This film was one of the biggest hits Hollywood put out in 1933, the very teeth of the Great Depression, and the biggest film at the box office for Warner Brothers Studios in that year.
While the story varies little in the way most musicals of the time carry their slender plot-lines, it is still I believe a landmark film. The movie combines a popular and "high-kicking" attitude with the grim realities of a land of opportunity now totally veering toward a place as "tapped out" as any country that any emigrant came to America to get away from.
in this clip Ginger Rogers performs one of the most popular songs of the period. This is the opening sequence of the film, and its important to note that the film audience here is being intentionally mislead--this upbeat production masks a hard reality. The police are on the way to close the theater and seize the costumes and sets of the would-be Broadway production. Even the things that make for frivolous entertainment --uptempo songs that stay in your head long after the show, sexy costumes, romantic love scenes with attractive stars--are not immune to an America with one quarter of its labor force out of work, soup kitchens and hundreds of banks closing from sea to shining sea.
The film opening features Ginger Rogers singing part of the lyrics in "Pig Latin"--an innocent bit of fun she did in rehearsal with the other ladies of the chorus. She later confessed she thought that diversion might get her fired when the producers overheard this clowning about. Instead the musical director, Busby Berkeley, kept that interpretation in the number.
This also features an early use (in sound films at least) of a super camera close-up of the aforementioned star. I'm sure shots of Miss Rogers uncapped choppers had many dentists in the film audience quite engaged by the spectacle.
Not all of the film is so bally-hoo of course, as the last production number "Remember My Forgotten Man", makes clear. (The second production is viewable in the comments section below.) This one--which seemed so remote and distant to me when I first saw it years ago--has a familiar ring to it today. Joan Blondell, a forgotten star of musicals and comedies, delivers some very soulful goods here in a lament fro the lost dignity of soldiers, farmers and industrial workers cast aside by harsh economic conditions. The finale, with an army of "dough-boy" soldiers in retreat from a unseen battlefield, shows the mixed nature of what people wanted from films of this popular caliber---escape, yes, but also a recognition of the struggles facing most people just outside the doors of the local movie house.