Talking pictures are killing musical comedies on the stage so James Cagney invents the short musical prologue played live before the movies. It works but for how long because, to my knowledge, these musical prologues can only be seen on movies nowadays, precisely on the media that killed them. Mise en abyme at its best. Cagney, Blondell, Powell, Keeler: I miss you. Masterpiece.
Being no fan of musicals or cool American businessmen, I really had a tough time getting into this film. It contains some horrible humor and annoying acting, but once you accept that, the film is actually quite creative. Especially the two shows at the end are very nice. "By a waterfall" features a beautiful, timeless piece of choreography, followed by the bizarre and innuendo filled "Honeymoon Hotel".
Exuberant, incredibly fast-paced musical spectacular. Cagney's tough-guy energy finds a perfect home in the world of show biz and dance. Thanks to the fast pace, even the film's pair of romantic stories succeed, and the fountain sequence even boasts images of avant-garde beauty.
There is no valid reason not to love this jam-packed entertainment, containing one of Berkeley's most gorgeous dance scenes and two others that are at least amazing. Most of the jokes haven't lost their punch, and the few here and there that have, well, I doubt that today's comedies will look as fresh in 80 years. (I doubt anyone will even be looking at them either.)
James Cagney, just as manic and insane as he'd be in Billy Wilder's "One Two Three" about 25 years later. One can only sit back and marvel at this guy. Joan Blondell is a perfect co-star for him...she matches his rat-a-tat-tat dialogue on every beat. The overhead shot of the chorus girls on the fountain never ceases to take my breath away.
80 years after its release, FOOTLIGHT PARADE has become something it never really intended to be; a time capsule for a nearly forgotten piece of film history - the live prologue. The rapid fire dialogue is just as sharp and fresh as ever, and Berkeley's dazzling choreography remains the most stunning ever produced. It's a dizzying, delightful feat of Depression-era escapism. One of the greatest musicals of all time.