Musicals from the 1930's
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This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!
The synchronicity of the simultaneous advent of the Depression
era and the sound movie sparked something unique in the history of film the first
movie musicals. There really is nothing like that initial burst of euphoric escapism that
blossomed on the silver screen, giving eveyday moviegoers bludgeoned by financial hard
times and bread lines an outlet that enabled them to forget their problems if only
for a couple of hours. Join us for some of the finest, including SWING TIME, 42ND
STREET, TOP HAT with such stars as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and a
made-in-France Josephine Baker double feature (ZOU-ZOU and PRINCESS TAM TAM).
Friday, September 7 7:30 PM
Josephine Baker Double Feature!
ZOUZOU, 1934, Kino International, 92 min.
Dir. Marc Allegret. A box office smash for France in 1934, ZOUZOU is the
magnificent Josephine Bakers foray into talkies and what a marvelous
introduction it is. Baker is the free-spirited Zouzou, a Creole girl who carries a torch
for her adoptive brother, the ex-sailor electrician Jean played by that lion of classic
French cinema, Jean Gabin. Raised in the circus as part of an exotic sideshow act,
Jean and Zouzou head for Paris with their adoptive father where they find work as hired
hands at a music hall. What follows is part screwball comedy, part backstage musical, and
part unrequited love triangle culminating in several spectacular Busby Berkley-esque
showstoppers. The film is a grand tour de force for Baker who not only spellbinds with her
legendarily sensuous dancers presence but also exudes a playful, positively
Chaplin-esque exuberance for physical comedy.
PRINCESS TAM-TAM, 1935, Kino
International, 77 min. Edmund T. Gréville, who straddled the English Channel
directing in both France and the UK from the 1930s through the 1950s, helmed
this delightful vehicle for expatriate American music star, Josephine Baker. Baker
made her leap to international fame via the club-hopping nightlife of the 1920s
Parisian demi-monde. French novelist, Max (Albert Préjean), exhausted by his
social whirlwind of a wife, takes a solitary vacation to Tunisia to unwind. There, he
meets a barefoot sheperdess named Alwina (Baker). When Max hears of his wifes
dalliances with a maharajah, he decides to work "Pygmalion"-style magic on the
uneducated girl, giving her a crash course in civilized manners and returning to Paris
with her to pass her off as an exotic princess.
Saturday, September 8 7:30 PM
Berkeley & Ginger Rogers Double Feature!
SWING TIME, 1936, Warner Bros., 103
min. Dir. George Stevens. One of the best loved of the Astaire-Rogers musicals; a
Depression-era escapism at its most fizzy and delightful. Fred Astaire plays
"Lucky" Garnett, a bandleader who swears off the life of a hoofer doing the tour
circuit for the more "respectable" future of life with his girl-next-door
fiancé (Betty Furness) and an overbearing father-in-law looming in the distance (Landers
Stevens, the father of the films director, George Stevens). After his band mate
buddies sabotage the wedding, Fred, dressed to the nines in top hat and tails, hitches a
ride on a freight train headed for the Big Apple hoping to prove to his girl back home
that he can make a cool $25,000 to prove himself responsible. Once there he meets cute
with Ginger Rogers, playing a no-nonsense dance instructor named "Penny"
Carroll, and soon enough these two are creating stardust memories made in movie musical
heaven. Featuring several classic song-and-dance numbers including "Pick Yourself
Up," "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Fine Romance" (with lyrics by
Jerome Kern) and a charmingly offbeat turn from Victor Moore as Astaires
loopy pal with sticky fingers, SWING TIME is a ball.
42ND STREET, 1933, Warner Bros., 89
min. Dir. Lloyd Bacon. An aging Broadway director puts on one last show and ably
handles constant complications -- including a last-minute replacement when the star of his
production breaks her ankle. The most famous of the Warner Bros.' musicals is also one of
the fastest and funniest, thanks to expert work by Ginger Rogers and a plethora of
Warners contract players. Optimistic and sexy yet sharply aware of the Depression's
ravages, this beautifully choreographed -- by Busby Berkeley -- classic
influenced later films from ALL THAT JAZZ to BOOGIE NIGHTS.
Sunday, September 9 3:00 PM
THE WIZARD OF OZ, 1939, Warner
Bros., 101 min. Dir. Victor Fleming. Judy Garland is Dorothy in this sublime,
candy-colored adaptation of L. Frank Baums childrens favorite, one of the most
beloved film classics of all time. Take a surreal stroll down the yellow brick road with
Dorothy as she encounters the Tin Man (Jack Haley), the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger),
the Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), Glinda, the Good Witch (Billie Burke) and the
Wicked Witch Of The West (Margaret Hamilton). With the amazing Frank Morgan
doing multiple duties in a variety of roles, including the Wizard. Song "Over The
Rainbow" was an Oscar winner. Watch out for the Flying Monkeys! Join us at Every Picture Tells A Story at 2 PM for story time and
Sunday, September 9 7:30 PM
Fred Astaire Double Feature:
THE GAY DIVORCEE, 1934, Warner
Bros. 107 min. Dir. Mark Sandrich. The first of the great Astaire-Rogers musicals
features terrific tunes (Cole Porter's "Night and Day," Conrad and Magidson's
"The Continental"), pitch-perfect performances (including the always reliable Edward
Everett Horton in a supporting role), and elaborate choreography that Astaire makes
look effortless. The prototypical Astaire-Rogers musical, it established the formula that
would define all of the team's subsequent collaborations: a slim but expertly crafted plot
(after falling in love at first sight, Fred Astaire pursues Ginger Rogers
all over England while she tries to finalize her divorce); an elegant upper-class milieu
where matters of the heart are the only concern; and dance numbers in which the
performers' physical agility is celebrated and accentuated by fluid camerawork and
TOP HAT, 1935, Warner Bros. 107 min.
Dir. Mark Sandrich. Astaire and Rogers achieve sheer cinematic
perfection as a pair of strangers who meet in a London hotel and are nearly broken apart
by confusion over mistaken identities. Supported by an infectious Irving Berlin score, the
greatest couple in the history of Hollywood musicals dance their way through a smart and
hilarious American masterpiece that's got as many quotable lines as it does catchy songs.
Witty, stylish, and paced like a rocket, this may be the duo's finest film.