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Bright Lights is a 1930 film directed by Michael Curtiz.

Louanne (Dorothy Mackaill) is the star of a musical revue show titled Bright Lights. She is about to play her last show, as she is leaving the stage to marry a starchy aristocrat named Fairchild. Her costar and longtime showbiz partner, Wally, is clearly in love with her himself but is putting up a brave facade. Another plot line follows Connie (James Murray, The Crowd), a bootlegger who is trying to branch out into more legitimate (or at least less dangerous) businesses by partnering up with a Portuguese smuggler, Miguel Parada...who as it turns out has a past with Louanne.

Bright Lights was filmed in color but only a black-and-white print exists, except for a 3-minute fragment that is not included in the current public print. John Carradine made his film debut in an uncredited bit part, as a photographer at Louanne's press conference.

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Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Fish, the reporter, is drunk throughout the movie. This does not stop him from making some quick decisions.
  • Attempted Rape: In the South Africa flashback scene, Parada is trying to rape Louanne in her dressing room when Wally comes in and saves her.
  • Beta Couple: Connie the gangster is dating Peggy, a girl in the show. He's looking for good times while she's looking for commitment. She winds up extracting a promise of marriage after she gives him an alibi for Parada's death.
  • Blackface: The backup dancers for the pretty darn racist "Cannibal Love" number are dressed in full black body stockings.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Parada seems to be about to attack Louanne again when Wally jabs a pocket knife into his back and pretends that it's a gun. It works.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: One of the actors attempts to kill his obnoxious, shrewish wife by dropping a stage sandbag on her from the catwalk. After it misses and she scowls up at him, he muses about better luck next time.
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  • Extremely Short Timespan: Only a few hours before and during the performance of a stage show.
  • Fanservice: Louanne is introduced in nothing but a slip.
  • Flashback: A couple of flashbacks serve to illustrate Louanne and Wally's history together and provide comedic contrast to her claims of growing up as an innocent young maiden. The second flashback also tells of her violent encounter with Parada in South Africa.
  • Gilligan Cut: Used when Louanne is making ridiculous claims about her past to the reporters. When she says that she studied at "a fashionable girls' school up on the Hudson", the film cuts to a flashback showing her dancing in the "Star Garter Beauty Show" as some sort of carnival sideshow act.
  • Karma Houdini: Parada was a real a-hole, but it's a mark of The Pre-Code Era that Wally, Connie, and Fish conspire to make the shooting look like a suicide, and are successful.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Louanne and Wally proclaim their love for each other and have The Big Damn Kiss just as Wally is supposed to go onstage for the closing number of the show. Someone desperately reminds Wally, "The finale!" Wally answers "Oh, what a finale!" and kisses Louanne again. The End.
  • Medium Awareness: A title card proclaims that "Between scenes, Louanne's marriage was celebrated."
  • The Musical Musical: Very popular in the early talkie era as the studios put out scads of musicals. There are many numbers from the stage show Bright Lights.
  • Sexy Silhouette: Louanne's in the scene where Parada the creep sneaks into her dressing room.
  • Title Drop: Early on, the name "Bright Lights" can be seen on a trunk backstage. Later, Fish confidently asserts that his new girlfriend will be the new star of Bright Lights the show.
  • Zip Me Up: Louanne's zip-me-up flirting with Wally as she's getting into her costume at the beginning shows the charge between them, even as she's supposedly marrying Fairchild.
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