Footlight Parade (1933)
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If 1933's Footlight Parade is a musical, it really makes you wait for it, only dribbling out a short number somewhere in the middle and showing some rehearsal shenanigans for the length of two acts. But as a fast-talking comedy about James Cagney going mad trying to put on a dozen shows simultaneously so theater can stay afloat in the wake of talky moving pictures' popularity (and cost efficiency), with a couple of romantic subplots thrown in, it's pretty fun. The main cast - Cagney, Blondell, Keeler and Powell - are well supported by amusing eccentrics like the easily-convinced boss, and the movie's MVP, the miserable, pessimistic dance choreographer. It coasts on its frenetic energy and then the third act hits. Three, back-to-back, and totally impossible musical numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley, one of which must surely be the best water-based musical number of all time. I can't even. And for pre-Code enthusiasts (of whose number I count myself) will be keen on the sheer amount of innuendo throughout (including in the musical numbers, though the word innuendo is perhaps too soft for it).
In my opinion, much better than 42nd Street.
The first hour or so of this is pretty forgettable - it's all about the 3 finale setpieces, which are just spectacular. CGI could never create anything as awesome as Busby Berkeley!
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In 5 official lists
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This movie ranks #24 in BFI's 100 Film Musicals
This movie ranks #34 in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese
This movie ranks #73 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #82 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #348 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life