Bright Lights is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, July 18th at 1:45pm PST
In July 1932, Ann Dvorak walked out on Warner Bros to go honeymooning abroad with hubby Leslie Fenton. While she was gone, the studio started producing Depression Era feel-good films featuring over-the-top musical numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Given Dvorak’s background as a chorus girl, there is a good chance she may have appeared in films such as 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, or Gold Diggers of 1933. When she finally came back to work, she did feel as though she had missed out on the opportunity to show off her dancing skills, causing her to successfully lobby for a role in the musical Sweet Music.
In 1935, she finally got the opportunity to work with Busby Berkeley with a lead role in Bright Lights starring Joe E Brown. Dvorak had previously worked with Berkeley who choreographed a quicky routine for Sky Devils, but this time around he was the film’s director. This tale of a married vaudeville couple whose marriage is put to the test when the husband goes on Broadway does not contain any of Berkeley’s signature dance numbers, but does let Dvorak show off a step or two. Bright Lights isn’t the most memorable film and Joe E. Brown can wear a bit thin at times, but overall it’s enjoyable enough. Dvorak and Brown have great chemistry and the movie is strongest when they are on screen together.
For those of you interested in Los Angeles history, some parts of Bright Lights, where filmed inside Child’s Opera House on Main Street shortly before the theater was demolished.