I had to choose tonight between doing laundry and getting home in time to watch 42nd Street. I'll bet most of you can guess which activity I picked. Clean clothes are overrated*; this movie certainly isn't. I saw my first glimpse of it in that film history class I'm always going on about. We didn't have time to watch the whole thing, but I got to see the "Young And Healthy" number as an example of pre-code musicals.
Now that I've seen the whole thing, I can say without a doubt that it's by far my favorite musical. The story, the cast, the choreography, the cinematography -- all wonderful. And so different from every other musical I've seen! Of course, I haven't had the opportunity to see many examples of the pre-code cinema at its best, but this was certainly an interesting place to start.
We all know how much I love classic movies, but what struck me while I was watching this one was that although it's the oldest musical I've seen, it's also very much the most modern. Don't get me wrong, a lot of supremely witty and creative work came out of the Code era and the need to work around those restrictions, but for someone around my age who hadn't been exposed to classic musicals before, I really think that 42nd Street would be the perfect way to ease into it. Some of the costumes and even the script in some places ("Sexy ladies from the 80's," anyone?) would almost feel right at home in a theater today, if not for obvious changes in style and slang. If and when I finally convince my friends to sit down and watch a movie with me, this would definitely be in the running for which one I'd show them.
I even loved the musical numbers. That may seem obvious, considering the genre, but I'm not a fan of musicals in general. Usually I watch them for the plot or the acting or even the dancing, but the songs themselves I can take or leave with very few exceptions. However, how could I not sit up and pay attention to this?
I can't believe it took me a full year to finally see the rest of this movie. Hopefully it won't be so long before I see another Busby Berkeley flick.
*That makes me sound disgusting. I promise, not everything I own is actually dirty. It can wait until tomorrow.