Backstage musicals

I very much loved 42nd Street (1933) the other day, impressed by the amazing Busby Berkeley dance scenes, fantastic choreography and editing. Fast paced and involved it really allows the spectator to feel involved in the action and the excitement of musicals. It fits, too, into Richard Dyer’s categorisation of film musicals as utopic. The cinematic style of this film certainly helps that, getting the audience into the ‘pure entertainment’ mode of viewing, but also aligns because it brushes over class difference- no character seems to be struggling to live within society. Other social issues are definately not given a thought as Berkeley brings us entertainment- most remarkably, the fantastic camerawork from above, forming patterns with dancers that could not possibly be witnessed from the stage, and taking the shot within the dancers’ actions (I almost had to stop myself thinking ‘Beauty and the Beast (1991) did that first’- oh shame!)


Pin Up Girl (1944), a vehicle for Betty Grable, although not remarkable either as a film nor a backstage musical, and let down excessively by the final scene, did feature some fine moments. Firstly, a synchronised tap dance by two weenie canteen boys in woollen jumpers. Then, a spectacular and heart-thumping dance on rollerskates (with feathered tutus, nonetheless!). And Betty really is wonderful, as is expected, especially in a club number where she gets to be sexy and seductive, and very beautiful, in a red and black outfit.


About cinemelo

I love to write about film and comment on culture. Hopefully providing insight and interesting thoughts for fellow cultural itinerants.
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