE about anything! I know it's largely inconsequential to the main story, but STILL...

 

 

I resented this Hader dude or whatever his name is, going on about Busby Berkley's choreography during the intro, and not mentioning the classic songs by Dubin and Warren. Busby to me has always been a "one trick pony".

 

 

And WHO was that eye-popping blonde Powell sings to wearing the fur trim? WOW!!

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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{font:Times New Roman}When I think of “pre-code” films it’s usually heavy drama or risqué comedy, not musicals, but this is right up there with them. The spicy lyrics of Young and Healthy or Shuffle Off to Buffalo would never have gotten by the Hayes/Breen office just a few years later and some of the costumes were equally racy. How this ended up on *Essentials Jr.* escapes me except for it being part of Ginger Rogers’ day. Kitty Foyle, controversial as it was, would have been less eyebrow rising. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie but an M-G-M family film it wasn’t.{font}

 

 

{font:Times New Roman}And, yes, I like Bill Hader as a host. His comments always seen off the cuff even though we know they’re not. {font}

 

 

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> {quote:title=Stephen44 wrote:}{quote}I would agree that Keeler is a little unpolished but, like you said, it has become one of the charming elements in the film. She is certainly more interesting to watch in black and white than a more polished, slick performer like Esther Williams in Technicolor.

She was a great dancer, but personally I've always found her very dull to watch.

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I would agree insofar as her film career was concerned. Although to be fair, she did get much better in time. But she was a star on Broadway, so she probably had great personal charisma. There were other stars on Broadway who never were able to transfer that ability to connect with a live audience to the screen.

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AFAIC those three 1933 Berkeleys are the absolute zenith of Hollywood musicals. So much pizazz, so many great characters, so many highlights:

 

*42nd Street:*

 

 

"Getta load of Minnie the Mountaineer"

 

 

"That's Anytime Annie - The only time she ever said "no", she didn't hear the question"

 

 

"Must have been tough on your mother, not having any children"

 

 

"Call me Abner"

 

 

The title song sequence

 

 

And the great closing scene, with poor Julian Marsh sucking the life out of a cigarette while he listens to all the exiting playgoers' comments about how "anyone" could have put together a play like that. That was up there with the final moments of I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang and Marked Woman for sheer poignancy.

 

 

*Gold Diggers of 1933*

 

 

Ginger singing "We're In The Money" in pig latin

 

 

And that "Remember My Forgotten Man" sequence with the unfolding of the FDR image at the end

 

 

*Footlight Parade*

 

 

Cagney and Keeler's "Shanghai Lil" finale. Has there EVER been a more glorious sequence in ANY musical ever?

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