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Footlight Parade Blu-ray Review


Busby Berkeley is the MVP of “Footlight Parade.”

In this 1933 musical, the story takes place in a period in which musical stage shows are dying and talking motion pictures are all the rage. Chester (a musical man) is at a crossroads in his life until he comes up with the idea of doing traveling prologues at movie houses. Essentially, prologues are stage performances that accompany movies so the consumer can get more entertainment for their dollar. In order to pull this off, however, he requires a dedicated team to create showstopping numbers. Chester also has to face a rival business, deal with an ex-wife, try to score a big contract, and figure out who he has romantic feelings for (Vivian or Nan). There’s also a subplot involving a romance between Scotty and Bea.

Directed by Lloyd Bacon, “Footlight Parade” is a dizzying, fast paced pre-code backstage drama filled with fast talking characters, non-stop problems, and romance galore. Truth be told, it can all be a bit grating especially since the backstage drama story has been done ad nauseam. Luckily, this movie has two things going for it.

James Cagney and Dick Powell may be the big names here and while they are perfectly fine in their roles it is Joan Blondell who steals the show out from under them. Between her line deliveries and spunky personality, Blondell is an utter delight.

The big selling point here is, of course, Busby Berkeley who directed the musical numbers. While the numbers are sparse for the first 2 acts, the movie goes all out with not one, two, but three big numbers to close out the movie. There’s the weird “Honeymoon Hotel” (which will undoubtedly get stuck in your head), the visually mindblowing “By A Waterfall,” and “Shanghai Lil” (which is not exactly PC). “By A Waterfall” really should have been the closer because it so elaborate and dazzling not to mention the best part of the entire movie.


Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? A little snowy, but there’s a new clarity to this transfer.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Expect crisp audio (especially during the songs).

* “Footlight Parade” trailer
* 4 WB cartoons titled “One Step Ahead Of My Shadow,” “Young And Healthy,” “Sittin’ On A Backyard Fence,” and “Honeymoon Hotel.”
* “Vaudeville Reel #1”- A 11 minute vaudeville recording.
* “Rambling ‘Round Radio Row #3”- A series of musical acts.
* “Footlight Parade: Music For The Decades”- A 15 minute extra about the music in the film, information about the songwriters, stories about “Footlight Parade” and prologues, etc.

August 6, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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