Thursday, March 16, 2006

Footlight Parade (1933)

When you see James Cagney on screen, you'll KNOW he's a natural. He belongs there.

Genre: Musical Drama

Starring: James Cagney, Joan Blondell

Directed By: Lloyd Bacon

Overview: The talkies have put Chester Kent out of business, so he moves on to making chorus musical prologues for films. From spies stealing his ideas to showbiz conflict, can he put not one, but THREE shows on on time?

Acting: You know as soon as I saw James Cagney, I thought, "Here he is, a legend of his time. A little strange that this man, best known for being a mobster is in a musical. Let's see if he's all that." And you know what? Instant stage presence. So astounding that I added a bunch more of his movies to my list of 'Must See'. Everyone else is fine, but they ain't no Cagney.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: You may hate musicals. Typically I do too, but the insane choreography in this is so elaborate that you have to agree a titanic effort went into making this look just so. Wow. Seriously.
Rating: 9

Script: The writing is also really well done. What a great job of explaining everything with wit and originality and the characters' interrelationships are pretty elaborate. Musically, this is also the one with that famous song By The Waterfall (you know the one: I'm calling, you, hoo-hoo-hoo).
Rating: 8

Plot: The story is deep, really! We have partners defrauding their idea man, an ex-wife trying to milk her husband while he chases someone else. His 'someone else' is trying to stop the wife and throughout the whole thing they're working on a three-day schedule to safeguard their careers. I mentioned that this plot could be reworked into a John Grisham style law / suspense / thriller and it would still work. Pretty cool politics.
Rating: 8

Mood: For a musical there's really not all that much singing (only 4 or 5 songs), but when it came to those 'last three shows', those are super great. A massive effort went into making a comedic, hectic and larger than life show that's just bang on. For that I just gotta give 'em props.
Rating: 8

I am genuinely predisposed to hating Musicals, but look at all the ladies!

Overall Rating: 82% (May Just Knock You Off Your Feet)

Aftertaste: Just like Freaks, the score reflects just a little differently than what I thought of it. I watched this only as 'one down' from my list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Sometimes when you do something you enjoy it feels like work. Working makes you feel like a professional. 'Film Professional' is a pretty cool title. I should make up business cards. No I didn't love this, but your Mom might.