The third of Warners' major backstage musicals to appear in 1933, unlike 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 in that it deals not so much with putting on a Broadway show as with combating the threat of talking pictures; unlike them, too, in that it pins its atmospheric faith less on the Depression than on Roosevelt optimism as personified by Cagney's irrepressibly bouncy choreographer. It ends with a string of three grandiose numbers by Busby Berkeley, that kitschy darling of current fashion, two of which (Honeymoon Hotel and By a Waterfall) are well suited to the wimpish personalities of Powell and Keeler; but the third, Shanghai Lil, is given a terrific boost by Cagney and by a camera raptly tracking through smoky Chinese bars, nightclubs and opium dens. But by far the best part of the film is its first hour, fast, furious and funny as Cagney sets out to convince his nervous backers that his idea for live prologues to accompany talkies can be made to work.
Cast and crew
Manuel Seff, James Seymour
James Cagney Joan Blondell Ruby Keeler Dick Powell Frank McHugh Guy Kibbee Ruth Donnelly Hugh Herbert