Limelight (1936 film)

Limelight is a 1936 British musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Arthur Tracy, Anna Neagle and Jane Winton.[1] It was released in the U.S. as Backstage.[2]

Poster ad from the Sunday Mercury, 1936
Directed byHerbert Wilcox
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Written byLaura Whetter
StarringArthur Tracy
Anna Neagle
Jane Winton
Ellis Jeffreys
Music byGeraldo
CinematographyFreddie Young
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
January 1936
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


When chorus girl Marjorie (Anna Neagle) discovers singer Bob (Arthur Tracy) busking in the streets, and the star of her show falls ill, she persuades her producer to give him a break. Sure enough, Bob becomes an overnight sensation, but success unfortunately goes to his head.



The film was the first made by Wilcox's independent production company, Herbert Wilcox Productions, at his Elstree Studios. It was distributed by J. Arthur Rank's newly formed General Film Distributors, ending a previous arrangement Wilcox had with United Artists. The story was based on Anna Neagle's "discovery" by Wilcox when singing in a show with Jack Buchanan' Buchanan agreed to play a role based on himself. The film was known as Street Singer's Serenade.[3]

The film was an attempt to make a more populist contemporary hit, moving away from the more expensive costume pictures such as Nell Gwynn and Peg of Old Drury which Wilcox had recently made starring Anna Neagle. For this film Wilcox partnered her with the popular American singer Arthur Tracy.

This drama musical romance features Arthur Tracy's street singing. The film's Dance Director was Ralph Reader. His work was so appreciated by Herbert Wilcox that he created a part for Reader to dance with Neagle in the actual film.

Critical reception

Allmovie wrote, "in addition to the two stars, Limelight is enlivened by the dancing prowess of the legendary Tilly Losch; also showing up for an uncredited cameo is stage and screen luminary Jack Buchanan.[4]


  1. "Limelight (1936)".
  2. Slide, Anthony (15 December 1998). "Banned in the U.S.A.: British Films in the United States and Their Censorship, 1933-1966". I.B.Tauris via Google Books.
  3. "HERBERT WILCOX'S PROGRAMME". The West Australian. 52, (15, 542). Western Australia. 17 April 1936. p. 2. Retrieved 17 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. "Limelight (1937) - Herbert Wilcox - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie".


  • Low, Rachael. Filmmaking in 1930s Britain. George Allen & Unwin, 1985.
  • Wood, Linda. British Films, 1927-1939. British Film Institute, 1986.

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