40 user 13 critic

Dames (1934)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 1 September 1934 (USA)
A multimillionaire decides to boycott "filthy" forms of entertainment such as Broadway shows.


(screen play), (story) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Arthur Vinton ...
Bulger - Ounce's Bodyguard
Johnny Harris - Songwriter
Train Conductor
Billings - Ounce's Secretary
Laura - Matilda's Maid
Harold Ellsworthy Todd
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bess Flowers ...
(scenes deleted)


Multi-millionaire Ezra Ounce wants to start a campaign against 'filthy' forms of entertainment, like Broadway-Shows. He comes to his relatives families and makes them members of his morale-boosting campaign. But Jimmy, another relative is producing a show, starring Ezra's niece Barbara. But he had bad luck with his backer, this person has given him an invalid check. Another of his victims, the show-girl Mabel has the idea of blackmailing Horace, Barbara's father, whom she has met before in a slightly compromising situation to get the money. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

1 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Abbasso le donne  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The studio wanted Broadway dancer Eleanor Powell for a special dance, but she refused the offer. See more »


While Joan Blondell is singing "The Girl at the Ironing Board", a stage hand is seen in the background hanging a clothesline. See more »


Mabel: I'd cry but I haven't got a handkerchief.
See more »


Referenced in And She Learned About Dames (1934) See more »


(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Danced by Ruby Keeler at rehearsal
Sung by Dick Powell and chorus in the show
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

The Ounce Foundation of American Morals
24 February 2001 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

DAMES (Warner Brothers, 1934), directed by Ray Enright, with choreography by Busby Berkeley, is another backstage story with more music than plot. The central character is Ezra Ounce (Hugh Herbert), an eccentric millionaire and founder of the Ounce Foundation of American Morals, who wants to spend his money improving other people's morals. He decides to spend a month at his cousin Mathilda Hemingway's New York home (ZaSu Pitts), to see that she and her husband, Horace (Guy Kibbee) and their daughter, Barbara (Ruby Keeler) have been living clean moral lives. If so, the family then will inherit his $10 million. Aside from not liking women (!), the only other thing Ezra cannot tolerate is show people. It so happens that Barbara is in love with Jimmy Higgens (Dick Powell, in an energetic performance), a playwright/ composer who hopes to find a backer for his show, "Sweet and Hot," and her father, Horace, has encountered Mabel Anderson (Joan Blondell), a stranded showgirl, in his train compartment, leaving her money and his business card with a note written in the back "please do not mention this unfortunate incident to a soul." After Mabel meets up with Jimmy and his troupe, and learns that Barbara is the daughter of the "sugar daddy" Horace, she comes upon an idea of how to get the money from him to back Jimmy's musical show. Yes, by doing some gold digging.

Songs featured in the story: "When You Were a Smile on Your Mother's Lips, and a Twinkle in Your Daddy's Eye" (possibly the longest title for a single song/written by Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain); "I Only Have Eyes For You" (by Harry Warren and Al Dubin) and "Try to See It My Way" (by Mort Dixon and Allie Wrubel). For the Broadway production numbers, all written by Warren and Dubin, and running about 10 minutes each, first comes Joan Blondell dressed in turn of the century clothes performing and singing with other laundry girls to the amusing "The Girl at the Ironing Board" which includes one witty lyric, 'When I'm off on Sundays, I miss all these undies'; followed by "I Only Have Eyes for You" sung by Powell to Keeler, with girls using picture puzzles of Keeler that later fit together to form one gigantic picture of Keeler's face; and "Dames" sung by Powell, performed by a parade of pretty chorines dressed in white blouses and black tights doing their geometric patterns, tap dancing, and Berkeley going crazy with his camera tricks, facial close-ups, leg tunnels, etc. Before the show meets up with a riot started by Ezra's stooges, Blondell comes out center stage in baby clothes singing "Try to See It My Way, Baby" along with other chorines.

I find DAMES acceptable entertainment, although some of the comedy may be trite, with both plot and production numbers starting to repeat themselves. While many critics mention that Ruby Keeler lacks in acting ability, I find her bad acting very noticeable here more than in any of her other movies, past and future, especially when she plays angry and jealous over Powell's attention towards Blondell. This is one of those rare exceptions that I did find her performance annoying than likable. It's interesting to note however that with all the songs, she doesn't get to sing any of them (excluding briefly talking her lyric to "Eyes for You"), and tap dances a minute or two to piano playing to the tune "Dames" during a pre-Broadway tryout. DAMES also marks the fourth and final Powell-Keeler-Berkeley collaboration. In the age of 1930s screwball comedy, Pitts, Kibbee and Herbert fit their character roles perfectly, and all manage to later get drunk after drinking Dr. Silver's Golden Elixer. Also in the cast are Leila Bennett as the bewildered housekeeper, Laura; Johnny Arthur as Billings, Ounce's personal secretary; and songwriter Sammy Fain appearing as songwriter, Buttercup Baumer. One final note, "I Only Have Eyes For You" should have at least been nominated for Academy Award as Best Song of 1934. (***)

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