Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Footlight Parade (1933)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Footlight Parade (1933)

In director Lloyd Bacon's and Warner Bros' musical - the third backstage musical from Warner Bros in 1933 (after 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933):

  • the famous number "Sittin' on a Backyard Fence" featuring chorines dressed in cat-suits
  • the many pre-Code jokes and risque situations, such as Nan Prescott's (Joan Blondell) quip at three o'clock in the morning to her opportunistic, gold-digging roommate Vivian Rich (Claire Dodd), who was attempting to steal her drunken beau, theatrical producer Chester Kent (James Cagney) away from her - she kicked Vivian out the door: "Now you scram, before I wrap a chair around your neck!...Outside, countess. As long as they have sidewalks, you've got a job!"
  • the three fantastic and extravagant finales (meticulously choreographed by Busby Berkeley) performed back-to-back at the conclusion (created as musical numbers or "prologues" for movie theatre owners to provide for their patrons before film shows): "Honeymoon Hotel," "By a Waterfall," and "Shanghai Lil"
  • the film's 9-minute bawdy "Honeymoon Hotel" sequence that featured married (?) couples (all anonymously named Smith) preparing for the evening, along with hapless newly-wed honeymooners Bea Thorn (Ruby Keeler) and young crooner Scotty Blair (Dick Powell); many other lingerie-wearing female brides who had been shacked up for a week (with their grooms) offered advice to nervous newlywed Bea - they knocked on her door and supported her in song: "I've been notified there's a little bride All alone in number two I think we ought to see her through, I will, Me, too. We've been here a week When you're here a week then you're qualified to speak. Let's tell her what it's all about, My dear, will you come out?...Wait a while, you'll want to stay forever At the Honeymoon Hotel"; unfortunately, the newlyweds had to put up with her lecherous brother 'Little Boy' (midget Billy Barty) who almost shared their wedding night
"Honeymoon Hotel"
  • the 10-minute racy pre-Code "By a Waterfall" number featuring an elaborate aquacade of 100 bathing-suited girls/chorines (clothed to appear naked) performing amazingly intricate dances and artistic patterns in the water while shot kaleidoscopically from overhead - and including one segment in which dozens of legs of floating swimmers were unzipped and zipped - and then in the climactic finale, the swimmers formed a revolving 70 foot high human wedding cake/fountain formation
"By a Waterfall"
  • the exotic "Shanghai Lil" number (providing commentary on Paramount's Shanghai Lily character (Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express (1932) from the year before) with Ruby Keeler in stereotypical Chinese makeup and a jet-black wig, portraying a prostitute in a backstreet opium den and brothel on the waterfront of Shanghai, sought by a tap-dancing sailor (James Cagney) looking for his long-lost love Lil in the vice-ridden bar - featuring a fantastic tap-dance duet between the two across a bar counter and on a bar table
"Shanghai Lil"
  • the closing shots of an imperialistic US Navy drill and marching team, the Stars and Stripes flag, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the NRA's Blue Eagle

"Sittin' on a Backyard Fence"

"Now you scram..."



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