‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Lullaby of Broadway

The fifth and final film of ‘The Busby Berkley Collection’ is ‘Gold Diggers of 1935’. Shock of all shocks, this is the first film to be directed entirely by Busby Berkley and not just doing the musical numbers.

Sadly this film doesn’t feature Ruby Keeler as the main female lead alongside Dick Powell. This was a surprise since most of the Busby Berkeley films I’ve seen in this collection have Ruby Keeler in them.

‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ isn’t really a sequel to ‘Gold Diggers of 1933’. It is the fourth of the ‘Gold Diggers’ film series with the first two not having any direction by Busby Berkley in musical numbers.

Apparently the first three films had all been based on the 1919 play called ‘The Gold Diggers’. But ‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ was the first one to be entirely based on a wholly original tale without a play.

There would be too more ‘Gold Diggers’ movies after this one including ‘Gold Diggers of 1937’ and ‘Gold Diggers in Paris’. Those two films had Busby Berkeley involved but aren’t in the DVD collection.

I don’t think ‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ is the best film out of ‘The Busby Berkeley Collection’. It might have something to do with Ruby Keeler not being in the film, but I found this one pretty outlandish.

It’s clearly a comedy but there are certainly lots of comedic moments that seem to be pretty bizarre. Also the logic of the storytelling and the development of the characters seems pretty peculiar in this.

Anyway, the film features Dick Powell as Dick Curtis, a desk clerk at the swanky Wentworth Plaza in the Lake Waxapahachie resort. Dick agrees to be the escort for some rich woman’s sheltered daughter.

It is meant to be a business arrangement as the daughter is engaged to someone else. But as the film progresses, Dick finds himself falling in love with the daughter. And he’s engaged to somebody else.

Meanwhile, a Russian dance director puts on a show at the plaza in order to pay his restaurant bills. Will the play be a success? Will the wealthy widow permit his daughter to marry her new love, Dick?

Dick Powell as Dick Curtis is entertaining to watch and definitely a charmer for the ladies in these films. It’s amazing how he’s been in all of the Busby Berkeley films I have seen in this DVD collection.

Adolphe Menjou stars as Nicolai Nicoleff, the flamboyant Russian dance director who puts on a show. I did find him eccentric, especially in some of the dance numbers like a dagger dance number.

Gloria Stuart stars as Ann Prentiss, the sheltered daughter who doesn’t want to get married to the fiancé her mother has in mind for her. When she has fun with Dicks, Ann easily falls in love with him.

Alice Brady stars as Matilda Prentiss, the wealthy penny-pinching widow who wants her daughter to marry another rich man. She can come across as eccentric and pretty silly in her old-fashioned views.

Frank McHugh (who was in ‘Footlight Parade’) stars as Humbolt Prentiss, Ann’s brother, who seems to like the ladies a lot on holiday. We don’t see much of him, even though he does support Ann here.

Hugh Herbert (who was previously in ‘Dames’) stars as T. Mosely Thorpe III. He’s the man Ann’s meant to marry by her mum. He is an odd one as he’s very obsessed with snuff throughout the film.

Glenda Farrell stars as Betty Hawes, a hotel stenographer who works for the hapless Thorpe before she blackmails him later on. I’m not sure what her angle is, but she’s clearly a money-grabber digger.

The film also features Joseph Cawthorn as August Schultz, a set designer who works with Nicoleff. And of course Grant Mitchell as Louis Lampson, the hotel manager that tries Nicoleff to pay his bills.

Dorothy Dale stars as Arline Davis, Dick Powell’s fiancée who seems okay with Dick to escort Ann Prentiss. And she seems okay about him in love with before she falls in love with Humbolt. Unusual!

The film is well-known for its Academy Award winning musical number called ‘Lullaby of Broadway’. That is a peculiar but very impressive number by Busby Berkeley that wouldn’t fit in a small theatre.

Anyway, ‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ is fine as a musical film. I don’t think it’s a great instalment among the lot, but I found it really entertaining. It is definitely an impressive film directed by Busby Berkeley.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘(buz’be bur’kle) n. A Study In Style’ featurette and the ‘Double Exposure’ featurette. There are two vintage cartoons including ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo’ and ‘Gold Diggers of ’49’. There’s the ‘Direct From Hollywood Radio Promo’ audio-only bonus and the ‘Gold Diggers’ trailer gallery.

On ‘The Busby Berkeley Disc’ which is a bonus DVD disc in ‘The Busby Berkeley Collection’, there are musical numbers from the following movies presented for your enjoyment. These musical numbers are from films like ’42nd Street’; ‘Gold Diggers of 1933’; ‘Footlight Parade’; ‘Fashions of 1934’ (a film not included in the DVD collection); ‘Wonder Bar’ (another film not included in the DVD collection); ‘Dames’; ‘Gold Diggers of 1935’; ‘In Caliente’ (another film not included in the DVD collection) and ‘Gold Diggers of 1937’ (another film not included in the DVD collection).

‘The Busby Berkeley Collection’ has been an enjoyable set of musical films that my Dad loves and I can’t deny I take admiration for the talent gone into the film, both on the camera and behind-the-scenes. The musical numbers are impressive, especially in terms of their direction by Busby Berkeley.

‘Gold Diggers of 1933’ and ‘Dames’ have to be my two favourite films out of the DVD collection I’ve seen. I’m glad I saw these films again with my parents to review on my blog. They’re quaint comedic musicals featuring the likes of Dick Powell; Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell who are excellent in them.

‘Gold Diggers of 1935’ rating – 7/10

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