FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) B/W 104m dir: Lloyd Bacon
w/James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Guy Kibee, Ruth Donnelly, Claire Dodd, Hugh Herbert, Frank McHugh, Arthur Hohl
An immensely entertaining backstage musical whose straight sequences are every bit as entertaining as the musical segments. With his fabulous flying feet, Cagney stars as a producer specializing in creating live stage shows to be featured between films at double features.
From The Movie Guide: "Following its success with the blockbuster backstage musicals 42ND STREET and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, Warner Bros. launched this lavish production, with Cagney marvelous in the lead. ...
"Seemingly schizophrenic in form, with a gritty, backstage saga yielding to three flights of Busby Berkeley fantasy, FOOTLIGHT PARADE is actually an amazing cultural index of the Depression. All the wisecracking, all the struggle, all the buildup find a remarkable payoff when the film shifts gears into la-la land. The 'Honeymoon Hotel' number is standard risque fare, but 'By a Waterfall,' with Berkeley doing a 'wet run' for his later Esther Williams spectaculars, is an astounding surrealistic kaleidoscope. 'Shanghai Lil,' meanwhile, adds a Warner Bros. toughness to Paramount's Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich in SHANGHAI EXPRESS) of the year before.
"Cagney is in great acting, comic and dancing form throughout and Blondell, as [his] devoted secretary, proves that she has few peers at wisecracking or conveying low-key warmth. A great supporting cast and Bacon's well-judged direction help make FOOTLIGHT PARADE one of the greatest of the Berkeley extravaganzas."