Gold Diggers in Paris (1938) Poster

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Rudy of the Ballet
lugonian8 November 2001
"Gold Diggers in Paris" (Warner Brothers, 1938), directed by Ray Enright, the last in the annual musical series, is the least known and discussed of all the "Gold Diggers" musicals of the 1930s that usually featured Dick Powell with choreography by Busby Berkeley. It's been long unavailable until resurrected on cable's Turner Network Television in 1989, and later on Turner Classic Movies where it played every so often since TCM's premiere in 1994. In spite of its latter-day rediscovery to a newer audience, it's still virtually overlooked and forgotten mainly because it doesn't hold up to its predecessors. Much of it strains for laughs and musical interludes weak, with the possible exception of the finale.

As for the plot, which opens in Paris, Pierre LeBrac (Melville Cooper) is holding a board meeting where he's selecting several members to go to various countries to bring back the greatest dance groups from all over the world to appear in their upcoming Paris Exposition. Maurice Giraud (Hugh Herbert), afraid to come to America in fear of facing the savage Indians(!), is chosen to go there anyway and bring back the American Ballet Company. While in New York City, Giraud comes to the Club Balle' where Terry Moore (Rudy Vallee), singer and proprietor, is entertaining. Giraud, who mistakes Terry's club for a ballet company, invites Moore's troupe to accompany him back to Paris where they are to appear in the annual dance expedition for $10,000 plus expenses paid to the company. Because his night club isn't making any profits anyway, Terry, along with his partner, Duke Dennis (Allen Jenkins) accept. Before they go, Terry and Duke go to find the best ballet master to train the girls who can only dance to modern swing music. They choose Professor Luis Leoni (Fritz Feld) from the directory, and find Kay Morrow (Rosemary Lane), a ballet dancer and his only pupil. Rounding out the girls, Terry and company board the ship to Paris where he becomes interested in Kay. Also on board is Terry's ex-wife, Mona (Gloria Dickson), who becomes Kay's cabin roommate. While in Paris, situations arise as the real American Ballet Company turns up, having Terry's troupe exposed as impostors.

With music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, the musical program includes: "I Wanna Go Back to Bali" (sung by Rudy Vallee and chorus); "Day Dreaming All Night Long" (sung by Vallee and Rosemary Lane/ lyrics by Johnny Mercer); "A Stranger in Paree" (sung by Vallee imitating Maurice Chevalier; Rosemary Lane, Mabel Todd, Allen Jenkins, Gloria Dickson and the Schnickelfritz Band); "The Latin Quarter" (sung by Lane, Vallee/chorus); and "I Wanna Go Back to Bali" (sung by Vallee, Mabel Todd, Allen Jenkins and chorus). While "My Adventure" is listed among the songs in the movie, it's not presented in the final print.

In between Vallee's crooning comes newcomers to the screen, The Schnickelfritz Band, taking the spotlight to themselves with "Listen to the Mockingbird," "Who's That Man? It's Colonel Corn," and performing an instrumental number at the Paris banquet. Though wild and goofy band-players, they's somewhat predecessors towards the more famous Spike Jones and his City Slickers Band of the 1940s. The Schnickelfritz Band faded to obscurity as quickly as they appeared.

With the exception of Gloria Dickson trying to obtain her alimony from her ex-hubby (Vallee), with few scenes involving a couple of chorus girls playing up to middle-aged well-to-do Frenchmen, the movie itself contains limited "gold digging" antics to offer promise from the title. Most of all, what weakens the plot most is the ventriloquism scenes involving Mabel Todd (the blonde with the buck teeth and odd-ball laugh) as she throws her voice to a great dane to the confused Maurice (Herbert), making him believe he's encountered a "talking dog." Even Hugh Herbert, supporting a mustache and beret, is not too convincing playing a Frenchman.

It's been mentioned by host Robert Osborne in one of the showings of "Gold Diggers in Paris" that Dick Powell, the original choice, turned down the role that went to Rudy Vallee, making his first screen appearance since SWEET MUSIC (Warners, 1935). Aside from Vallee's Maurice Chevalier imitation, he also impersonates the then current US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Busby Berkeley's choreography is the best he could do with this edition, mainly due to limited funds for a lavish show-stopping production. "The Latin Quarter" is a notable tune, best known as background scoring for the Pepi Le Pew cartoons. For a bit of nostalgia, "Gold Diggers in Paris" features clips from the "Young and Healthy" number from 42nd STREET (1933) and "Spin a Little Web of Dreams" from FASHIONS OF 1934 superimposed in its opening title credits, followed by views of Paris, including the famous landmark of the Eiffel Tower.

"Gold Diggers in Paris," which focuses more on singing and band playing than dancing, has that 1940s musical feel. It also shows the changing of the times along with the decline of the Warners musical. Besides this being the "weakest link" of the series, "Gold Diggers in Paris" still has some good moments to offer. For star searchers, look for Eddie "Rochester" Anderson briefly seen as a doorman, along with future 20th-Fox blonde of the 1940s, Carole Landis, who can be glimpsed as one of the members of gold digging troupe. Never distributed to home video, "Gold Diggers in Paris" became available on the DVD format in 2007. (**1/2)
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Some good music, numbers staged by Busby Berkeley, and mixed comedy make for passable entertainment.
Arthur Hausner26 October 1998
The comedy here is supplied by Hugh Herbert, Edward Brophy, Allen Jenkins, Fritz Feld, Curt Bois and a sextet called the Schnickelfritz Band. I never could fully understand the appeal of Hugh Herbert, or any of the comedians who use stupidity for laughs. (Marie Wilson and Gomer Pyle come to mind.) Here, Herbert gets a wire telling him he's hired the wrong group to come to Paris for a dance exposition and is about to call out the riot squad when the bogus pair he hired convinces him, through a talking dog (via ventriloquism by Mabel Todd) that they are the right group. Now, some may think that's funny, but I prefer the savviness of Brophy, who always knows what's going on and whose comedy comes from his reactions and situations he's placed in. Here, he's a gangster patron of ballet, who cries at its beauty but has no hesitation in eliminating the enemies of his friends. He's dispatched to do just that in Paris and befriends Allen Jenkins, unaware that Jenkins the one he's looking for. Now that's funny. Brophy also has the face and demeanor which makes me laugh just by looking at him, a reaction I also get with Woody Allen. Bridging the musical and comedy aspects of this film is the Schnickelfritz band, a precursor of Spike Jones, doing some funny numbers while in funny positions. There's even a washboard in their musical instrument collection. Busby Berkeley creates and directs all the numbers in the movie. Although it's not his best work, it is mostly due to his constant battle with Warner Bros. to get bigger budgets for his numbers, something of which he complained about often. Still, they're fun to watch. A giant Navy hat engulfs the two dozen gorgeous chorus girls in what is the most spectacular musical sequence in the movie. "I Wanna Go Back to Bali" number was also extensively staged and equally as good. Rudy Vallee was top-billed and sings four of the songs in the movie and Rosemary Lane was the love interest, singing a couple of songs too. The plot is routine, with an on-again, off-again romance and a suspenseful ending which has the group about to be deported before they even perform in the contest.
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The Golden Road Ends
bkoganbing15 November 2011
The end of a musical era was marked with Gold Diggers In Paris. Shortly after this film, Busby Berkeley took his considerable choreographing talents over to MGM and no more films with Gold Diggers in the title would be coming from the Brothers Warner.

Before this film was made Dick Powell who was looking to say farewell to musicals altogether said he would not do another film with Gold Diggers in the title. So Rudy Vallee made yet another attempt to have the movie-going public accept him as a musical leading man.

The film's a good one, but it didn't work for Vallee once again. He would only gain acceptance as film star when Preston Sturges correctly utilized his acerbic personality in character roles.

Harry Warren and Al Dubin once again wrote some nice songs for Gold Diggers and Busby Berkeley weaved his usual choreographic fantasy. His numbers are the main attraction for Gold Diggers In Paris, especially the last song The Latin Quarter.

The plot was later reworked some in the later Doris Day film April In Paris where Doris as showgirl gets a visa by mistake to go to Paris as as a visiting artist. Here it's bumbling Hugh Herbert's mistake who instead of going to a ballet company goes to the Club Balle which is losing money and is the white elephant on owner Rudy Vallee's hands. This offer of an all expense paid trip to Paris is a lifesaver for Vallee and his troupe and if they have to learn ballet, they'll hire Fritz Feld as ballet master and so be it.

Vallee's love interest is Rosemary Lane of the Lane sisters and he also has Gloria Dickson an ex-wife whom he owes a lot of back alimony to. She's hanging around to protect her interest and then actually proves to be the smartest one in the cast. She gives the most memorable performance as well.

Gold Diggers In Paris is great musical entertainment with good songs and routines in delivering them, courtesy of a premier dance master, Busby Berkeley.
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Fun fluff
richard-178721 September 2011
This is certainly not as good as the best-known Gold Diggers movies, no doubt for a variety of reasons. While it is a Busby Berkeley movie, there is only one big dance number in it, the finale, a reprise of "I want to go back to Bali" - sung, believe it or not, on a set made up as the streets of Paris, which makes NO sense whatsoever. (The first time that number is sung, in a nightclub in New York City, the women are made up as Balinese, and the set, what there is of it, is supposed to represent Bali.) Most of the songs are instantly forgettable. Still, in an almost childish way, the movie is full of a lot of innocent energy and it never drags. Rudy Vallee sings well, and the character parts - Hugh Herbert and Melville Cooper, playing the same parts they always played - are humorous. I was never bored, which is more than I can say for a lot of movies that pretend to far more than this.

I wouldn't go out of my way to see this, but neither would I suggest avoiding it.
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Passably entertaining if lacking
TheLittleSongbird19 September 2013
Nowhere near as good in comparison to the Gold Diggers of 1933, 1935 and 1937, but on its own it's an okay film. Sure it has a thin plot that doesn't really make sense, Mabel Todd is irritating and her scenes are just weird and Hugh Herbert is not much better. Rudy Vallee's performance is nothing mind-blowing but he has a nice voice and is a likable lead at least, Rosemary Lane is an alluring partner as well as sassy and heartfelt. In support, Melville Cooper has fun with his role and makes the most with what he has, while you will get much pleasure from Edward Brophy's body language alone. The production values are nice and seem to be done with care with some clean photography to go with it, if not as glitzy as the earlier Gold Diggers films and lower in budget perhaps. The music is not the kind you'll remember for an eternity, but the film is well-scored and the songs make for very pleasant listening. I Wanna Go Back to Bali comes off best. What there is of Busby Berkeley's choreography is good clean fun, that for I Wanna Go Back to Bali is spectacular, while the script is witty and smart with a touch of heart and warmth as well. All in all, lacking but passably entertaining and does its job reasonably well. The earlier Gold Diggers films are better though and showcase Berkeley's talents much more effectively. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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Borrowed gold
MikeMagi17 August 2012
Why do I think that this project -- scripted by a small legion of writers and storysmiths -- wasn't originally conceived as a Gold Diggers project. But the glittering title had been dormant for a while and maybe it could con a few more moviegoers into plunking down their silver. At least it had Busby Berkeley's choreography. Despite the fact that Rudy Vallee is no Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane is no Joan Blondell and the story has enough holes to drive a double-decker tour bus through, it's surprisingly entertaining. And Berkeley's high-stepping Parisian finale, while not as heady as "My Forgotten Man" or "Lullaby of Broadway" is a synchronized marvel. There's also a surprising pleasure -- the Schnickelfritz Band, a wonderfully lunatic musical aggregation who combine dixieland jazz and slapstick. It's almost worth watching just for these musical maulers who preceded and may well have inspired Spike Jones.
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More Busby, less Berkeley!!
Hot 888 Mama31 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Yak. Yak. Yak. Even the canines are blabbing in this lame flick, as the GOLD DIGGER series has really gone to the dogs. The preposterous set-up of a group of gals just half a rung above what later generations would classify as strippers, pole dancers, or go-go girls being mistaken as a ballet troupe and given an all-expense-paid trip to Paris aboard a luxury liner could be more tolerable if there were some of Busby's musical exercises in human centipede logistics featuring grand stairways to heaven, sky-high bunk beds, white grand pianos, or diving beauties worked in along the lines of FOOTLIGHT PARADE or the earlier GOLD DIGGER films. Instead, all the blabber from all of the campuses in California (not just Berkeley) seems shoe-horned into this movie, which is long on talk but woefully short on eye candy. Ironically, if the definition of a "gold digger" is an opportunist using cheap tricks to garner undeserved cash from guys wealthy enough to be able to afford at least a ticket into their local Rialto, than GOLD DIGGERS IN PARI$ lives up to its name, if not its once noble cachet.
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The least known of the "Gold Diggers" movies
Martin Bradley2 June 2017
The least known of the Gold Diggers movies and perhaps understandably so since it's not really a Gold Diggers movie at all but while it may be no classic, (the mostly terrible gags let it down), it does have a song score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, (and a good one), and Busby Berkeley is credited with the spectacular finale. The 'main' director is Ray Eright, a jack of all trades and a master of none and his work here is workmanlike at best. The male lead is the underrated Rudy Vallee who was a much better crooner than he was given credit for and the cast also includes Hugh Herbert, Allen Jenkins and Melville Cooper. The female lead is Rosemary Lane, sister of Priscilla and one of the Lane Sisters. Also known as "The Gay Imposters", a title not much used these days.
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Not as good
richspenc15 April 2017
There was definitely a loss of the wonderful magic from earlier Busby films (Gold diggers 33, Gold diggers 35, Dames, Footlight parade, and 42nd street) and later Busby films (the lovely Judy Garland films). This film had sort of a good idea in it; Hugh Hubert is ordered by the French ballet expedition to gather up the American ballet academy of New York and bring them to the expedition in France. Hugh mistakes the band and dancers of the club Balle for the ballet academy. And Terry, the show's manager,and his partner, even after recognizing Hugh's mistake, decides to go along with it since the expedition pays off and Terry is desperate for money. So the idea was good, but the story as it's being carried out had some dumb annoying things in it. One was the band from the club Balle, when they played at the club and then on the ship, I found quite annoying the exaggerated goofy, cornball facial expressions on the trumpet player, the tuba player with the glasses, the guy in the cowboy hat, etc. Why did anyone get the idea anyone would like that? A large part of golden age films, they knew better than this. I usually love the great comedy from that time period such as the Marx brothers and Laurel and Hardy, and even the three stooges. Next to them, these people in this film seemed to be the runt of the litter. And Hugh Hebert took his quality down a notch in this film from his earlier films too, which had genuinely funny moments such as his hiccuping scene from "Dames". In this film, Hugh just jumped around more childishly with more exaggerated facial expressions yelling "woo- hoo!" every few seconds, or repeating goofy comments (such as his remarks about the Indians at the meeting) that weren't that funny to begin with. The French ballet teacher that went along with them and his exaggerated style of acting was the same corny style of acting as the band and Hugh's.

There were some good this film such as the pretty dancers from the club Balle and a pretty girl Kay who is the goofy ballet teacher's only student. I sort of enjoyed the song Terry sings to Kay on the ship, but even that lacked the passion and romance from ship singing scenes in other 1930s films such as Kitty Carlisle and Allen Jones singing "Alone" in "Night at the opera". That scene in that film was wonderful passionate magic. There are countless other 1930s and 1940s films and songs with that same amazing wonder. This film just had more scenes which lost that special touch. But even though it wasn't quite in the category of magic, the singing scene still wasn't bad, and Kay was quite pretty. The other girl singers from the club were pretty and had nice voices. The finale number, actually, was very good. It was the best part of the film. Because it was the Golden Age, inferior films back then we're still better than inferior films today. That's why this film got a 5 where the bad films today I will rate a 1 or a 2. Just look at the awful 21st century style films with all the horrible gross toilet humor. That kind of stuff didn't exist at all yet back then, even in pre code films. Not in the way it is today. There were still moments in this film where you still knew you were in a different age than today. It was just a disappointment from so many other films of the time period due to those dumb, corny, exaggerated characters (the band, Hugh, and the ballet teacher).
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Pleasantly entertaining, if not outstanding, musicomedy
weezeralfalfa13 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The last and probably least of the intermittent Warner Gold Diggers of ..... series begun in '29(I've yet to see the '37 one). Rudy Vallee takes the usual place of Dick Powell as the lead male and singer. Rosemary Lane revisits her status as the lead female, established in the prior "Varsity Show", and "Hollywood Hotel" of this series of musicals. The latter 2 films featured established Big Bands of this era. In contrast, this film features the comical Schnickelfritz Dixieland jazz band, which pops up every now and then. Hugh Herbert plays the bonehead Maurice Giraud sent from Paris to NYC to bring the Academy Ballet of America to Paris for an annual competition. Instead, he mistakenly brings a troupe from the near bankrupt Club Balle, led by proprietors Rudy Valley(as Terry) and Allen Jenkins, as Duke. We have the further complication that Terry's ex-wife: Mona(Gloria Dickenson)is hounding him for delinquent alimony payments. She threatens to put him in jail if he doesn't pay up pronto, or take her along on the trip to Paris as one of the dancers. The dancers don't know ballet, so Rudy hires an excitable teacher(Luis) and his one student(Kay)to accompany them to Paris, teaching the girls ballet while on the crossing.

In Paris, things go OK until their deception is discovered, as the leader(Padrinsky) of the real Academy Ballet America arrives. The Café Balle bunch are almost all deported just before the competition, when Mona(Terry's ex) comes up with a scheme to deport Padrinsky and gangster Mike instead. It works, and the Café Balle girls (amazingly) win the prize of $50,000. Actually, there was no true ballet dancing involved.

The acting was good, in general. The characters are generally pleasant and interesting. Mabel Todd: the slightly goofy blonde with the overbite, was sometimes annoying trying to be funny. She supposedly was a ventriloquist, who projected her voice into a coached dog at appropriate times: something to amuse the kiddies, presumably. The Schnickelfritz band also serves to keep the kids awake and the adults amused with their raucous comical performances at several points.

Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer or Al Dubin composed the non-Schnickelfritz music. Rudy and Rosemary(Kay), or sometimes the chorus, sang these songs, pleasant but unmemorable. Busby Berkeley was the choreographer, but I couldn't tell, except for his occasional film tinkering, making the stage and dancers strongly tilted, annoying to me.

The screenplay is perfectly goofy, of course, but fun. I realize that the standard formula for these types of films dictated that Kay(Rosemary)would emerge as Rudy's girl in the end, after a few ups and downs. But, I was rooting for a reconciliation between Rudy and Mona(Gloria) after she saved the Café Balle bunch from ignominy and bankruptcy. I realize that she did her criminal act partly in self interest, as Rudy wouldn't be able to make her alimony payments unless he won the prize.

This was Gloria's second film role, she being the lead female in her first. She was a striking-looking blonde, seemingly older than Rosemary(Kay), but actually younger. She came across as the brainiest and most forceful of the characters. Unfortunately, her private life and film career gradually spiraled downward, with 3 husbands within only a few years, frequent demotion to supporting roles, and alcoholism. She would die at age 27 from a house fire.

Presently available as part of the Busby Berkeley Film Collection
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When the Schnickelfritzer Band's vehicle . . .
Edgar Allan Pooh7 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
. . . blows up in Paris' Latin Quarter an hour and 33 minutes into GOLD DIGGERS IN PAR!S, it's one of Warner Bros.' most direct and final warnings to the World of Nazis in Paris the following year (just as Warner has released several last minute warnings THIS year about Adolph Jr. treading in the footsteps of Der Fuhrer as Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" and bringing his Basket of Deplorable Nazis to Washington, DC come January). World War One drill sergeant Busby Berkeley staged each of the key battles of World War Two BEFORE THE FACT during the dozen musicals he choreographed for Warner in the 1930s, including PAR!S. It was all there on the screen for anyone who cared to look. Contrast that with what we're facing Today, in 2016. American Disgrace-Elect Rump ("elected" like his German Godfather in a rigged travesty of Democracy) has appointed a bozo named Michael Flynn as his top National Security Coordinator. While Errol Flynn proved himself in combat as Fidel Castro's right hand man on the Cuban Front (leading to Errol's assassination by America's CIA), Mike must be the Amber Sheep of the Flynn Clan. This week his operatives shot up a Washington, DC pizzeria because some Russian pocketing Fake News ad money had posted that they were using nun's nips for pepperoni on their pies. Mr. Berkeley probably is begging the Hereafter Honchos for the chance to stage a "Springtime for the Trumpsters" Black Box Warning Show right now.
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Forgettable musical comedy
gridoon20186 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Gold Diggers In Paris" is included in a large Busby Berkeley DVD collection along with 8 other films, but comedy and singing far overshadow dancing in this one. The songs are undistinguished, and as for the comedy....only the talking dog made me laugh. There is only one big dance number, in the last 10 minutes, which is enjoyable but, from what I've seen (I'm no expert in the man's work, it has to be said) far from prime Berkeley. The film's major "discovery" is the Schnickelfritz Band: they are good in small doses, but they get too much coverage (they never appeared in anything else, according to IMDb). Apart from that talking dog, the most lively performer is Mabel Todd. ** out of 4.
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There's too much corn in this soufflé.
mark.waltz5 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Rudy Vallee and his band are off to Paris for a culture contest arranged by French accented Hugh Herbert and Vallee must deal with vindictive ex- wife while courting pretty Rosemary Lane. Obviously "woo hoo!" is the same in French as it is in English, and Herbert must be to the French in the 1930's as Jerry Lewis would be from the 1950's on. Vallee has a couple of classy numbers, but there's a very corn-pone part of his band that gets too much after a couple of numbers. Still, Vallee scores with his opening number, "I want to go back to Bali", and the finale "Latin Quarter" is lavishly staged by Busby Berkeley.

A mostly fine supporting cast surrounds the four leads, with Fritz Feld, Allen Jenkins and Mabel Todd among the standouts. The one issue with the plot is Vallee isn't really all that likable, and when Dickson tries to make amends, he turns her down flat. The Warners musical, once the best in Hollywood, had sunk quite a bit in a short period of time, and the issues are with the scripts and direction, here handed to Ray Enright who doesn't have the knack that Berkeley did when he was as completely in charge, or that Lloyd Bacon and Mervyn LeRoy did in earlier entries (even though Enright had directed "Dames".) This is only slightly amusing, with dared comedy and awkward pacing.
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Ridiculous but enjoyable.
MartinHafer8 January 2013
Rudy Vallee is the leader of an orchestra and night club dance act that is struggling to stay in business. To make it worse, his ex-wife is trying to have him put in jail for failing to pay alimony. So, when an idiot (Hugh Herbert) accidentally invites him and his troop to a dance contest in Paris, Vallee jumps at the opportunity to attend. After all, they'll get paid just for attending--even if none of them know the ballet. So, he grabs a lady who does know ballet (Rosemary Lane) and they head to France. But, what they don't know is that the real ballet leader and his insane friend (Eddie Brophy) are actively in pursuit--as they want to punish them for taking their jobs. It's all clearly a silly case of mistaken identities--a very inconsequential but enjoyable plot. And, fortunately, two usually obnoxious actors (Hugh Herbert and Mabel Todd) are used sparingly throughout the film! As for the dancing, this was a bit of a surprise to me. Although Busby Berkeley is listed as the director of the musical numbers, there really isn't much dancing until the end of the film. It's more a musical--with quite a few nice numbers sung mostly by Vallee and a few odd but enjoyable novelty tunes. The songs are not great but are uniformly nice. As for the musical extravaganza at the end, it's pretty weird--even by Berkeley standards. You just have to see it to believe it...and then you might not! By wife's response to this number...'Good Lord!'.
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