42nd Street: River to River
Directed by Gary Keys
This feature length documentary was so interesting and entertaining, make no mistake it will be available in video stores by 2010. It is a vital documentation about the street that runs quite literally from river to river, from 1st Avenue to 12th Avenue in New York City. 42nd Street remains infamous yet pertinent to the history of its birthplace. For over a century it has continuously archived the DNA of New York City.
Gary Keys directed and wrote the script. He interviewed priests, restaurateurs, dancers, architects and the nicotine-stained Mickey Rourke, along with a cast of 42nd streeters who witnessed the morphing of their beloved street from gang murders to McDonald's. What was once a glittering theater district of hoofers and elaborate stage sets, by the 1950's it had turned to porn, prostitution, drugs, and murder. Today it's a franchised, family friendly Mall of America. The turn-around is considered good by the city and businesses along the way, but, its new slick persona remains debatable to those who lived and worked on the street - then and now. Keys exposes a well-rounded take on the then and now.
Throughout the film audiences come face to face with legends such as 42nd Street Pete, Jean-Claude Baker, son of the banana shaking Josephine, and Doris, at 105 years old the last living Zeigfield Follies girl. There's Father Patrick, the priest of Holy Cross church who prayed in wonderment as the street transformed from fear to Vegas-style fun.
With early 19th century photos and black & white film clips of Ruby Keeler, Fred Astaire, and Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson the film highlights and etches the birth of Times Square where the Crystal Palace first stood as a monument to one of the city's greatest eras. Today it's where the Bank of America, aka ‘Crystal Palace’ stands to represent a new New York that is talking green and post 9-11 optimum objectives. This beloved stretch of concrete which stretches from river to river remains home to jazzy hipsters, theaters and actors, environmentally conscious architects and business men who continue to keep the celebration alive on the street that will never die.
If ever there was a labor of love this is it.