Footlight Parade (1933)

102 mins | Musical comedy | 21 October 1933

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Cinematographer:

George Barnes

Editor:

George Amy

Production Designers:

Anton Grot, Jack Okey

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Var noted that the studio run by James Cagney's character is almost an exact replica of the Fanchon and Marco offices on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, where similar prologues were produced.
       Although the role of “Scotty Blair” was originally intended for Dick Powell, he became ill as the picture was going into production and was replaced by Stanley Smith. However, Powell recovered, and on 19 Jul 1933, Stanley Smith was fired and all of his scenes were re-shot with Powell. FD notes that Ruth Donnelly replaced Dorothy Tennant. Eugene Pallette, George Dobbs and Patricia Ellis were also considered for roles in the film.
       According to records in the USC Warner Bros. Archives, to save money on dance director Busby Berkeley’s salary between pictures, Warner Bros. entered into an agreement with producer Samuel Goldwyn to allow Goldwyn to borrow Berkeley on sixty days’ notice for twelve weeks two times a year. Goldwyn requested Berkeley’s services to start on 15 Jun 1933 for the Eddie Cantor film Roman Scandals (see entry), but Warner Bros. attempted set the agreement aside. Studio lawyers determined that the contract must be honored, and Goldwyn agreed to delay his start date for Berkeley to 1 Jul 1933. Berkeley began rehearsals for the “By a Waterfall” number on 12 Jun 1933, and started shooting the number on 24 Jun 1933. The number was not completed until 7 Jul 1933, and Berkeley reported to Goldwyn on 10 Jul. In Berkeley’s absence, dance director Larry Ceballos directed the numbers “Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence” and “Honeymoon Hotel,” after which he was ...

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Var noted that the studio run by James Cagney's character is almost an exact replica of the Fanchon and Marco offices on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, where similar prologues were produced.
       Although the role of “Scotty Blair” was originally intended for Dick Powell, he became ill as the picture was going into production and was replaced by Stanley Smith. However, Powell recovered, and on 19 Jul 1933, Stanley Smith was fired and all of his scenes were re-shot with Powell. FD notes that Ruth Donnelly replaced Dorothy Tennant. Eugene Pallette, George Dobbs and Patricia Ellis were also considered for roles in the film.
       According to records in the USC Warner Bros. Archives, to save money on dance director Busby Berkeley’s salary between pictures, Warner Bros. entered into an agreement with producer Samuel Goldwyn to allow Goldwyn to borrow Berkeley on sixty days’ notice for twelve weeks two times a year. Goldwyn requested Berkeley’s services to start on 15 Jun 1933 for the Eddie Cantor film Roman Scandals (see entry), but Warner Bros. attempted set the agreement aside. Studio lawyers determined that the contract must be honored, and Goldwyn agreed to delay his start date for Berkeley to 1 Jul 1933. Berkeley began rehearsals for the “By a Waterfall” number on 12 Jun 1933, and started shooting the number on 24 Jun 1933. The number was not completed until 7 Jul 1933, and Berkeley reported to Goldwyn on 10 Jul. In Berkeley’s absence, dance director Larry Ceballos directed the numbers “Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence” and “Honeymoon Hotel,” after which he was let go by the studio. Berkeley returned to Warner Bros. for one day on Saturday 22 Jul 1933 to re-shoot Stanley Smith’s scenes in the “By a Waterfall” number with Dick Powell. With his Goldwyn assignment completed on 28 Aug 1933, Busby Berkeley reported to Warner Bros. the following day and began rehearsals on the “Shanghai Lil” number on 31 Aug. The number was completed on 16 Sep 1933.
       DV later reported that Larry Ceballos brought a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Busby Berkeley for $100,000 because he was not given screen credit for the dance numbers he directed as per his original agreement with the studio. In addition, the studio gave Berkeley credit for a "mirror dance" which Ceballos claimed to have designed when Berkeley used the number in the Warner Bros. film Wonder Bar.
       According to modern sources, Cagney's character was patterned after Chester Hale, a well-known impressario of the times.
       The movie that is playing at the theater visited by Cagney's character early in the story is the 1933 Warner Bros. film The Telegraph Trail, starring John Wayne and Marceline Day, along with Frank McHugh, who portrayed the choreographer, "Francis," in Footlight Parade. In the "Shanghai Lil" number, the chorus creates an American flag that turns into a picture of President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, then an eagle, the symbol of the National Recovery Administration, instituted as part of Roosevelt's "New Deal" program. While some modern sources state that actor John Garfield (1913--1952) is seen briefly in the "Shanghai Lil" number, making his motion picture debut, this attribution has been disputed by biographer Robert Nott. Modern sources credit Robert Lord as supervisor and add additional cast credits: Lee Moran (Mac, a dance director), Roger Gray (Sailor in "Shanghai Lil" number).

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Sep 1933
p. 3
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1934
p. 4
Film Daily
30 Sep 1933
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1933
p. 2
International Photographer
Jul 1933
p. 39
Motion Picture Daily
Jul 1933
p. 10
Motion Picture Daily
Sep 1933
p. 2
Motion Picture Herald
8 Jul 1933
p. 20
Motion Picture Herald
7 Oct 1933
p. 35, 38
MPSI
Feb 1935
p. 8
New York Times
6 Oct 1933
p. 21
New York Times
15 Oct 1933
p. 3
Variety
10 Oct 1933
p. 31
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
WRITERS
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam
Jack Kaufman
Asst cam
Photog
"Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" number
Photog
"By a Waterfall" number
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus comp
SOUND
Oliver Garretson
Rec eng
DANCE
Numbers created and dir by
Dance dir
"Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" and "Honeymoon Hotel"numbers
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Chief elec
Chief grip
SOURCES
SONGS
"Honeymoon Hotel" and "Shanghai Lil," music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Al Dubin; "By a Waterfall," "One Step Ahead Of My Shadow," "Ah, the Moon Is Here" and "Sitting on a Backyard Fence," music and lyrics by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 October 1933
Production Date:
Principal photography started 19 Jun 1933; pick ups shot 4-5, 11 Aug 1933
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
21 November 1933
LP4263
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
102
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Chester Kent, a successful producer of musical comedies, finds himself out of work with the advent of talking pictures. His wife leaves him when he breaks the news to her, but he's not down for long. He convinces his two partners, Sy Gould and Frazer, to join him in producing prologues, live performances to be presented before the movies are shown, and soon he has more business than he can handle. Everything does not function smoothly, however. As soon as Chester thinks up ideas, his competitor, Gladstone, beats him to the punch. Added to this is the fact that his partners seem to be cheating him out of his share of the profits. Throughout all the chaos, he depends on his loyal secretary, Nan Prescott, who is madly in love with him, even though he doesn't realize it. Instead, to Nan's disgust, he has fallen for Vivian Rich, a gold digging actress. Then theater chain owner Appolinaris agrees that if Chester can come up with three new shows in three days, he'll sign all his theaters with him. Frantically, Chester sets to work, locking everyone in the studio to prevent leaks. With Nan's help, he pays off his ex-wife, collects his share of the profits, discovers Vivian's true nature, finds the leak and stages his three prologues. The first two numbers are a big success. Then at the last minute, Chester has to go on as the lead in the third because the star is drunk. He performs splendidly, gets the contract and after his last bow, he proposes to ...

More Less

Chester Kent, a successful producer of musical comedies, finds himself out of work with the advent of talking pictures. His wife leaves him when he breaks the news to her, but he's not down for long. He convinces his two partners, Sy Gould and Frazer, to join him in producing prologues, live performances to be presented before the movies are shown, and soon he has more business than he can handle. Everything does not function smoothly, however. As soon as Chester thinks up ideas, his competitor, Gladstone, beats him to the punch. Added to this is the fact that his partners seem to be cheating him out of his share of the profits. Throughout all the chaos, he depends on his loyal secretary, Nan Prescott, who is madly in love with him, even though he doesn't realize it. Instead, to Nan's disgust, he has fallen for Vivian Rich, a gold digging actress. Then theater chain owner Appolinaris agrees that if Chester can come up with three new shows in three days, he'll sign all his theaters with him. Frantically, Chester sets to work, locking everyone in the studio to prevent leaks. With Nan's help, he pays off his ex-wife, collects his share of the profits, discovers Vivian's true nature, finds the leak and stages his three prologues. The first two numbers are a big success. Then at the last minute, Chester has to go on as the lead in the third because the star is drunk. He performs splendidly, gets the contract and after his last bow, he proposes to Nan.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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