Monday, September 12, 2011

Reassessing 42nd Street

Yesterday's movie viewing for me was re-watching 42nd Street, a movie I've already seen several times but watched again just because it's so much fun. This time, however, a few things stuck out.

Obviously there weren't any medical privacy laws back in 1933. But I'm surprised that a doctor would be so indiscreet as not only to tell Warner Baxter's character of his medical condition at the producers' office, but to do so by basically leaving a message with the producers' secretary. This is a marked contrast with another 1933 film, Dinner at Eight, where the doctor is very private in the way he lets Lionel Barrymore and Billie Burke find out that Lionel's character is dying.

I probably should have paid closer attention to the scenes of the dancers practicing. But it seemed to me as if the moves they were doing in those practices don't show up in any of the big production numbers. Granted, the movie wouldn't be showing the entire "Pretty Lady" show, but all of the dance routines in the practices seem so anodyne.

As for Ruby Keeler, I know all the jokes about her being a lousy dancer. But then I watched 42nd Street again yesterday and relaized that "dancing" is even worse that I had previously thought. The gawky angular moves reminded me of some of the dancing Joan Crawford did in her earliest films, although Crawford wasn't really trying to pass herself off as a singer/dancer.

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