The granddaddy of Warner Bros. film musicals, 42nd Street, co-starring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler with dance numbers staged by Busby Berkeley, is newly available in high definition on Warner Archive Blu-ray.
The film, made by director Lloyd Bacon in 1932 just five years after Al Jolson sang and spoke in The Jazz Singer, is more a drama with big musical numbers. It’s set backstage as an ailing director, Julian Marsh, risks his life putting on one last Broadway show. 42nd Street ($22) stars Warner Baxter as Marsh and early film star Bebe Daniels. Co-stars include Ginger Rogers, just before she teamed for the first time with Fred Astaire.
Musical numbers, written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, include the title song, You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me and Shuffle Off to Buffalo.
Frank Sinatra Centennial
To mark the upcoming 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth, Warner has also released two classic M-G-M musicals starring Young Blue Eyes and Gene Kelly: Anchors Aweigh (1945) and On the Town (1949).
Anchors Aweigh ($20) actually gave Sinatra top billing and co-starred Kathryn Grayson. Directed by George Sidney, the film features Sinatra singing I Fall In Love Too Easily but is best remembered for Kelly’s dance number, The Worry Song, with animated co-stars Tom and Jerry.
On the Town (based on the Broadway musical by Leonard Bernstein and Adolph Green and Betty Comden) co-stars Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller. Musical sequences include the title song and the opening number, New York, New York (not the later title song from the Liza Minnelli film). The film ($20) is co-directed by Kelly and Stanley Donen. Three years later, they co-directed arguably M-G-M’s best movie musical, Singin’ In the Rain.
The Sinatra films are also available in a five-movie set ($70) also including Guys and Dolls, Ocean’s 11 and Robin and the 7 Hoods.