Monday, October 19, 2009

Footlight Parade (1933)

I just decided I could write a blog about a James Cagney movie that I watched recently but not for the first time, so I decided to do a blog about the 1933 James Cagney movie Footlight Parade. Yes, yes, yes, I know I'm supposed to watch White Heat, but I'll get to that later. Anyway, Footlight Parade is one of the prime examples of James Cagney's musical talents, next to Yankee Doodle Dandy and one of Busby Berkeley's masterpieces. It is a backstage story like 42nd Street and has Pre-Code humor. It is probably the only Busby Berkeley film with a major, charismatic actor (James Cagney; Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler aren't really major actors). James Cagney is so fun to watch in this film as he deals with the recent divorce with his wife and working under pressure to come up with prologues for movie theaters (I'm not very familiar with movie theater prologues snce I'm from a much younger generation). In this film, Cagney showed audiences that he was a hoofer (yes, I'm surprised I know that word too) as well as a gangster, that he shouldn't be typecast as a gangster and that his versatility should be put to good use.

I really loved the humorously fast-paced (probably wouldn't be good for a Marx Brothers movie) backstage plot that precedes the famous Busby Berkeley musical numbers—my favorite number among them is "Shanghai Lil" because that's the one where you get to see Jimmy Cagney dance and hear him sing, and that's a real treat—especially the scene where Frank McHugh choreographs the dancers in the cat number while copying the moves of a real cat, literally. I also love the scene where Joan Blondell has a catfight with Cagney's love interest. By the way, Joan Blondell is just fabulous as James Cagney's secretary who loves him but he doesn't know it, especially when he falls for a old rival of hers. (I know how that feels. I've had that happened to me in my 19 years of life.) I was really amazed by the spectacular "By a Waterfall' water sequence the first time I saw the movie. I read somewhere that the sequence was done in a pool that took up an entire soundstage, with actual water slides on the side (the water was pumped by technicians during shooting) and was lined with glass on the sides and floor. Still, I see no reason watching the sequence whenever I watch the film because for one thing, there is no James Cagney, and for another thing, it's too long. I would recommend this movie for any James Cagney fan, especially one who loves to see him in musicals—yes, even James Cagney's 1937 non-Warner Bros. musical Something to Sing About, which would've been better had it not suffered from its studio's small budget (FYI, it was made by Grand National, a small, independent studio; a prime example of the saying, "There's just no room for the little guy"). This is one of my favorite Warner Brothers musicals—next to Yankee Doodle Dandy, which is just too patriotic for me—and one of the top Busby Berkeley musicals. By the way, I know you guys love reading my James Cagney film reviews, so don't worry; there are more coming! Once again, please feel free to comment on this blog with your own opinions on this film.
Clip from this movie (I did not make this video):

1 comment:

  1. Cagneyfan, I really like this film. And "Shanghai Lil" is also my favorite number. Nice post.



1890s (1) 1930s Hollywood (5) 1931 (2) 1932 (2) 1933 (3) 1934 (4) 1935 (3) 1936 (2) 1937 (1) 1938 (2) 1939 (3) 1940 (3) 1941 (2) 1949 (1) 1950s (1) 1960s (1) Academy Award winners (1) action (3) adapted from play (1) adventure (8) alcoholism (1) Allen Jenkins (4) ambulance chasers (1) an affair to remember (1) Angels with Dirty Faces (1) Ann Sheridan (3) Asians in Films (1) aviation films (3) B-Movies (2) baby boomers (1) bad set designs (1) been a long time (1) behind-the-scenes movies (2) Berlin (1) Berlin Wall 20th Anniversary (1) Bette Davis (2) Billy Wilder (1) biopics (3) Blonde Crazy (1) blue-collar workers (1) bootlegging (1) box office hits (1) boxing (1) Busby Berkeley (1) Cagney makes weird noises (1) Cagney's ugly haircut (1) California (1) Canada (1) car-racing (1) casablanca (1) Ceiling Zero (1) Character Actors (13) Chicago (1) child stars (2) City for Conquest (1) Cold War (1) comedy (9) Communism (1) Communist hippies (1) corruption (1) costume designers (1) country boy Cagney (1) country life (1) crime (11) crimebeats (1) dairy farmers (1) daylight saving time (1) Death Valley (1) Dennis Morgan (2) dentistry (1) desert town (1) Dick Powell (2) dishonesty (1) doctor zhivago (1) dramas (21) drinking (1) Edmund O'Brien (1) Elia Kazan (1) epics (1) famous grapefruit scene (1) fantasy (1) fast-paced comedies (1) FBI (1) femme fatales (1) film noir (2) film scores by Max Steiner (1) Frank McHugh (9) future Fred Mertz (2) G-Men (1) gangster (8) George Brent (1) George C. Scott (1) George Raft (1) Germany (1) Gloria Stuart (1) Great Guy (1) Guns in the Movies (12) hair-pulling scene (1) He Was Her Man (1) headbutting (2) Henry Fonda (1) Here Comes the Navy (1) Hollywood parody (3) hotels (1) Howard Hawks (2) Humphrey Bogart (3) Indie films (2) Ireland (1) Irene Manning (1) Irish (1) Irish families (1) Irish fighting units (1) Irish heritage (3) Irish-themed (2) iron man 2 (1) J. Edgar Hoover (1) Jack Lemmon (1) James Cagney (40) James Cagney films (1) Jean Harlow (1) Jeanne Cagney (1) Jeffrey Lynn (2) Jimmy the Gent (1) Joan Blondell (6) Joan Leslie (1) Joe E. Brown (1) John Ford (1) Lady Killer (1) Las Vegas (1) Latino (1) legendary actors (1) leprechaun (1) Lloyd Bacon (3) loose women (2) Loretta Young (1) Los Angeles (2) madmen (1) Mae Clarke (2) makeup artists (1) Makeup effects (1) Mervyn LeRoy (1) Michael Curtiz (4) Mickey Rooney (1) Midwestern crime sweep (1) military dramas (1) milk war (1) Mister Roberts (1) municipal workers (1) musical comedies of the Great Depression (1) musicals (5) mystery (1) Nevada (1) New York melodramas (1) newspaper films (1) Oedipal Complex (1) Olivia de Havilland (3) on the lam (1) on-screen couples (1) only you (1) Pat O'Brien (7) patriotism (2) police (1) Political Films (6) Poverty Row (1) Pre-Code films (9) Pre-Code Films (1) Priscilla Lane (1) prison movies (2) Prohibition Era (1) psychopaths (1) racism (1) racketeers (1) Ralph Bellamy (2) Raoul Walsh (3) Ray Milland (1) Red Buttons (1) reformed criminals (1) Rita Hayworth (1) Robert Armstrong (1) robert downey jr. (4) roman holiday (1) romance (11) romantic comedies (10) Rosemary Lane (1) Ruby Keeler (2) Sambre Dance (1) Screenwriters (2) screwball comedies (1) service pictures (1) Shakespeare (1) Shakespeare film adaptations (1) shamrocks (1) sherlock holmes (2) small towns (1) social dramas (2) Something to Sing About (1) sports films (1) St. Louis (1) St. Patrick's Day (1) tabloid newspaper reporters (1) Technicolor (2) The Bride Came C.O.D. (1) the crowd roars (1) the Dead End Kids (1) The Fighting 69th (1) the irish in us (2) the mayor of hell (1) The Oklahoma Kid (1) The Public Enemy (1) The Roaring Twenties (1) The Simpsons (1) The St. Louis Kid (1) The Strawberry Blonde (1) Torrid Zone (1) trivia (1) turkeys (1) turn-of-the-century NYC (1) versatility (1) Virginia Mayo (2) Walter Huston (1) war effort (1) war films (3) Warner Brothers (11) wearing of the green (1) westerns (2) White Heat (1) William Dieterle (1) William Powell (1) William Wellman (1) winner take all (1) World War I films (1) World War II films (1) wrestling films (1)

Search This Blog

E! Online (US) - Movie News