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42nd Street Blu-ray Review


“42nd Street” is the definition of a classic musical.

Set after the Depression, “42nd Street” begins with Jones and Barry putting on a Broadway show (as it is proclaimed several times). The ensemble piece follows the show in all stages of productions from auditions, rehearsals, cast members’ hopes and dreams, and the opening night show. In typical backstage musical form, there’s plenty of behind-the-scenes drama with the ill high strung director Julian, a star (Dorothy) involved with an investor (Abner), a dancer (Lorraine) and the dance director (Andy), a wannabe star (Peggy) who attracts suitors, and a whole lot more melodrama.

By today’s standards, “42nd Street” seems like a fairly standard behind-the-scenes musical but it does everything so well. There’s Busby Berkeley’s unrivaled dance choreography, a big ensemble cast (which I’ll get to shortly), tap dancing, songs (like the joyous titular number and “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me”), snappy dialogue, an energetic pace, romance, and a show-stopping closing number (the title tune) that features cars, tons of extras, a jaw dropping skyscraper visual bit and a whole lot more. Simply put, this musical gives the viewer everything they have come to expect from the genre in a fast and fun manner.

As I mentioned previously, this is a big ensemble piece that includes the likes of Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers, etc. A lot of the characters feel fairly one dimensional here and, strangely, the best cast member is not a song and dance man but the director in the film expertly played by Warner Baxter. His character has the most depth and the most interesting film spanning journey. The film even rightly ends with his character.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The B&W film appears fuzzy at times, but this is easily the best the film has ever looked.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A nice clean audio track.

Extras: “42nd Street” trailer, a Hollywood Newsreel of a college football team visiting Warner Bros. studios, 2 Merrie Melodies WB cartoons titled “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” and “Young and Healthy,” “The 42nd Street Special” focuses on a train that is en route to President Roosevelt’s inauguration, a short film titled “Harry Warren: America’s Foremost Composer,” a self-explanatory featurette titled “From Book To Screen To Stage,” and lastly an old short film about film studios titled “A Trip Thru A Hollywood Studio.”

January 5, 2018 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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