Bright Lights (1930 film)

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Bright Lights
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by Robert North
Written by Henry McCarty
Humphrey Pearson
Starring Dorothy Mackaill
Frank Fay
Noah Beery
Frank McHugh
Music by Ned Washington
Ray Perkins
Herb Magidson
Grant Clarke
Harry Akst
Cinematography Lee Garmes
Charles Schoenbaum (Technicolor)
Edited by Harold Young
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) September 21, 1930 (1930-09-21)
Running time 73 minutes (7 Reels)
Country United States
Language English

Bright Lights (1930) is an all-talking pre-code American musical comedy film photographed entirely in Technicolor and produced and released by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. Although filmed in December of 1929, the film sat on the shelf until the autumn of 1930 when it was given a limited release. However, Warners quickly withdrew the film when the studio realized that the public had grown weary of musicals. Warners believed that this attitude would only last for a few months, but, when the public proved obstinate, they reluctantly re-released the film early in 1931 after making a few cuts to it. The film stars Dorothy Mackaill, Frank Fay, Noah Beery and Frank McHugh.


A successful actress (Dorothy Mackaill) is about to marry a rich man instead of the man (Frank Fay, another actor who is a close friend of hers) she really loves. When the film begins we find that Mackaill is giving her last performance on the stage as she plans to retire once she is married. A group of reporters come to interview Mackaill and while Mackaill tells them a story which she thinks is appropriate for a soon to be wife of a wealthy socialite we see a flashback of her actual past. We learn that Mackaill's past has been sordid and that she worked as a dancer at a low class cafe. Noah Beery, playing as a Portuguese smuggler, took an interest in Mackaill and attempted to force his affections on Mackaill. Frank Fay, who was, even then, her constant companion, manages to escape with Mackaill from the cafe as a riot is about to start. Another flashback show Fay as a barker at a carnival with Mackaill as a dancer. Again we see a riot about to start and Fay once again saves Mackaill. The film now flashes back to Mackaill where she continues to lie to the reporters and tell them about her genteel background. Frank McHugh, one of the reporters, doesn't believe a word of her story but nevertheless keeps his mouth shut. The show continues and when Mackaill appears on stage, Beery, who happens to be in the audience, recognizes her and goes to her dressing room because he has some "unfinished business" with her. Mackaill enters her dressing room and is shocked to find Beery. Fortunately, Fay soon appears and pretends he has a gun to scare Beery. Fay gives the "gun" to James Murray because he has to go on stage. While Murray is keeping guard over Beery, a fight ensues between Berry and Murray and Beery reveals that he has a gun and in the struggle for it Beery is shot and he dies. When the police arrive, Fay tries to convince the police that Beery committed suicide to save Mackaill from a scandal before her marriage. Mackaill's friend Inez Courtney also gives false testimony to save Mackaill. The police remain unconvinced until Frank McHugh gives false testimony that he actually saw Beery pull the trigger. Mackaill is cleared and realizes that she really loves Fay. She cancels her engagement to her rich fiancé and is united with Fay.



  • "Nobody Cares If I'm Blue" Sung by Frank Fay
  • "I'm Crazy for Cannibal Love" Sung by Dorothy Mackaill
  • "Song of the Congo" Sung by Dorothy Mackaill
  • "Come Along!" Sung by Frank Fay
  • "All the Pretty Girls I Know" Sung by Frank Fay
  • "Wall Street" Sung by Frank Fay
  • "I'm Sittin' Pretty" Sung by Daphne Pollard
  • "Every Little Girl He Sees" Sung by Inez Courtney
  • "I'm Just a Man About Town" Sung by Dorothy Mackaill
  • "You're an Eyeful of Heaven"
Recently discovered color fragment.


Only a black-and-white copy of the cut print released in the United States in 1931 (with some of the musical numbers cut) seems to have survived. The complete film was released intact in countries outside the United States where a backlash against musicals never occurred. It is unknown whether a copy of this full version still exists. Recently, a small fragment in the original Technicolor, running about three minutes, was discovered in the Library Of Congress.[1] In 2012 the film became available on DVD from the Warner Archive in a double-bill with another Dorothy Mackaill talking film, The Reckless Hour.

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