Footlight Parade 1933

Footlight Parade

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 11

83%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,215

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Movie Info

Motion pictures may have put Broadway director Chester Kent (James Cagney) out of a job, but he quickly finds a second career producing musical sequences for the movies. Unfortunately, a cutthroat competitor keeps stealing his ideas. That cannot happen on his next commission, a rush job for a big-time theater chain. If his work impresses, it'll lead to an exclusive contract. Chester has only three days, but with the help of his smitten secretary, Nan (Joan Blondell), he just might pull it off.

Cast & Crew

James Cagney
Chester Kent
Joan Blondell
Nan Prescott
Dick Powell
Scotty Blair
Guy Kibbee
Silas Gould
Ruth Donnelly
Harriet Bowers Gould
Hugh Herbert
Charlie Bowers
Frank McHugh
Francis, dance director
Sammy Fain
Original Music
Irving Kahal
Original Music
Harry Warren
Original Music
Walter Donaldson
Writer
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Critic Reviews for Footlight Parade

All Critics (11) | Fresh (11)

Audience Reviews for Footlight Parade

  • Sep 06, 2020
    Occupies a strange space between pure fantasy and a realistic portrait of the daily work of show business. Cagney gives remarkably complex performance given how silly the whole thing is.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2019
    It's the middle of the Depression. How to hustle the rubes into giving up their few nickels and dimes and into the seats of your theaters? You give 'em what they want, that's how, maybe something even they don't know what, that's how. What do they want? Well, the ladies want romance and the guys want sex. Only they don't want to know that you know that that's what they want, so ya gotta give it to 'em without them knowing yer giving it to 'em, right when yer giving it to 'em. So ya give 'em a movie, now get this, it's a hot one, about how you figure out how to do it, and that's when you give it to 'em. It's a hoot. Delivered with a smile.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2016
    This is a fantastic film that saves its best for last. It starts off as a good Cagney-Blondell pairing, with him playing a theater producer whose job is in trouble with the advent of "talkies", and her playing his hardworking, intelligent secretary. It ends with a couple of absolutely STUNNING musical numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley - 'By a Waterfall' and 'Shanghai Lil'. The sets are spectacular, as are the visual effects Berkeley creates with overhead camera shots - just have a look on youtube. Cagney is a delight to watch in his film, which has him in a role different from his usual gangster typecasting. He's marvelously light on his feet, both when he shows performers how it's done early in the movie, and then later when he 'fills in' for a guy who has had too much to drink to perform 'Shanghai Lil', which is set in a Chinese den of iniquity. The banter and comedy throughout the movie keeps it entertaining, with the exception of Hugh Herbert, who's in a whiny, annoying role. There's also lots of 1933 eye candy here, with dancer's legs, skimpy outfits, and bathing suits abounding, helped along by the movie being pre-Code. Related to that and as a small side note, I thought it was funny to see Claire Dodd, wide-eyed, reading a book called "Naughty Stories" with a vamp on the cover. As for the other leads, Dick Powell is not my favorite but he's passable, and Ruby Keeler is a joy, playing a cute secretary who transforms into a performer. There are some cringe-inducing moments, including Keeler as an Asian woman during 'Shanghai Lil, singing some broken English lyrics which may make you think of the cliché 'me love you long time' (one of the actual lines: "I miss you very much, a long time, I think that you no love me still"). Earlier in the film, Cagney will brainstorm for themes in his musicals and hit upon one with "African slaves" (after other wacky ideas, e.g. "Frankenstein"), and later, after seeing a bunch of African-American kids playing in the water from a fire hydrant, he'll quip "That's what [we] need - a modern waterfall splashing on beautiful white bodies." You have to forgive the film for those transgressions, which are relatively small for the time period. Overall - very entertaining and an absolute blast in some places, with Cagney and Berkeley turning in outstanding work. Great film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2009
    fun and funny musical with cagney and dick powell. mindblowing busby berkeley numbers in the second half. the last one includes an opium den. also i think joan blondell called claire dodd a bitch :O
    Stella D Super Reviewer

Footlight Parade Quotes

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