- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Almost forgot to mention how I loved the musical numbers (I already mentioned "Backyard fence") "Shanghai lil" with Cagney searching for Lil (Ruby) and them dancing very well together. "Honeymoon hotel" was very good with Powell and Ruby, and my favorite "Like a waterfall" with Powell, Ruby, and alot of swimming beauties, Ruby definitely being one of the beauties. Those swimming patterns were amazing. Cagney turned out to be wrong with his before the show thought "that water nymph number will empty the theater like a stenchbomb", then him saying "Every time I mess with it, I ruin it some more". I am glad he messed with it.
One of the great 5
The great 5, this film, 42nd St, Dames, Gold diggers 33, and Gold diggers 35 were all wonderful Busby Berkely films. The wonderful Ruby Keeler is part of the reason for 4 of them, and the wonderful Gloria Stewart is part of the reason for Gold diggers 35. Busby's amazing kilidoscope patterns in his musical numbers with his girls are also part of it. Each film having an additional character added also gives it great fun and energy, as in Footlight parade, it's the tough, energetic James Cagney, known from his gangster films such as Public enemy and Angels with dirty faces. Dick Powell is back to with his singing talent. In Footlight, Cagney tries to save the live show film prologues from going out of business, and throws together some of his own. Lots of good songs and beautiful singing, dancing girls. Ruby starts out in this film as a brainy secretary with glasses before Joan Blondell gives her a makeover and the now glamorous beauty wows Cagney and she is in the next scene shown dancing in her cute cat outfit dancing to (Cagney's cat inspired) Sitting on a backyard fence. I like how Cagney then says about Ruby "another good girl gone bad".
- lucius vanini
One of the greatest films of all time, and best of the Berkeley films. Fast-moving drama/comedy with a good screenplay and sub-plots, capped by the blockbuster BB vignettes "Honeymoon Hotel," "By a Waterfall" and "Shanghai Lil" with superb music and lyrics by Harren and Al Dubin respectively. Five stars from top to bottom. Every star in it great in my estimation, INCLUDING the babe whom dullards think they're being sophisticated by knocking--precious Ruby. About the only flaw is Cagney's strange avoidance of mouth-to-mouth kisses, which makes the romantic moments featuring that actor come off flat and less than convincing. Did he have inhibitions? Apart from that less than earth-shaking defect, pretty hard to overrate.
"As long as there are sidewalks...
...you've got a job." This pre code gem has it all, snappy dialogue, scantily clad girls, wise-cracking Joan Blondell, adorable Ruby Keeler, boyish Dick Powell and Cagney. Cagney could do it all, sing dance, deliver funny dialogue, embody a frightening hoodlum, be an average Joe, and make Ruby Keeler's dancing look good. More Cagney!
Awesome dancing. Cats hysterical but wonderful. Powell squeaky high pitched voice and not masculine. Keeler great dancer. Her sailor/bar dance with Jimmy just superb. Pre-code inuendoes a great window into early sound era depression era films. Joan Blondell great with her one-liners and knowing wisecracks. Witness "Miss B., I mean Miss Rich", plus "go back to the sidewalk, I'm sure they have an opening" -- or something like that dialogue. 10/10cozy
Reply to Red Rain, who couldn't understand about Ruby Keeler . Its simple. Two Words. Al Jolson. The man who saved Warner Bros. from total bankruptcy, by financing the Jazz Singer. After a few years, of Gold Digger films the public grew tired of Ruby, and Warner Bros. ran out of ideas as to what to do with her. Cant sing, Cant dance, clog dancing? ouch! Cant Act. She was surrounded by a world of Really talented people like Bette Davis, Joan Blondell Ginger Rogers and so many others. So, she saw the writing on the wall and like a few other mysterious, no talents who infiltrated the entertainment industry, then as now, called it quits. Mean, cruel, Al Jolson?, discovered and backed Abbott and Costello, Larry Fine, (Three Stooges fame) James Cagney, Joan Blondell and the list goes on. Ruby Keeler quit show business and Al Jolson, Im sure she cried all the way to the bank.
A well-made picture from choreographer Berkeley that marked his films the best musicals of the Depression-era. Cagney is a stage producer who tries to out-do his rivals and himself. The first part of the film drags too long, but when it hits those musical numbers, it's well worth the wait, surpassing the numbers from "42nd Street" and "Gold Diggers of 1933." A musical of unlimited technical achievement and imagination. I give it a 4.5/5.
I've never understood the "starring" of Ruby Keeler in anything! She was a terrible dancer and you need no proof of that other than to watch she and Cagney dancing atop the bar in this film. Cagney's legs barely move doing the steps while Keeler is literally galloping with her knees up! She sings in a high nasally voice and was horrible when pitted in duos with Dick Powell's great voice. I gave this film 4 out of 5 because of Cagney and because you just can't get a better example of Berkley's genius that "By the Waterfall." btw: Please take note of the beautiful, full-bodied real women in the skimpy bathing suits in that number! There really was a time when real women looked like that and size 2 women were turned away from film studios!
- Mark Sutch
A very young John Garfield shows up for a few seconds in the bar fight scene, just before Ruby and Jimmy start dancing on top of the bar. One of my favorites.
- Jack Colgan
This is one of the most enjoyable movie that I have ever seen. I try to watch it every time it comes on. I d have my own copy and watch it but I like to watch it when the world is watching. I enjoy the singing and dancing the most. I would give this movie four stars.
Lookin' High, Lookin' Low
Look no further for quintessential Cagney as he described himself: song and dance man. Throughout the film, his feet are just waiting for a chance to dance, and he gets several, culminating in the countertop finale number, Shanghai Lil.Dick Powell is fun in a supporting role. Ruby Keeler doesn't sing so hot, but her dancing makes you forget that...Over the top musical numbers heighten your anticipation and I imagine that the audiences went wild when, at the beginning of Shanghai Lil, the dancer is revealed to be James Cagney himself.Happy ending when Joan Blondelle ends up in Cagney's arms with a marriage proposal. Great fun watching Cagney do what he loved best.
Great music! Great dancing! Wonderful directing! This is one of my favorite films from the 1930's.
I had not seen this one but love Busby berkley and Cagney is good as usual ! Glad it was on tonight.
A new deal for musicals
Made when the New Deal was new and fertile, the chemistry between the immortals Cagney and Blondell produces three classic prologues. Berkeley pairs rapper Dick Powell in bed with newlywed Ruby Keeler at the Honeymoon Hotel. Then a supernatural Keeler and a blond aquatic assembly line are employed as geometric designs. Finally, Cagney, the producer, falls onto the stage to become a sailor and to retrieve Keeler from an opium den. Together, Keeler and Cagney merge with dozens of sailors marching in formation, who turn over a collective face card, FDR's portrait, trumping Depression and Fear Itself, as well as all those individual flaws and failings personified by the minor characters and ourselves.
This is a classic. I wish it was more well known
Another Classic with James Cagney
All I can say about this film is wow. What acting by Cagney and the dancing. The dancing. I really feel that for the type of dancing done by Cagney no one could come close. He was the most original dancer on film. Yes Astair was great but Cagney was the most original. Just watch this film and try to take your eyes off of Cagney while daning.