“Aw, talking pictures — it’s just a fad.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that while the movie is “great fun”, it “would be [a] touch better if [the] screenwriters had simply put in a few lines about how the success of the… numbers is as important to the welfare of the dancers and singers (who need jobs!) as it is to Cagney’s peace of mind” — a point which doesn’t bother me personally, given that Warner Brothers’ other two musicals released the same year (42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933) both did an admirable job covering that sociological base. Peary goes on to write that “with the plot out of the way, Busby Berkeley stages three of his greatest, most innovative, and sexiest musical numbers, back to back: ‘Honeymoon Hotel’, ‘By a Waterfall’ (with the chorines, shot from above, creating amazing patterns in the water), and ‘Shanghai Lil’.” Indeed, it’s Berkeley’s concluding masterpieces that constitute the film’s primary calling card — but the storyline itself remains a fun (if occasionally convoluted) backstage drama about an interesting historical topic (trailers have long since replaced live prologues), and it features fine performances by all involved.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)