Watched: August 27 2016
Director: Lloyd Bacon & Busby Berkeley (choreography)
Starring: Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Bebe Daniels, George Brent
Runtime: 1h 29min
Second musical on the list, and we have a new favourite choreographer. Luckily for us, there are several Busby Berkeley films on the list so we have a lot to look forward to.
The plot isn’t the most inventive, but it works. We follow several people involved in the production of a stage musical as they battle financial problems, heart conditions, the problems faced by chorus girls (which are many), romantic complications and gangster thugs.
Inexperienced chorus girl Peggy (Keeler) is helped by two lovely and catty colleagues to get her first job in new musical Pretty Lady. However, the star’s dalliance with a former vaudeville co-star (Dot and Pat – Daniels and Brent, respectively) threatens the financial situation of the show as the main backer is basically Dot’s sugar-daddy.
The night before the opening, Dot breaks her ankle and Peggy has to step in as the leading lady. The last 30 minutes or so of the film are dedicated to Berkeley’s spectacular stagings of the numbers “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” “I’m Young and Healthy” and “42nd Street,” all of which are completely incredible to watch.
As for the plot of Pretty Lady, the musical-within-the-film, we have no idea. Suffice to say, it involves a Niagara Falls honeymoon, a girl juggling several guys, lots and lots of legs, and Gandhi. Your guess is as good as ours.
We loved this one. The outfits! The comebacks! The cattiness! The tremendous amount of legs! The three main chorus girls! The choreography! The camera work! We cannot use enough exclamation points to describe our love.
What we learned: we are officially in love with Busby Berkeley. How can we not have known about this man before?
Next time: Duck Soup (1933)