7.2/10
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Dames (1934)

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

Writers:

Delmer Daves (screen play), Robert Lord (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Blondell ... Mabel
Dick Powell ... Jimmy
Ruby Keeler ... Barbara
Zasu Pitts ... Mathilda
Guy Kibbee ... Horace
Hugh Herbert ... Ezra
Arthur Vinton ... Bulger - Ounce's Bodyguard
Phil Regan ... Johnny Harris - Songwriter
Arthur Aylesworth ... Train Conductor
Johnny Arthur ... Billings - Ounce's Secretary
Leila Bennett ... Laura - Matilda's Maid
Berton Churchill ... Harold Ellsworthy Todd
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bess Flowers ... (scenes deleted)
Richard Quine ... (unconfirmed)
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Storyline

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 September 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Abbasso le donne See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of director Edgar Wright's favorite movies. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Mabel: I've got seventeen cents, and the clothes on my back as I stand before you.
See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Dancing! (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

I Only Have Eyes for You
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Dick Powell on the ferry
Reprised by Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and chorus in the show
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

 
In the Depth of the Great Depression
16 March 2006 | by B24See all my reviews

No one who lived through the Great Depression could possibly take seriously negative comments on the quality and content this film written by youngsters with no sense of its historical context. To lament its silliness or find fault with what seem now to be crude mechanical cinematographic devices just begs the question.

This movie could not be recreated in the twenty-first century even in the smallest part. In the first place, musicals are now passé. The drag parody of the title number "Dames" in 1988's film Torch Song Trilogy is proof of that. Moreover, its stock characters (Hugh Herbert, Guy Kibbee, Zasu Pitts) were simply reprising common comedic roles of the day, completely unsuited to the harsher and more cynical models now in vogue. And Ruby Keeler's numbers lack totally the athleticism of our contemporary dancers.

What we can appreciate about the movie is how it fits nicely into the Busby Berkeley oeuvre. After his huge successes of 1933, this example is a fitting continuation to his development as a moviemaker. The catastrophic effects of the Great Depression like mass unemployment, hunger, wholesale uprooting of communities, and abject poverty affecting the lives of millions of ordinary Americans could be forgotten for a few pennies spent in the local movie house. It played to the needs of its time.

Interestingly, the packaging of female pulchritude in the film also fits with that time. What today seems borderline pornographic or insulting to women was accepted without much fuss in 1934. Indeed, any student of Freud could have a field day deconstructing some of the Berkeley images.

As to the music, it is simply classic. Dick Powell's phrasing is a model of tenor sensibility in an age of Big Band baritones. One has to accept that continuity or theatrical presentation is not a factor. Each number stands or falls entirely on its own as seen through the lens of the camera. As an early prototype of the Hollywood musical, Dames was and is a smash hit.


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