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Bright Lights (1930)

A successful Broadway star ready to retire from her wild career announces her engagement. But her tumultuous past isn't done with her yet.


Michael Curtiz


Humphrey Pearson (screen version & dialogue), Henry McCarty (screen version & dialogue)


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Complete credited cast:
Dorothy Mackaill ... Louanne
Frank Fay ... Wally Dean
Noah Beery ... Miguel Parada
Daphne Pollard ... Mame Avery
James Murray ... Connie Lamont
Tom Dugan ... Tom Avery
Inez Courtney ... Peggy North
Frank McHugh ... A. Hamilton Fish, a reporter
Edmund Breese ... Harris
Edward J. Nugent ... 'Windy' Jones (as Eddie Nugent)
Philip Strange Philip Strange ... Emerson Fairchild


The lovely young star of a Broadway show is giving an interview to several newspaper writers and tells them about her wild life, parts of which involved "hula dancing" in Africa and an involvement with a dangerous Portuguese smuggler. Unbeknownst to her, the smuggler has showed up at the theater on that very night. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What a Cast and Story - Crammed With Drama -- Songs -- Girls -- Hatred. And How Dorothy Does That Hula-Hula -- Oh Boy!


Drama | Musical | Romance







Release Date:

21 September 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adventures in Africa See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Apparatus) (Vitaphone)


Black and White (TV prints)| Color (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The original Technicolor film was ten reels in length. The surviving black-and-white print was edited for television and is only seven reels, with many of the musical numbers apparently cut. See more »


Come Along!
Written by Leo Erdody
Sung by Frank Fay and the chorus girls in the show
See more »

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User Reviews

Mulligan Stew
31 January 2015 | by mukava991See all my reviews

"Bright Lights" (re-named "Adventures in Africa" for TV broadcasting many years after its release) is a cinematic Mulligan stew consisting of a murder mystery, multiple love stories, several musical numbers, and tedious stretches of low comedy barely held together by a witless and improbable script about a show girl (Dorothy Mackaill) who, with her partner- manager (Frank Fay) shimmies her way from small-time tropical dives and traveling carnivals to the Broadway big-time only to announce that she's giving up the stage to marry into wealth (in the person of Philip Strange as Mr. Emerson Fairchild of Long Island whose accent is British but whose mother's is Midlantic).

The Fay character loves and protects Mackaill in a fatherly or businesslike manner but refrains from marrying her; every time he is about to give in to that urge he pulls back because some part of him senses that he is not worthy to be her husband. Mackaill finds his hot/cold behavior frustrating and infuriating. The development of this complex relationship takes a back seat to sometimes heavy-handed subplots enacted by the likes of Eddie Nugent in an ill-defined role (star's press agent?) eagerly trying to manage a gaggle of reporters which includes a barely visible young John Carradine and an all-too-visible Frank McHugh as an obnoxious drunk, who have assembled to cover Mackaill's final performance; James Murray and Inez Courtney as young lovers; Tom Dugan and Daphne Pollard as a violently discordant married dance team; Noah Beery as a lecherous figure from Mackaill's and Fay's sordid African past. Other, later, pre-Code films with similar elements include "I'm No Angel," "Forty-Second Street," "Murder at the Vanities" and Mackaill's outstanding 1932 feature "Safe in Hell."

As far as the songs go, "Wall Street" near the beginning, despite a stage-filling chorus and carloads of set pieces and costumes, falls flat, even with expert song-and-dance man Fay at the center. He comes off better in the Harry Akst-Grant Clarke standard "Nobody Cares If I'm Blue." In dramatic scenes, however, his haggard appearance distracts from his emotionally nuanced performance. The makeup applied to his rugged features suggests Count Dracula and clashes with his gently rapid speaking voice and smooth singing style and stage manner. Among the other musical numbers, "Song of the Congo," "I'm Crazy for Cannibal Love" and "I'm Just a Man About Town" are the catchiest, both visually and melodically, though one can't help wondering what Busby Berkeley might have done with the staging. Mackaill is the centerpiece of all three; she performs a hula-type dance in the first two and wears a man's tux and top hat in the first half of the latter before emerging via camera trickery from the huddle of a male chorus wearing a dress. She also has some effective dramatic moments but, due perhaps to sloppy editing, misfires during a poorly staged dressing room temper tantrum. Her vocal range is limited, but she carries her songs confidently, dances gamely and looks magnificent in skimpy, spangled costumes as well as in screen-filling closeups.

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