Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts
James Cagney channels Busby Berkeley (who choreographs the stunning, kaleidoscopic dance routines) as a Broadway director who comes up with a scheme to break into movies through, well, stunning, kaleidoscopic dance routine... more »
Similarly Requested DVDs
Cagney the Hoofer
Mike Leone | Houston, TX, United States | 10/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Cagney is of course best known for his sympathetic, even lovable, gangster in such films as Public Enemy and White Heat (well, he is not quite so lovable in the latter). What is less well known is that he shone in a variety of other kinds of roles during his long career, up to and including Shakespeare's Bottom.One of the genres in which Cagney was most successful was the movie musical. Later in his career, he was even able to combine his talents by playing gangsters in musicals such as Love Me or Leave Me and Never Steal Anything Small. Probably the best of his musicals, though, was 1933's Footlight Parade. As Chester Kent, producer of live musical prologues to films during the early days of the "talkies," he dances and sings, and in typical Cagney fashion also gives the impression of being in at least five places at once. This despite having to contend with a dishonest competitor, a couple of even more dishonest colleagues, a grasping ex-wife, a nervous director ready to have a breakdown at every turn, and constantly increasing demands on his time.Cagney is more than ably assisted by a superb supporting cast: Joan Blondell as the (of course) hard-boiled secretary who is secretly in love with him, Ruby Keeler as the shy office assistant who blossoms when returning to the stage, Dick Powell as the romantic leading tenor of the prologues, Frank McHugh in a sterling performance as the flamboyant yet thoroughly masculine director, and Claire Dodd as Blondell's scheming sister who sets her sights on Cagney. Such a fine cast assures that the energy level of the film never flags.However, the real raison d'etre of Footlight Parade are the four big Busby Berkeley musical numbers: "Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" which appears in rehearsal halfway through the film, and the three prologues, "Honeymoon Hotel," "By a Waterfall" and "Shanghai Lil," which paradoxically appear at the end of it. Ruby Keeler, a great dancer, a little less talented as a singer, appears in all four of the numbers, and Dick Powell in the first three. Cagney steps into "Shanghai Lil" at the last second, replacing a frightened and drunken leading man, and so of course we are in for the fistfight that is a feature of almost every film Cagney ever made. The four musical numbers are all delightful, and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite from among the four; probably whichever one I am watching at the moment.The overriding quality of Footlight Parade is its irrepressible energy, fueled first and foremost by the young Cagney, with the rest of the cast following in quick order. A fun and, to say the least, very invigorating way to spend a couple of hours."
The classic pre-Code musical
Usonian33 | United States | 12/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Many people now consider this the best of the major Warner/Busby Berkeley films (the others: GOLD DIGGERS OF 33, 35 & 37, 42ND STREET, FASHIONS OF 1934, IN CALIENTE, DAMES, WONDER BAR). I have to agree. The non-musical segments are as good as the production numbers. This is an amazing showcase for Joan Blondell and James Cagney, whose rapid fire 30's dialogue is something to behold. The script is still funny, and quite racy as well ("I've met miss Bit....I mean RICH before").
George Feltenstein at Warners has promised a Busby Berkeley boxed set DVD in 2005. Lets hope this film gets some sort of restoration, and that they maybe throw on Berkeley numbers from lesser films (VARSITY SHOW, THE SINGING MARINE) as extras."
Martin Chorich | San Carlos, CA United States | 05/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When people think of Busby Berkeley movies, The Goldiggers of 1933 and 1935 plus 42nd Street top the list. This picture tends to get overlooked, but I have NEVER seen anything as transcendently wacko as the By A Waterfall number. It helps that this was one of the last precode musicals, but if you think that sex was invented in 1963, you have not seen Berkeley's lizard brain- generated Fugue on a Theme by Sigmund Freud. It's truly impossible to describe, but I fantasized about Leni and Joe catching this picture in a screening room at UFA and deciding that this would have to be the benchmark for next year's picture about the Nuremberg rally. Other highlights in the picture include Jimmy Cagney blasting his way with explosive energy, Joan Blondell making a case as one of the unfrairly forgotten screen presences of the 1930s and of course the Honeymoon Hotel and Shanghai Lil sequences, These would rate as oustanding in their own rights, but have the misfortune of being in the same picture as Waterfall.Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler are an interesting case. Keeler is a kind of depression glass artifact of the movies. People loved her for her inadequacies. Powell would have gone down in movie history as a somewhat de-testosteroned romantic tenor until he turned in a Philip Marlowe performance ten years later that surpassed Bogart playing the same character. It's strange, but my memories of the later role shadow and add depth to the earlier operetta work, lending his sappy crooning about gushing liquids and embowerment at the honeymoon hotel a latent menace.OK, so why not 5 stars? The first hour of the picture is watchable, but suffers from the structural risk that the film took in staging all of the musical numbers in the last half hour. See the first hour once, and you need not see it again. Although the Turner VHS print is quite good, a decent transfer to DVD would be a most excellent thing. But I guarantee that the final sequences will make even the most jaded movie goer spit out their popcorn in astonishment."
Well worth the viewing.
John L. Theakston | NY United States | 08/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"FOOTLIGHT PARADE is the last of the great Warner Brothers musical "trilogy" of 1933 along with 42ND STREET and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. In my opinion, it is the best of the series, and grossing in over $700,000 (a staggering amount for depression era films), apparently the viewers of 1933 found it to be a real treat as well.Chester Kent (James Cagney) is a down-and-out-of-luck stage producer when he finds himself out of a job (ironically, via motion pictures). To make matters worse, his wife leaves him and his agents (Guy Kibbee and Arthur Hohl) don't need him anymore. All of this in the first five minutes of the film!Kent gets a breakthrough idea: putting on one pre-picture prologue may cost a bundle, but if you tour the country with that one prologue, it will pay for itself practically! Soon, he has an entire establishment including his right hand gal Nan (Joan Blondell), stenographer turned tap dancer Bea Thorne (Ruby Keeler), a singing college romeo Scotty (Dick Powell), a hypochondriac director (Frank McHugh) and a mischievous censor (Hugh Herbert). All of this in the next ten minutes of the film!!After a while, the company starts to really take off, that is until Kent gets a little competition that steals his ideas. Suddenly, a grand chain deal worth tens of thousands arrives, and three shows to be produced in three days. Add on top of that some romantic interest and you've got a real crowd pleaser. Could anyone else but Warner Brothers pull it off? I think not.The main numbers in this film, all Al Dubin/Harry Warren or Sammy Fain/Irving Kahal, which means quality. The first couple of numbers ("Ah, The Moon is Here" and "Sittin' On a Backyard Fence") are toe-tappers, but fall a little flat. Busby Berkely's genius direction isn't realized until the final three numbers: "Honeymoon Hotel", a romp through a hotel specializing in newlywed sweets, filled with dozens of scantilly clad women, "By A Waterfall", a kaleidoscopic synchronized swimming number complete with a 50,000 gallon-per-minute waterfall (all on a Broadway stage, I might add) and the real show-stopper, "Shanghai Lil", in which Jimmy Cagney tap-dances the pants off of Ruby Keeler.The pacing as one might assume from this review is extremely fast, which makes multiple viewing of this film enjoyable. Lloyd Bacon was known well as a director that believed in fast pacing, and this leaves lines filled with pre-code gems that can be picked up on later screenings of the film.Almost every part is cast perfectly, with some of the best selection being that of Dick Powell as the carooning college boy, aiming for Ruby Keeler's affection (and vice-versa), Frank McHugh as a nervous, cigar chewing director, and Hugh Herbert as a jittery brother of a backer/state censor. Paul Porcasi has a funny role as a theater owner with a chronic case of indigestion. Also look for two cameos by Billy Barty as a mouse in the Kitten number and as a child in the Honeymoon Hotel number.The quality of Warner's VHS video edition is quite top notch. Film elements are quite good, although a little rough near reel changes, and the Vitaphone soundtrack is also clear and clean, except for the occasional edit marks which can be heard when there is little dialogue or background sound. Since it's in black and white, it's a bit clearer than a color film, and there's no problems that you could run into on that level.I would personally love to see this released as a DVD edition, which it just may, but if you're out to see this, buy this one as soon as you can."