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)