Robert Lord

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Footlight Parade Review


Extraordinary
With modern musicals being about as embarrassingly bad as they come (the nadir being Christopher Columbus' deplorable Rent), it's good to stop and take stock of the golden days of the movie musical. One of the splashy musical's most prominent heroes was Busby Berkeley, a choreographer who knew a lot about dance and even more about subtext. Through both his Gold Diggers pictures, Dames, 42nd Street, and Wonder Bar, you can see his dance style saying as much about the story as it is acting as a subversive agent. However, it never got so sly and perverse as it did in Lloyd Bacon's exceptional Footlight Parade.

In his finest non-dramatic role, James Cagney plays Chester Kent, a stage musical director who turns into a prologue director when silent pictures go all talkie. Prologues are lavish musical numbers they put on before and in between films, and Kent is the best in the business at them. When the possibility to sign a 40-theater deal comes up, Kent goes nutty and must rush out three ace prologues in three days. Keep in mind; this is all while dealing with his contemptible fiancée, Vivian (Carole Dodd), his loyal, loving assistant, Nan (Joan Blondell), two business partners who are ripping him off, and a spy in his dance company that is stealing his ideas. And then there are the two main leads that are falling for each other (sweetly played by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler).

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Little Caesar Review


Very Good
With James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson was one of the icons of gangster cinema. Little Caesar would be his most noteworthy role, as Cesare "Rico" Bandello, an aspiring gangster who hits it big, only to crash and burn, winding up in the gutter.

Robinson's sneering performance is such an archetype it's worth seeing for that alone. The story, alas, is kind of a dud. Not much of Rico's rise and fall is explained -- he just rides the script's randomness, looking for opportunities to scowl his way through another scene. I mean this in the best way possible.

Continue reading: Little Caesar Review

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Little Caesar Movie Review

Little Caesar Movie Review

With James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson was one of the icons of gangster cinema. Little...

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