The Classic Film 42nd Street Essay

The Classic Film 42nd Street Essay

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The classic film 42nd Street (1933), directed by Lloyd Baken, follows the coming-of age story of breakout Star Peggy Sawyer in Julian Marsh 's Pretty Lady musical production at the height of the Great Depression. Marsh needs to make enough money for retirement and is on the edge of another nervous breakdown. According to Chapter 3 entitled "Musicals," classical Hollywood Musicals are a form of escapist entertainment, coping with war, depression, and re-building. Most importantly, they were constructed to be pleasurable for film viewers and thus it was vital that the narrative resolved. In the lecture, Gillian states that the classical narrative counters verisimilitude, the appearance of realism. The ideological subtext of the Hollywood Musical deliberately evokes and reinforces American values of escapism, wish fulfillment, survival, teamwork, cooperation, and community. For instance, the patriarchal theatre director is vulnerable to suffering another nervous breakdown and as a result, the doctor recommends Marsh stops working. However, Marsh disregards the doctor 's recommendations because he needs the money. The show must go on. It 's not just his money as the whole production is counting on the shows success. Marsh characterizes the archetypal survivor in the context of the Great Depression. Likewise, after Dorothy breaks her ankle, Marsh is adamant about Dorothy still performing. However, the doctor states that she is not in any condition to perform. Dorothy sees in Peggy what she used to be, that is her youth and beauty fading away. Dorothy becomes Peggy 's confidant and passes on the torch. The emphasis on youth and beauty is evident in the musical number, "I 'm Young and Healthy." Dorothy puts her jealousy aside and becomes...


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...world, whereas Sally is still waiting for her voice to heard outside the gloomy, grotesque walls of the Kit-Kat Club. Natalie was ultimately reluctant in wedding Fitz because he was not Jewish, not that he was a fortune seeker. Fritz also struggles with his identity and religion. He immigrated to Germany masqueraded as protestant to avoid antisemitic acts. Fitz confesses his true Jewish heritage and the two get married; however, the rise of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler is on the horizon. For example, the camera pans onto a boy singing the song, "Tomorrow belongs to me," and pans out to a Nazi soldier. The song was originally written by John Kander and Fred Ebb who were Jewish; however, the song was later appropriated into a Nazi Anthem. In Cabaret, the song is used to promote patriotism in Germany and others join in unison thereby foreshadowing the Hitler movement.

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