‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

We’re in the Money

The second film of ‘The Busby Berkley Collection’ is ‘Gold Diggers of 1933’. This is a Busby Berkley film that I recall pretty vividly and fondly when I was young after watching ‘Dames’ with my parents.

The film is based on ‘The Gold Diggers’ play by Avery Hopwood which ran on Broadway from 1919 to 1920. Now I don’t know much about the original play as I’m going by what I’ve seen in the 1933 film.

The film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy with Busby Berkeley choreographing the musical numbers. I’m surprised Busby Berkeley didn’t direct the entire film since this is  in ‘The Busby Berkeley Collection’.

‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ focuses on a group of aspiring, struggling actresses who are trying to get work in a musical stage show through the Great Depression. But the Broadway producer has his problems.

Every time he tries to do a stage show, it gets closed down by his creditors because he hasn’t paid his bills. Soon, he gets one more show going. But can he get the money from an aspiring songwriter?

The ‘gold diggers’, as they used to call them, include Ruby Keeler as Polly Parker who is an ingénue (a stock character who is endearingly innocent and wholesome). She’s like the film’s female lead here.

Polly is also in love with Dick Powell as Brad Roberts, who is a songwriter and singer in the film. Brad however is reluctant to perform in the stage show at the last minute as he has a mystery about him.

There’s also Joan Blondell as Carol King, a torch singer, who has this journey when falling in love with Brad’s brother once he tries to prevent him marrying Polly. Carol even adopts Polly’s identity in this.

There’s Aline MacMahon as Trixie Lorraine, who is the comedian of the ‘gold diggers’ group in this. Trixie likes to get her own way in show business, being a gold digger, and she even woos Guy Kibbee.

Ginger Rogers is in this movie as Fay, a glamour puss. Yeah! Ginger Rogers was in Busby Berkley films before she did films with Fred Astaire! Ginger even performs the opening song ‘We’re in the Money’.

The film also has Warren William as Lawrence Bradford, Brad Roberts’ brother. Like Carol, Lawrence goes on this journey from trying to stop his brother marrying Polly before he falls in love with Carol.

There’s also Guy Kibbee as Faneuil H. Peabody, whom Trixie calls ‘Fanny’. He’s like Lawrence Bradford’s right-hand man in the movie before he ends up being a love interest for Trixie Lorraine. 😀

There’s Ned Sparks as Barney Hopkins, the stage show’s producer who becomes impressed with Brad Roberts’ piano playing. He manages to get the show going but can he persuade Brad to be in it?

The musical numbers are pretty good including ‘Pettin’ in the Park’, which is slightly naughty for the time back in 1933. This includes the naughty ‘baby’ that pulls a curtain when women are undressing.

There’s also ‘The Shadow Waltz’ which is a beautiful musical piece between Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. It eventually leads to some violin kaleidoscope visuals when they’re being shot in neon-light.

And there’s the soul-searing and poignant ‘Remember My Forgotten Man’ which features images of the First World War before leading into the Depression. The number is mainly sung by Joan Blondell.

And I’m not even joking, that’s how the film ends. Yeah! Once ‘Remember My Forgotten Man’ has ended, the film just stops. I did expect Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler to appear right at the film’s end.

‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ has to be one of my favourite films from ‘The Busby Berkley Collection’. It’s naughty in places but it was fun to watch. It also has nice romantic elements featured throughout. 😀

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ’42nd Street: From Book to Screen to Stage’ featurette (surprised that’s not on the ’42nd Street’ DVD) and the ‘Gold Diggers: FDR’s New Deal…Broadway Bound’ featurette. There’s ‘The 42nd Street Special’ (again, why is this not on the ’42nd Street’ DVD?) and two vintage shorts including ‘Rambling ‘Round Radio Row #2’ and ‘Seasoned Greetings’. There are also three vintage cartoons including ‘We’re In The Money’; ‘I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song’ and ‘Pettin’ In The Park’. There are also theatrical trailers for the Busby Berkeley Musicals.

‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ rating – 9/10

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