Stage-producer J.J. Hobart, is going to put on a new show, but he doesn't know that his two partners lost the money at the stock market. Insurance salesman Rosmer Peek falls in love with ex... See full summary »
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
Even better than the splendid "42nd Street," this first of the many "Gold Diggers" films is hitting on all its cylinders. When you have Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, and Ginger Rogers in the cast, the music of Harry Warren and Al Dubin, AND the choreography of Busby Berkley at his best, how can it be otherwise.
Okay, so Ruby Keeler still can't sing on key and her stomping dance style leaves many cold. She does still have that aura of innocence that helped her so much in "42nd Street" and which makes her performance tolerable. She does have the magnificent Joan Blondell and the soon-to-be-legendary Ginger Rogers to fall back on and, believe me, both ladies are more than equal to the task. (I have long believed that Blondell was one of the finest comic actresses in Hollywood history and Ginger Rogers - well, there was a reason Fred Astaire partnered with her more than with any other. No one could do musical comedy and dance better than Rogers at her peak.)
Yes, Berkley is an acquired taste. I find much of his later work a bit too precious for my tastes. Here, however, where he was still developing his style, it comes across as fresh and invigorating. Some of the numbers could have used a bit more rehearsal (low budget and a short shooting schedule probably nixed that) but they still all work and some are astonishingly good.
Dick Powell is, as usual, splendid and in great voice. Those of us who remember his later career as an award winning dramatic actor and director may not be aware that he was originally a singer - and a damned fine one until cigarette smoking and age took its toll.
Many might be a bit shocked by the bawdiness (naughtiness?) of some of the numbers. This was one of the pre-Hayes code films and it one of the reasons why certain groups of viewers were upset. None of it is dirty but some certainly disturbing to the sensitive. (See "Flying Down to Rio" or "Footlight Parade" for other examples of pre-code examples.) I find it all pretty tame but, in 1933, some considered this scandalous and nearly pornographic. We are talking skimpy clothing and innuendo, nothing more, but this was the 1930s and censorship was getting ready to rear its ugly heads. (See Chaplin's masterful "Monsieur Verdoux" for his not-so-subtle jabs at censorship.)
"Gold Diggers of 1933" is a certified classic and should not be missed by fans of the musical or early Hollywood. Just remember that its a product of its time and not the present age and enjoy it for what it is.
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