42nd Street

1933, Musical/Comedy, 1h 29m

25 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Bubsy Berkeley does it again in 42nd Street, a brilliant depression-era romp with stellar musical numbers and impeccable choreography. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When revered Broadway director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) falls on hard times with both his health and his finances, he helms an ambitious musical as a final production before his retirement. His lead actress, Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels), is torn between two loves--the show's wealthy backer, Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee), and the earnest but penniless actor Pat Denning (George Brent) --while aspiring young performer Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) waits in the wings, hoping for her big break.

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Critic Reviews for 42nd Street

Audience Reviews for 42nd Street

  • Jun 09, 2014
    With jokes that are dated for today's standards and a silly, unconvincing plot that basically invented the backstage clichés, this musical is worth it only for Busby Berkeley's spectacular choreography and astonishing production numbers that could never take place on a theater stage.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 11, 2012
    A film that looks at what goes on behind the stage, the editing was amazing, that represented the era well. The songs were catchy and well written, the dialogues were amazing written too. Bebe Daniels was amazingly beautiful. The specially arranged choreography was a highlight. It has a well blended themes of romantic comedy and musical, loved it!!
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • May 16, 2012
    Released the same year as "Gold Diggers of 1933", "42nd Street" also features many of the same cast (Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler) and the same choreographer (Busby Berkeley, famous for his overhead shots of geometrically arranged chorus dancers). The plot too, is sort of similar. In it, we see the trials and tribulations of producing a broadway musical, from funding and casting to the opening night, and all the hair-pulling frustration that comes with it. Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) is the greener than green wannabe actress who shows up for the audition and is tricked into walking in on Billy's (Dick Powell) dressing room (also, Billy plays what is called "the juvenile lead", whatever that is). While it's a dirty trick, it winds up paying off for Peggy as she soon makes friends with Billy and the rest of the stars of the production. The closing number is pretty great, and the rest of the movie is too, with it's self-deprecating humor and depression era sensibilities. It's funny, but Ruby Keeler has the mannerisms of someone's grandma, but you gotta figure even grandmas were young once upon a time, back in the days when grandpas got excited at a peak at a pretty girl's knee.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 31, 2010
    Spicey for the Depression era 30's, this gorgeously made musical is like none other ever performed. Use of forward thinking cinematography, an uncensored storyline, and musical numbers that inspire choreographers to this day, made this a very unique musical among the stereotyped genre. An amazing performance by the docile and demure Ruby Keeler, whose singing is so-so, but dancing is off the charts amazing. A web of romantic entanglements and decidely backwards Broadway politics leads to comedy. love, and pure entertainment.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer

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