Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Chorus girls Polly, Carol and Trixie are ecstatic when they learn that Broadway producer Barney Hopkins is putting on a new show. He promises all of the girls parts in the new show and even hires their neighbor Brad Roberts, an unknown composer, to write some of the music. There’s only one problem: he doesn’t have the money to bankroll it all. That problem is solved when Brad turns out to be quite rich but he insists that he not perform. When opening night comes, the juvenile lead can’t go on forcing Brad to take the stage. He’s recognized of course and his upper crust family wants him to quit. When he refuses, they tell him to end his relationship with Polly or face having his income cut off. When Brad’s snobbish brother Lawrence mistakes Carol for Polly, the girls decide to have a bit of fun and teach him a lesson. Written by garykmcd

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I’ve heard of this movie for years, but didn’t actually see it until last week when Turner Classic Movies ran it. And it is positively stunning!! On the surface, it moves almost like a carbon copy of 42ND STREET- right up to the last-minute switch in players before the curtain goes up (although in this film, it’s Dick Powell instead of Ruby Keeler).

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But its astringent look at trying to play Tin Pan Alley smack in the middle of the Depression gives it a very adult and tragic significance. It still has the Berkley dazzle- from the “Shadow Waltz” chorus girls (and electric violins) to the now-legendary “We’re In The Money” dress rehearsal fronted by a pre-Astaire Ginger Rogers. (I was a teenager when my mother mentioned that one verse of this song was actually sung in Pig Latin- and I swore for twenty-five years that she was pulling my chain.

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It is one of the cleverest vocal interludes I’ve ever seen and heard.) But the three girls implied in the film’s title- Ruby Keeler, Aline McMahon, and especially the sharp, smart, and gorgeous Joan Blondell- are the best things in the movie. And Blondell fronts the sublime finale number “Forgotten Man-” which pays tribute to the men (and women) of WWI and the ironies which followed. The staging of it- the marching which goes from triumphant to tragic, the torchy, gospel-like vocal of Etta Moten (the black woman sitting in the window), and the pullback shot of everyone coming downstage at the fadeout- is truly spectacular.

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“Golddiggers of 1933” is a fun movie to watch because all the right elements that went into the making of this motion picture. Mervyn Leroy was truly inspired, and his direction clearly shows he was in total command. The contribution made by the incomparable Busby Berkeley is one of the best things in the film. His choreography for the big production numbers is one of the most impressive thing he did for the movies.

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The film is a sweet story about young hopefuls in New York trying to make it in the musical theater. Thus, we find the impoverished room mates, Carol, Trixie and Polly, who are so poor they have to steal their neighbor’s milk! These young women are at the end of their rope when Barney, the Broadway impresario comes by to tell them about the new show he is working on. The only trouble, he has no money for it.

How naive and wonderful those movies that came during the great depression were! Everything was possible, in spite of what was happening in the country at the time. In fact, this film, as well as others of that era, served as an excuse for people that were facing a hard time making ends meet for escaping it all when watching a movie like this one.

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The cast is excellent. Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline McMahon, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ned Sparks, Ginger Rogers, and Guy Kibbee giving performances that endeared them to the American public of the time.

The production number of “Shadow Waltz” has to be one of the best ones in this musical genre ever produced. The number is an amazing one and a tribute to the man who staged it, Busby Berkley. It also help the chorus girls were dressed by Orry-Kelly and the music was by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.

“Golddiggers of 1933” is one of the best movies to come out of the Hollywood of those years.

I’ve heard of this movie for years, but didn’t actually see it until last week when Turner Classic Movies ran it. And it is positively stunning!! On the surface, it moves almost like a carbon copy of 42ND STREET- right up to the last-minute switch in players before the curtain goes up (although in this film, it’s Dick Powell instead of Ruby Keeler). But its astringent look at trying to play Tin Pan Alley smack in the middle of the Depression gives it a very adult and tragic significance. It still has the Berkley dazzle- from the “Shadow Waltz” chorus girls (and electric violins) to the now-legendary “We’re In The Money” dress rehearsal fronted by a pre-Astaire Ginger Rogers.

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(I was a teenager when my mother mentioned that one verse of this song was actually sung in Pig Latin- and I swore for twenty-five years that she was pulling my chain. It is one of the cleverest vocal interludes I’ve ever seen and heard.) But the three girls implied in the film’s title- Ruby Keeler, Aline McMahon, and especially the sharp, smart, and gorgeous Joan Blondell- are the best things in the movie. And Blondell fronts the sublime finale number “Forgotten Man-” which pays tribute to the men (and women) of WWI and the ironies which followed. The staging of it- the marching which goes from triumphant to tragic, the torchy, gospel-like vocal of Etta Moten (the black woman sitting in the window), and the pullback shot of everyone coming downstage at the fadeout- is truly spectacular.

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