42nd Street (1933)
42nd Street is a 1933 American Warner Bros. musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon with choreography by Busby Berkeley. The songs were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), and the script was written by Rian James and James Seymour, with Whitney Bolton (uncredited), from the novel by Bradford Ropes.
The film is a lively backstage musical, and was very successful at the box office. Many decades later, in 1980, it was made into a hit Broadway stage musical with the same name.
42nd Street was Ruby Keeler’s first film, and the first time that choreographer Busby Berkeley and songwriters Harry Warren and Al Dubin had worked for Warner Bros. Director Lloyd Bacon was not the first choice to direct — he replaced Mervyn LeRoy when LeRoy became ill. LeRoy was dating Ginger Rogers at the time, and had suggested to her that she take the role of “Anytime Annie”.
Actors who were considered for lead roles when the movie was being cast include Warren William and Richard Barthelmess for the role of “Julian Marsh”, eventually played by Warner Baxter; Kay Francis and Ruth Chatterton instead of Bebe Daniels for the role of “Dorothy Brock”; Loretta Young as “Peggy Sawyer” instead of Ruby Keeler; Joan Blondell instead of Ginger Rogers for “Anytime Annie”; Glenda Farrell for the role of Lorraine, played by Una Merkel, and Frank McHugh instead of the dimuitive George E. Stone as Andy, the dance director.
42nd Street began production on 5 October 1932 and shot for 28 days at the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, California. The total cost of making the film has been estimated to be $340,000-$439,000.
The film premiered in New York on 9 March 1933 at the Strand Theatre, and went into general release two days later, becoming one of the most profitable films of the year, bringing in an estimated gross of $2,300,000. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Sound Recording for Nathan Levinson, and was named one of the 10 Best Films of 1933 by Film Daily. 42nd Street was also voted the 13th best movie musical of all time by the American Film Institute.
Trailer, from TCM.com – The trailer touts the film as “the sensation of the moment…stars, girls, beauty, and talent in lavish quantities…in scenes never before attempted on stage or screen…one of the most dramatic stories ever screened, Glorious! Thrilling! and Unforgettable.”
You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me (Harry Warren, Al Dubin) – performed by Bebe Daniels, as Dorothy, accompanied by Harry Akst on piano.
Above: An early 30s portrait of Ruby Keeler; below: two stills and a screen shot from the film 42nd Street
Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!
Matrimony is baloney
She’ll be wanting alimony
In a year or so
Still they go and shuffle
Shuffle off to Buffalo
When she knows as much as we know
She’ll be on her way to Reno
While he still has dough
She’ll give him the shuffle
When they’re back from Buffalo
Shuffle Off to Buffalo (Warren, Dubin) – sung and danced by Ruby Keeler and Clarence Nordstrom, with Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel and the chorus.
(above) A young and very healthy Toby Wing in 1932
(Below) Young and Healthy (m. Harry Warren, w. Al Dubin) — This number is a Busby Berkeley choreographed dance sequence which is sung by Dick Powell (to Toby Wing) backed by a mixed chorus, and danced by a mixed chorus.
If I could hate ya
I’d stay stay away
But that ain’t my nature
I’m full of vitamin A, say…
Slow-motion clips from the number in the film are here backed by the Kinks recording of “Young and Innocent Days” (Ray Davies), from their 1969 album Arthur.
Ginger Rogers as Ann “Anytime Annie” Lowell affecting a British accent: “I really had a charming summer in Deauville, dear.”
- Billy: Say, I know so. And I’m for you too, you know that. Even if…
- Peggy: Even if what?
- Billy: Aw, honey, I’ve been for you ever since the day you walked in on me in my BVDs. I wanted to tell you, ever since I first saw you, how I feel about you, but, oh, I don’t know how to say it. But you know what I mean, don’t you? (Peggy coyly shakes her head that she doesn’t know) I guess it does sound kind of funny at that the way I say it. But the lines are new for me, at least off-stage.
- Peggy: Well, I guess maybe I can read between the lines, Billy, but I want to hear you say some more. (They hug and passionately kiss) Billy, it was grand of you to come.
Ruby Keeler, two promotional shots for 42nd Street
42nd Street (Warren, Dubin) – the final number in the 1933 film 42nd Street, introduced by Ruby Keeler (singing and dancing). Dick Powell sings a short lead-in to the ensemble dance finale.
(above) Toby Wing and Ruby Keeler (bottom left) sit among others whom I haven’t identified, likely uncredited chorus girls. This costume is worn by a large group of chorines in the final dance segment of the number “42nd Street.”
(Below) A still, and a couple of photos of dancers from 42nd Street