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42nd Street (1933)

aka 42nd Street

Details: 89 mins · English


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Small Julian Marsh
Small Dorothy Brock
Small Pat Denning
Small Peggy
Small Abner Dillon
Small Lorraine Fleming
Small Ann 'Anytime Annie' Lowell
Small Barry
Small Billy Lawler
Small Mac Elroy
Small Terry
No_movie_poster Jones
Small Andy Lee


No_movie_poster Hal B. Wallis Producer
Small Darryl F. Zanuck Producer
No_movie_poster Sol Polito Director of Photography
Small Lloyd Bacon Director
No_movie_poster Bradford Ropes Novel
No_movie_poster Rian James Screenplay
No_movie_poster James Seymour Screenplay
No_movie_poster Whitney Bolton Screenplay
No_movie_poster Thomas Pratt Editor
No_movie_poster Frank Ware Editor
Small Busby Berkeley Director
No_movie_poster Frank Ware Editing
No_movie_poster Thomas Pratt Editing


It is 1932, during the early days of the Depression, and noted Broadway producers Jones (Robert McWade) and Barry (Ned Sparks) are putting on Pretty Lady, a musical starring Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). Dorothy is involved with wealthy Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee), who is the show's "angel" (financial backer). But while she is busy keeping Dillon both hooked and at arm's length, Dorothy is also secretly seeing her old vaudeville partner, the out-of-work Pat Denning (George Brent).

Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter), who is the best, is hired to direct. His doctor warns him he risks another nervous breakdown or even his life if he continues on his high-pressure profession. Despite his long success, however, Marsh is broke as a result of the 1929 Stock Market Crash. He must make his last show a major hit and financial success if he is to have enough money to retire on.

Cast selection and rehearsals begin amidst fierce competition, with not a few "casting couch" innuendos flying around. Naïve newcomer Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler), who arrives in New York from her home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is duped and ignored until two experienced chorines, Lorraine Fleming (Una Merkel) and Ann "Anytime Annie" Lowell (Ginger Rogers), take her under their wing. Lorraine is assured a job because of her relationship with dance director Andy Lee (George E. Stone); she also sees to it that Ann and Peggy are chosen. The show's juvenile lead, Billy Lawler (Dick Powell), takes an immediate liking to Peggy, as does Pat.

When Marsh learns about Dorothy's relationship with Pat, he sends some thugs to rough him up. That plus Dorothy's realization that their situation is unhealthy makes Pat agree to break up; he gets a job in Philadelphia.

Rehearsals continue for five weeks to Marsh's complete dissatisfaction, until the night before the show's opening in Philadelphia, when Brock fractures her ankle. Next morning, Dillon, having quarreled with Dorothy, wants Marsh to replace her with his new girlfriend, Annie. Annie, however, tells Marsh that she cannot carry the show, but the inexperienced Peggy can. With 200 jobs and his future riding on the outcome, a desperate Marsh rehearses Sawyer mercilessly (vowing "I'll either have a live leading lady or a dead chorus girl") until an hour before the premiere.

Billy finally gets up the nerve to tell Peggy he loves her; she enthusiastically kisses him. Then Dorothy shows up and wishes Peggy luck, telling her that she and Pat are getting married. The show goes on. Nearly twenty minutes are devoted to three Busby Berkeley production numbers: "Shuffle Off to Buffalo", "Keep Young and Healthy", and "42nd Street". Pretty Lady is a hit.

In the original Bradford Ropes novel, Julian Marsh and Billy Lawler are lovers. Since this sort of relationship was deemed unacceptable to audiences of the era, a romance was created for Billy and Peggy.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1933-03-11 : United States of America

DVD : 2006-03-21