If there’s one thing filmmakers love more than films, it’s making films about films, or the creative process in general. In 42nd Street, the scene is backstage at a Broadway musical, the ins and outs of the business, or at the very least a fictional account of the ins and outs. The film is classified as a musical, but what numbers are in the film aren’t very immersion-breaking; they just seem to be a part of the structure of the backstage musical, so points for that at least. Aside from that and the winning atmosphere, which was always upbeat and delightful, there’s not much else to this one.
In terms of technical aspects, the film often tripped over its own feet. One of the dollies near the beginning of the movie was one of the most rickety I think I’ve ever seen a dolly shot, the sound recording was often muffled, and at certain moments the acting broke the flow of the narrative, and not in an excellent, standout way. Really, the film as a whole is extremely textbook, and in certain elements it has trouble getting those aspects correct all of the time. Still, because it follows the textbook winning formula so closely, it can’t help but be at the very least charming, and it is, even with the customary feel-good, wrap-everything-up-in-a-nice-tight-bow ending.
I liked this one, despite all its flaws, and it’s that that allows me to give a recommendation for this, although it comes with the standard musical disclaimer: if you’re not a fan of musicals, this will likely do little to win you over, though it is less of a musical than most. I couldn’t give the film a higher rating just from all the technical flaws I very easily noticed, but don’t let it get you down if you are a fan of films like this; this is still a winner in my book.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10