Saturday, July 9, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #12 - 42nd Street
Run Time (approximate): 89 Minutes
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon.
Produced by: Darryl F. Zanuck.
Scenarists: James Seymour, Rian James and Whitney Bolton.
Based on the novel Forty-second Street by: Bradford Ropes.
Cinematography by: Sol Polito.
Music: Al Dubin (lyrics), Harry Warren (music), Ray Heindorf (arranger), Leo F. Forbstein (conductor, Vitaphone Orchestra).
Choreography: Busby Berkeley.
Also Starring: Warner Baxter (as Julian Marsh), Bebe Daniels (as Dorothy Brock), George Brent (as Pat Denning), Ruby Keeler (as Peggy Sawyer), Guy Kibbee (as Abner Dillon), Una Merkel (as Lorraine Fleming), Ned Sparks (as Thomas Barry), Dick Powell (as Billy Lawler), Allen Jenkins (as Mac Elroy), Edward J. Nugent (as Terry Neil), Robert McWade (as Al Jones), George E. Stone (as Andy Lee);
UNCREDITED CAST: Harry Akst (as Jerry), Loretta Andrews (as Chorus Girl), Joan Barclay (as Chorus Girl), Louise Beavers (as Pansy - Dorothy's Maid), Lynn Browning (as Chorus Girl), Edna Callahan (as Chorus Girl), Maxine Cantway (as Chorus Girl), Wallis Clark (as Doctor Chadwick), Virginia Dabney (as Chorus Girl), Mildred Dixon (as Chorus Girl), Al Dubin (as 'Stout' Songwriter), Ruth Eddings (as Chorus Girl), Patricia Ellis (as Secretary), Renee Evans (as Extra on Stage), Patsy Farnum (as Chorus Girl), Dixie Francis (as Extra on Stage), June Glory (as Chorus Girl), Mary Halsey (as Chorus Girl), Shep Houghton (as Chorus Boy), Ann Hovey (as Chorus Girl), George Irving (as House Doctor), Alice Jans (as Chorus Girl), Evelyn Joice (as Chorus Girl), Gertrude Keeler (as Chorus Girl), Helen Keeler (as Chorus Girl), Tom Kennedy (as Slim Murphy), Milton Kibbee (as News Spreader), Margaret La Marr (as Chorus Girl), Jack La Rue (as Mug with Murphy), Adele Lacy (as Chorus Girl), Charles Lane (as Author of 'Pretty Lady'), Lorena Layson (as Chorus Girl), Eve Marcy (as Chorus Girl), Kermit Maynard (as Chorus Boy), Clarence Nordstrom (as Groom in 'Shuffle Off to Buffalo'), Dave O'Brien (as Chorus Boy), Dennis O'Keefe (as Chorus Boy), Agnes Ray (as Chorus Girl), Donna Mae Roberts (as Chorus Girl), Barbara Rogers (as Chorus Girl), Cliff Saum (as Dimmer Board Operator), Rolfe Sedan (as Extra on Stage), Harry Seymour (as Aide), Jayne Shadduck (as Chorus Girl), The Sizzlers (as The Singing Policemen), Lyle Talbot (as Trailer Narrator (voice)), Grace Tobin (as Chorus Girl), The Village Barn Hill Billies (as Themselves), Henry B. Walthall (as Concerned Actor), Harry Warren (as 'Short' Songwriter), Dorothy Coonan Wellman (as Chorus Girl), Dorothy White (as Chorus Girl), Renee Whitney (as Chorus Girl), Pat Wing (as Chorus Girl), Toby Wing (as Blonde in 'Young and Healthy').
Ginger's Character: Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 6 Minutes and 30 Seconds (7.3% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" (two stanzas with Una Merkel); a few lines of "It Must Be June", without much feeling..."...what do ya want me to do, bite my nails?"
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 9.0 - The MOST Sassy Ginger has been to this point of her career, and some awesome (but short) scenes - Una Merkel plays a great 'bud' for Ginger's Annie, and together they reel off some VERY neat moments.
Film Quality (1-10): 9.0 - Warner Brothers did a great job of restoration of the 'film that saved them'.
Available From: Warner DVD, TCM also airs it pretty regularly.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Ginger's first movie of 1933 was definitely not her last of 1933 - she made at least nine that year (the release dates-production dates vary a bit). But as far as 'overall movies' go, this one was the best of the bunch - yes, better than Gold Diggers of 1933 and Flying Down to Rio (both of which, of course, have their 'watershed' Ginger moments...).
Ginger's portrayal of 'Anytime Annie' Lowell is by far her most 'animated' role to date, as she has a wisecracking confidence about her that just jumps off the screen. In her first moments at the 'casting call', she hurls that classic retort to an uppity 'chorus prospect': "It must have been hard on your mother, not having any children". This alone is fair warning that Annie will prove to be a defining role for Miss Rogers.
The story itself is pretty familiar, as a Broadway production company headed by Thomas Barry (Ned Sparks) gets bankrolled by fat cat Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee) to produce a new musical, to be handled by the famous director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter). Dillon's 'ulterior motive' (isn't that always the case?) for ponying up the clams is to 'create' a vehicle for his sweetie, actress Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). SOOOOO, the casting call is on, and we meet multiple prospects, including 'newbie' Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler), 'juvenile lead' Billy Lawler (Dick Powell), and 'sidekick to Annie' Lorraine Fleming (Una Merkel). Ginger and Una really work well together, and they honestly should have been paired up in a few more films...
Well, there's always a fly in the ointment, so to speak, and this circus has its version in the form of Pat Denning (George Brent); his back story has Miss Brock figuring VERY prominently in it, to the point of his hanging around outside the stage door to meet up with her...she still has feelings for him as well, and they crank their relationship back up, as best they can without Sugar Daddy Dillon finding out.
Of course, with Dorothy favoring Pat, she ends up 'cold shouldering' Abner, to the point of having a 'falling out' with him - in a drunken stupor, Abner declares he wants Dorothy out of the show, or he pulls his backing and goes back to the barn. Ironically, Dorothy busts up her ankle while 'scuffling' with Abner, and is sidelined for the opening night in Philly.
Julian Marsh patches things up with Mr. Dillon and his dead presidents (well, a few were still cooking back in the 30's, I guess), and keeps the show afloat...financially, anyway. But who is to fill Dorothy's spot in the title role? Well, Annie jumps on Abner when she finds out Dorothy is on the outs with him (well, no doubt Annie was 'upwardly mobile'!) - and, she talks Daddy A into letting her take the lead role... but when she meets with Marsh, she pulls the ol' "bait and switch" and endorses Peggy for the role instead... of course, Marsh takes her up on the suggestion, and the rest, they say, is history.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, there's just not really ANY moments that aren't awesome regarding Ginger, so...let's just plow through the screen caps, shall we?
...that's not a real line from the song, but I just made it up...you know, one of those "11:30 P.M." epiphanies... but I think Ginger would like it, no?
"She got her movie start in Young Man of Manhattan, and though she had plenty of movie work after that, her career didn't seem to be getting anywhere - until Forty-Second Street came along. She popped a monocle in her eye and ran off with the show, along with Ruby Keeler." - Movie Classic
"Ginger Rogers is cute as a chorus girl who affects an English accent and a monocle. Una Merkel is quite funny as another chorus girl." - New York Sun
"One may wish that it were funnier and not quite so conventional as to story without overlooking the quiet charm of Miss Ruby Keeler, the attractive playing of Miss Bebe Daniels and the nonchalant gayety of Miss Ginger Rogers...Miss Rogers, in a minor role, is both amusing and attractive." - New York Herald Tribune
"Guy Kibbee, Una Merkel, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers are all swell." - Modern Screen
From GINGER: My Story: "As Annie, I assumed a broad accent and wore a monocle. The monocle was my idea, and it caught the public's eye. 42nd Street remains one of the great Hollywood "backstage" musicals, and I was part of it because I listened to Mervyn (LeRoy's) good counsel. My one beef concerning 42nd Street has to do with its effect on the subsequent interpretation of my career. Reporters who do little research about my background often refer to me as a former chorus girl. I haven't anything against chorus girls and I wouldn't mind if that were the reality, but 'tain't true!"
--- The film was nominated for Best Picture of 1933, but lost to Cavalcade.
--- (From my Ma): Don Hewlitt, the executive producer of 60 Minutes for years, said he remembers going to see 42nd Street at the theater as a boy and wanting to grow up to be just like Julian Marsh, a great Broadway producer.
--- Ruby Keeler made her film debut.
--- Ginger's beau Mervyn LeRoy was originally tapped to direct the movie, but illness forced him to decline, and thus Lloyd Bacon stepped in - who just happened to have directed Ginger in her previous film, You Said a Mouthful.
--- Henry B. Walthall, who was the "Concerned Actor" when Peggy Sawyer passed out during rehearsals, originally had a larger role, which apparently culminated in his character dying on the rehearsal stage; however, most of his scenes were cut from the final film.
--- Warner Brothers sent an actual train they dubbed 'The 42nd Street Special' from Hollywood to New York City, having loaded it with many of their contract players to appear on stage after the movie premiered at the Strand Theater on March 8, 1933; these stars included Joe E. Brown, Tom Mix (and his horse), Bette Davis, Laura Le Plante, Glenda Farrell, Lyle Talbot (the only one here that actually had anything to do with the movie), Leo Carrillo, Claire Dodd, Preston Foster, and Eleanor Helm.
--- The finale (42nd Street) includes a 'street scene' with one of the stores named Reticker's; This was a reference to Hugh Reticker, Warner Brother's art director since its inception; Reticker was not credited for any of his work (most likely including the art/scenery for this movie), until a few years after 42nd Street.
--- Ginger's main competition for the role of Annie was Joan Blondell, who, strangely enough, co-stars with Ginger in the next two films on the list, Broadway Bad (for Fox) and Gold Diggers of 1933 (for Warner Brothers / Vitaphone).
--- The opening credits copyrights the film for 1933 (MCMXXXIII), but the closing credits state it as being made in 1932 (MCMXXXII).
--- IMDb notes that a digitally restored AND colorized version of the movie was recently released.
--- A Broadway musicial of the movie premiered on August 25, 1980; it ran for 3,486 performances, good for tenth longest running show on Broadway; It also won the 1981 Tony Award for Best Musical.
GingerFilm Ranking: #1
After Twelve Reviews:
#01 - 42nd Street
#02 - The Tenderfoot
#03 - The Tip-Off
#04 - Queen High
#05 - Young Man of Manhattan
#06 - You Said A Mouthful
#07 - Carnival Boat
#08 - The Thirteenth Guest
#09 - The Sap From Syracuse
#10 - Suicide Fleet
#11 - Follow The Leader
#12 - Honor Among Lovers
#13 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Broadway Bad - Starring Joan Blondell and Ginger Rogers as chorus girls (there's that typecasting again...sorry, Ginger) who are best buds; Joan's character has a child and a fat cat hubby, but is worried the child will be affected by his carousing ways..so she wants to break away from him, and somehow balance her career with being a mama as well... with some drastic turns along the way. It seems like Ginger is on the periphery in this one, so it might not fare all that well on the Ging-o-meter... but we shall see.