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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 20th century: 42nd St. Nocturne
42nd St. Nocturne

42nd St. Nocturne
Xavier J. Barile
oil on canvas
8 7/8 x 11 7/8 in. (22.7 x 30.3 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Xavier J. Barile

Hear staff member Bridget talk about 42nd St. Nocturne 1.7MB

In 42nd St. Nocturne, Xavier Barile painted New York City's Apollo Theatre aglow beneath a starry sky. Barile's lively "nocturne" shows moviegoers filtering in and out of the theater under a marquee advertising the main feature, The Moon is Blue. Directed by Otto Preminger, this 1953 comedy film caused an uproar when it appeared on the big screen. The story revolves around a virginal young actress pursued by a playboy architect. Preminger released the film without the approval of the Motion Picture Production Code, since he refused to remove such words from the script as "pregnant" and "seduce," language considered objectionable at the time. The director's rebellion was great publicity, and huge crowds flocked to see a movie that, as Barile's marquee advertises, was "spiced by more than a dash of sex."

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