Footlight Parade (1933)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The last--and to some aficionados, the best--of choreographer Busby Berkeley's three Warner Bros. efforts of 1933, Footlight Parade stars James Cagney as a Broadway musical comedy producer. Cagney is unceremoniously put out of business when talking pictures arrive. To keep his head above water, Jimmy hits upon a swell idea: he'll stage musical "prologues" for movie theatres, then ship them out to the various picture palaces in New York. Halfway through the picture, Cagney is obliged to assemble three mammoth prologues and present them back-to-back in three different theatres. There are all sorts of backstage intrigues, not the least of which concerns the predatory hijinks of gold-digger Claire Dodd and the covetous misbehavior of Cagney's ex-wife Renee Whitney. Joan Blondell plays Jimmy's faithful girl-friday, who loves him from afar; Ruby Keeler is the secretary who takes off her glasses and is instantly transformed into a glamorous stage star; Dick Powell is the "protege" of wealthy Ruth Donnelly, who makes good despite this handicap; Frank McHugh is Cagney's assistant, who spends all his time moaning "It'll never work"; and Hugh Herbert is a self-righteous censor, who ends up in a censurable position. The last half-hour of Footlight Parade is a nonstop display of Busby Berkeley at his most spectacular: the three big production numbers, all written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, are "By a Waterfall", "Honeymoon Hotel", and "Shanghai Lil", the latter featuring some delicious pre-code scatology, a tap-dance duet by Cagney and Keeler, and an out-of-left-field climactic salute to FDR and the NRA!
Classics , Comedy , Musical & Performing Arts , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros.

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James Cagney
as Chester Kent
Dick Powell
as Scotty Blair
Joan Blondell
as Nan Prescott
Ruby Keeler
as Bea Thorn
Guy Kibbee
as Silas Gould
Ruth Donnelly
as Harriet Bowers Gould
Claire Dodd
as Vivian Rich
Hugh Herbert
as Charlie Bowers
Frank McHugh
as Francis
Arthur Hohl
as Al Frazer
Gordon Westcott
as Harry Thompson
Renee Whitney
as Cynthia Kent
Philip Faversham
as Joe Farrington
Juliet Ware
as Miss Smythe
Herman Bing
as Fralick, the music director
Paul Porcasi
as George Appolinaris
John Garfield
as Sailor Behind Table
Billy Taft
as Specialty dancer
Marjean Rogers
as Chorus girl
Pat Wing
as Chorus girl
Donna La Barr
as Chorus Girl
Marlo Dwyer
as Chorus girl
Donna Mae Roberts
as Chorus girl
George Chandler
as Drugstore attendant
Hobart Cavanaugh
as Title Thinker Upper
Lee Moran
as Mac, the Dance Director
Billy Barty
as Mouse in "Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" Number
Harry Seymour
as Joe/Desk Clerk
Sam McDaniel
as Porter
Fred Kelsey
as Hotel Detective
Roger Gray
as Sailor-Pal in "Shanghai Lil" Number
Duke York
as Sailor on Table in "Shanghai Lil" Number
Dave O'Brien
as Chorus boy
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Critic Reviews for Footlight Parade

All Critics (9)

It's the third successful teaming of choreographer Busby Berkeley with stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler.

Full Review… | May 6, 2013
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

generates laughs at a criminal rate

December 8, 2005

Not the best of the Berkeley Warner musicals, but close.

July 21, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Quote not available.

December 6, 2007

Quote not available.

October 4, 2005
Boulder Weekly

Quote not available.

July 2, 2005

Audience Reviews for Footlight Parade

The music is nice, but nothing is quite memorable. I was visually impressed by the water musical sequence with the swimmers, which is the best thing about the film. Aside from that it's not something I would watch again. (First and only viewing - 6/30/2010)

Adam R
Adam R

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 Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Everybody is full of boundless energy and the musical numbers are truly awesome.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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