42nd Street

The first of the Warner Brothers musicals cine-choreographed by Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street is also the archetypical "backstage" musical, Ruby Keeler making her film debut as the classic unknown chorus girl who gets her first break when the show's star (Bebe Daniels) gets hers, in the ankle. The lucky hoofer generally has a boyfriend or rooming house neighbor who is an undiscovered song writer; here it is Dick Powell. The cast includes Una Merkel as a wisecracking chorine ("My, you have the busiest hands!"), and Ned Sparks as a cigar-chomping "theatrical expert," as well as Ginger Rogers. But the best part about 42nd Street is its show-within-a-show, with numbers like "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," staged on a train bound for Niagara Falls, "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me," and "Young and Healthy," sung by Powell surrounded by a fur-clad chorus.

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