Footlight Parade is a bravura exercise in song and dance, with three spectacular numbers that represent the finest work of choreographer Busby Berkeley. As with many films of this type, the story is incidental, though the non-musical scenes benefit from a fine performance from James Cagney as a Broadway producer displaced by the film industry's transition to sound. In the early sound era, Warner Bros. was second only to MGM in opulent production values, and Footlight Parade outshines most films of its type from that era. Joan Blondell and Ruby Keeler are tops among the supporting cast, though there are no weak spots. Director Lloyd Bacon had a reputation for an efficient indifference to stylistic filmmaking. Here he has Berkeley and Cagney to create the style for him. The result is what many critics consider one of the best musicals of the 1930s.
by Richard Gilliam review