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42nd Street

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42nd Street (1933) starring Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter
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42nd Street (1933) starring Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter

“You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” The film that launched the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals, 42nd Street traces the creation of a Broadway show from its first casting call through its blockbuster opening night … When the leading lady twists her ankle and a young chorus girl (Ruby Keller) takes her place and becomes a star. Starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, and featuring Ginger Rogers and choreography by Busby Berkley.

Cast of characters

Una Merkel, Ruby Keeler, and Ginger Rogers in 42nd Street
  • Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter, Crime Doctor) is hired to direct the play, Pretty Lady. Despite having a long string of commercial successes, he’s lost all of his money in the Wall Street crash. He’s determined to make the play a success, even if it kills him. And with his poor health, it probably will …
  • Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels, The Maltese Falcon 1931) is the star of the play. Not because of her skills, but because of her “sugar daddy” who’s bankrolling the play. She strings him along, while dating the man she loves behind his back.
  • Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee, Joy of Living) is the “sugar daddy” and financier of the play. He’s not a nice person, but Dorothy’s stringing him along allows the audience to feel some sympathy for him. Once it’s clear that Dorothy’s double-timing him, he switches his affections to “Anytime” Annie.
  • “Anytime Annie” Lowell (Ginger Rogers, Top Hat) is an experienced chorus dancer who, along with Lorraine take Peggy under their wings and help her succeed in the chorus.
  • Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler, Gold Diggers of 1933) is the naive newcomer, talented but without experience. She is mentored by her new friends, Anytime Annie and Lorraine, and falls for Billy.
  • Lorraine Fleming (Una Merkel, On Borrowed Time) is a friend to both Anytime Annie & Peggy. She’s guaranteed a spot in the chorus due to her relationship with dance director Andy Lee (George E. Stone).
  • Billy Lawler (Dick Powell, Gold Diggers of 1935) is show’s juvenile lead, and quickly falls in love with Peggy, as does Pat.
  • Pat Denning (George Brent, Dark Victory) is Dorothy’s old vaudeville partner, who’s secretly dating her on the side. And is fighting for Peggy’s affection as well.


  • Forty-Second Street (1932) Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by Harry Warren
  • You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me (1932) Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by Harry Warren
  • It Must Be June (1932) , Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by Harry Warren
  • Love Theme (1932) Music by Harry Warren,
  • Pretty Lady (1932) Music by Harry Warren
  • Shuffle Off to Buffalo (1932) Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by Harry Warren
  • Young and Healthy (1932) Lyrics by Al Dubin, Music by Harry Warren

Editorial review of 42nd Street courtesy of

Warner Baxter yelling at Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street

Ruby Keeler taps, Dick Powell croons, Ginger Rogers quips and musicals are back on the cinematic map as Berkeley imaginatively stages the title tune, Shuffle Off to Buffalo and more.

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