Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) Poster

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A Visual Masterpiece
Texasguy27 September 2000
I make no apologies for saying that Busby Berkeley's incredible sequence to "The Lullaby of Broadway" is one of the most beautiful, chilling, and exuberant moments in the history of American cinema. Not only is the number amazing from a visual standpoint, but is a fantastic illustration of urban isolationism, and attitudes of "The Great Depression." Dreamlike and hypnotic, the song easily seduces the moviegoer as its short character study takes flight, then leaves its viewers in a bizarre state of discomfort as its story takes an abrupt and disturbing turn. I know it's cliched, but they really don't make 'em quite like this anymore!
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Although Not Without Defects This Is One Amazing Production
Patriotlad@aol.com8 July 2008
Seventy-three years have elapsed since this Gold Diggers movie was released, and it is well worth remembering that for many Americans The Great Depression was still fairly well depressing. Two years into the first administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the overall level of unemployment was dropping, but entirely too many people were what we would now call "underemployed." They were working -- like the hotel staff in the fictional resort where all of the events in this movie occur -- "for tips." Not only that, they were required to pay their managers 'a tithe' of whatever they collected. All of that is laid out in the first sequences of this incredible film.

In a very real way, this movie was an employment bonanza all its own.

The extraordinary dancing sequences in "Lullaby Of Broadway" clearly required about a hundred dancers and the musicians: this means that there were also dozens of supporting personnel required for the task of doing rehearsals ( including musicians ). Perhaps it wasn't the best pay-day for most of these people but it was a pay-day in Hollywood.

Busby Berkeley has received many accolades for his work in 42nd Street, which is quite possibly one of the greatest American films ever made. But the energy and style and the enthusiasm which is on display in the dancing routines for "Lullaby" was not faked. Maybe this movie has all the intellectual 'nutrients' of cotton candy and maybe that's a valid criticism, but it was work and honest work at that. This is a greatly entertaining film built out of the flimsiest of dramatic components, yet one thing remains true, it's a hell of an entertaining ride.

The comedic elements were clearly drawn comic-book style, and I do not find that objectionable in the least, for the goofiness of the lead comic actors is still charming all these decades later. OK, it is true that many millions of modern film fans may not have the slightest idea what 'snuff' is -- finely powdered tobacco -- but funny is funny, and the obsession of the screwball expert who is collecting them is still really funny !! If it wasn't funny, then why are 'nerds' still getting laughs in movies today ?? It's the same basic kind of humor.

The rating of 8 for this film does take into account the tissue-thin plot for this second "Gold Diggers" episode, but it remains one of my personal favorites and that is said after having given it several viewings. Look back on this as an historical document. See how people behaved before being constantly tethered to their cell phones, before being obsessed with 'global warming' or the price of gasoline.

Oh, and Gloria Stuart is so incredibly beautiful that she stops the action in almost every scene she's in, as does Wini Shaw's singing.

A great film for a cozy Saturday night, and it is also certified as being 100 % zombie-free.
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Berkeley Brings Home The Bacon
Ron Oliver23 March 2004
The GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 converge on a resort hotel and get involved in staging a lavish charity stage show.

With this film, Busby Berkeley, Warner Bros.' genius choreographer, produced another tuneful, eye-popping spectacle to beguile Depression audiences out of their spare change. With some gutsy performers unhampered by anything remotely resembling an intelligent plot, Berkeley provided plenty of laughs & glitz in this follow-up to his popular GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.

The large cast is all attuned to the nonsensical merriment. Preppy Dick Powell is in excellent good voice as the hotel employee wooing rich girl Gloria Stuart, who only has to look lovely for the cameras. Alice Brady is properly shrill & strident as a miserly millionaire insistent on getting her own way in all things. Hugh Herbert is delightful as a daffy fellow interested only in his collection of snuff boxes.

Hilarious Adolphe Menjou steals his every scene as a penniless Russian impresario who is obviously slightly crazed. Bold & brassy, the marvelous Glenda Farrell gets to play the only true gold digger in the film. Frank McHugh is Brady's son, desperate to enjoy a forbidden romance. Grant Mitchell oozes unctuous charm as the somewhat smarmy hotel manager.

Movie mavens will recognize Nora Cecil as the head hotel housekeeper & E. E. Clive as Herbert's chauffeur, both uncredited.

While the cast is all shamelessly willing to entertain, it is the two production numbers near the film's climax which have given it its place in movie history. ‘The Words Are In My Heart,' with its gorgeous girls and hypnotically undulating white pianos, showcases Berkeley's love for regimented precision & choreography, engendered years before during his stint with the military. The seminal ‘Lullaby Of Broadway' is a perfect example of Berkeley's way of telling a story through music & dance--in this instance the tale of a Big City girl's ultimately horrific night. These two completely different numbers are tied together by the skein of Berkeley's genius and counterpoint each other beautifully.
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More Busby and an early glimpse at an actress of 'Titanic' proportions
blanche-212 April 2006
"Golddiggers of 1935" stars Alice Brady as a cheapskate determined that her daughter will marry a wealthy older man as planned. In order to make sure this happens, she gives her daughter a last wish as a single woman, which is to let her do what she wants (i.e., have fun) all summer at the resort where they're staying. So mom hires the student doctor at the reception desk, Dick (Dick Powell) to escort her around. Oh, and then there's the show for the milk fund. And what a show! The daughter in question is the beautiful Gloria Stuart, who a mere 60+ years later will receive an Oscar nomination for "Titanic" and make it at last! 96 at the time of this writing, Stuart today is completely recognizable as that dazzling blond of her youth. There's no mistaking those incredible eyes or wonderful voice. It was really a treat to see her in this.

The film is remarkable for its milk fund numbers only - the rest of it isn't much. Berkeley pulled out all the stops with a mesmerizing array of moving white pianos played by chorus girls in gowns, and follows it up with "Lullaby of Broadway." Sensational - so imaginative, dark, and atmospheric, truly one of the best numbers in cinema. Its unusual beginning (also done at the end) will cue you in immediately that you're about to see something different.

The cast is first rate - Powell, Stuart, Brady, Hugh Herbert, Dorothy Dare, Glenda Farrell, and Adolphe Menjou. Parts of it are overacted, almost as if the actors were on stage, but you won't be sorry you saw Berkeley's work at its best.
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Busby Berkeley's finest hour
george-8523 March 1999
While the stars of this film Dick Powell,Gloria Stuart,Adolphe Menjou And the vocal by Wini Shaw all were very good, it was Busby Berkeley's film.Many say it was his finest effort, and stands alone today.His production number "Lullaby of Broadway" will never be duplicated again. There were over 100 dancers that took part in it with absolute precision,none of them ever missed a step.Hollywood could not produce such a film today, the talent is just not there. And Dick Powell and Gloria Stuart had a cute little number, in "I'm going shopping with you". The other production number "The words are in my heart" with 56 miniature pianos also great.
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For the Love of Money
lugonian19 December 2000
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (Warner Brothers, 1935), directed by Busby Berkeley, is a lavish musical set in New England's Wentworth Plaza, a summer fashionable hotel, featuring a cross section of people working or staying there, many wanting to make some extra money for themselves, hence the title "Gold Diggers." In this edition, the "Gold Digging" is done by both men and women, with the exception of the romantic leads. Dick Curtis (Dick Powell), a desk clerk working his way through medical school, is engaged to marry Arline Davis (Dorothy Dare), employed as a the hostess there. Guests at the swank hotel include Ann Prentiss (Gloria Stuart), the daughter of the ultra wealthy but stingy widow Matilda Prentiss (Alice Brady), who wants Ann to marry eccentric middle-aged millionaire, T. Mosley Thorpe (Hugh Herbert), but before Ann will commit herself into a loveless marriage, she wants to go out and enjoy herself first. Mother Prentiss consents to this, but with protection, by hiring Dick as her escort. In the meantime, Arline becomes interested in Humbolt (Frank McHugh), Ann's girl-chasing brother with four previous marriages. While Mosley gets time away from Ann to write a book about snuff, he is pursued by Betty Hawes (Glenda Farrell), a gold-digging stenographer. More complications ensue when the freeloading Nikolai Nicoleff (Adolphe Menjou), a Russian theatrical producer mooching off the hotel, is asked by the manager, Louis Lamson (Grant Mitchell) to stage a musical show that will not only help pay for his bill, but to help benefit the Charity Milk Fund. Sponsored by Mrs. Prentiss, she wants everything in the show to be "small and cheap." With all this is set aside, the real entertainment begins with two lavish production numbers choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

With the score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 opens instrumentally to "I'm Going Shopping With You," where employees, including bellboys and chambermaids, musically preparing the hotel for the upcoming guests. The song is later introduced by Powell as he escorts Stuart on a shopping spree, charging everything to her mother. This is later followed by the tender love song, "The Words Are In My Heart" sung by Powell to Stuart on the motor boat. For the charity show, the first number is "The Words Are In My Heart" introduced by Powell to Stuart in period clothes, followed by a parade of chorus girls playing the tune while sitting on movable white pianos. An excellent number that needs to be seen to be appreciated. When one thinks Berkeley cannot outdo that piano segment, stay tuned for the 14 minute finale, "The Lullaby of Broadway." Sung by Winifred Shaw, the big climax of hundreds of dancers in the night club sequence is an instant classic. This segment alone is usually clipped into movie documentaries, especially a segment into public television's 1971 90-minute presentation of "The Movie-Crazy Years," a look back into the history of Warner Brothers movies of the 1930s. "The Lullaby of Broadway" went on to win the Academy Award as best song of the year. While "Shopping" and "Words" are underscored throughout the story, with insert of "Tango Del Rio" from WONDER BAR (1934), only "Lullaby of Broadway" gives indication of one being inserted here from another movie or musical short, considering the fact that the song isn't heard at all until its grand finale, thus saving the best for last.

In closing, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 is grand scale musical showing that Berkeley handles his production numbers better than the weak plot. Alice Brady's character can often be annoying while the Warners reliables of Frank McHugh and Hugh Herbert tend to strain a bit for laughs. For character acting, Adolphe Menjou acquires a thick Russian accent to match with his comedic moments opposite Joseph Cawthorne as another heavily accented August Schultz.

Distributed to home video in 1989, and DVD many years later as part of the Busby Berkeley collection, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 often plays on cable television's Turner Classic Movies. (***)
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of course the plot is trite
degatina26 July 2006
Who cares if this plot has been seen before, and/or how many times? There is pure magic in this film, and the magic is the production number, "LULLABY OF Broadway". This picture deserves classic status for that number. It starts with the very affecting voice of a woman singing right to the audience. We are treated to an elderly Fred-and-Ginger type of dancing which, in spite of the ages of the dancers, is one of the smoothest, slickest, thrillingly romantic dance sequences you'll ever see. Then there is the tippy, tappy magic of ALL those dancers, tapping their way onto the screen. There is no better production number ever to appear in any movie. (I am allowed exaggeration; I am Sicilian). Do yourself a great favor and see this dance number.
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A masterpiece from Busby Berkeley
itsmits11 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Three production numbers with the finale being the apotheosis of group tap dancing. The 'Lullaby of Broadway' production number will probably never be duplicated. If one considers the time when this musical was produced, the effect of the Winifred Shaw special(Dick Powell actually finishes off the song)is a wonderful example of encapsulating the fast paced life of the Broadway of the 30's. "I'm Going Shopping With You" is a catchy tune but not of classic standards. Still the production of this number is entertaining.

"The Words Are In My Heart" does not start out well when first introduced by Dick Powell while sitting in the parked speedboat. Notice the strain on his voice in the line '. . .the moon above makes the mu-sic'. Very strident. He improves on this when he gets an opportunity to sing it again. '. . mu-sic' is much less strained. The production of this number with the pianos, however, is extremely enjoyable. The pianos seem to glide effortlessly across the floor and manage to mesh perfectly. Remember, this was done before computers and much hydraulic equipment. So how was this accomplished? If one looks closely under the pianos nearest the screen, unmistakably you will see a pair of black trousered legs propelling the outline of each piano as it glides into place. Imagine the hours of preparation and drill it took to perform this feat to produce the effect seen on the screen. That's how it was in the Depression 30's. This writer must confess that the visibility of the trousers was not noticeable until pointed out on a program discussing the film within the last couple of years. It certainly was not noticeable to the 12-year old who was fortunate enough to view this classic when it first appeared in the middle of the Depression 30's. These musicals helped to make the Depression bearable.
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1930s Kitsch
jblake12436 March 2005
Caught this one on TCM the other night.

Good music, lots of beautiful girls and an inane plot, humorously acted out by a talented cast. What more could anyone ask for? This is what the "movies" were all about when life outside the theater was in the middle of the Great Depression. You might be making 25 bucks a week and probably forked over a quarter to see this picture. For your money you were able to forget your troubles as you watched the Busby Berkeley dance numbers and listened to the tunes of Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Not a bad deal then and still enjoyable now on cable, video or DVD.

It seems to me that the actors of that era had more talent than most of those plying the craft these days. I also like the cast introductions, common to the era, showing a brief moment from the film, portraying the introduced in a flattering way. Style and class unfortunately seem to be in short supply in most films of the present era which has become much more concerned with finding new ways to shock or offend us as they happily take our money (9 bucks?).

Sure, there were better examples of the 1930s musical genre but this one really ain't all that bad. You could do worse than sit down and watch.
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Busby Berkeley at his surreal best.
bkoganbing18 August 2005
In 1935 with the country in the midst of the Depression this kind of escapist entertainment is just what the public wanted. And the studio best equipped to give it to them was Warner Brothers.

The Brothers gave complete creative control to Busby Berkeley having him direct the whole film instead of just the musical numbers. And the talented Mr. Berkeley hit one big home run with this.

Back during the late sixties when the nostalgia craze was going on Warner Brothers re-released this and Footlight Parade back in the cinema. It was quite the treat for me to see this first on the silver screen as it was for my parents and grandparents.

You never worry about plot or story in these films, they're just an excuse to plant musical numbers in the film. What plot there is involves tightfisted dowager Alice Brady both financing a charity show at a favorite summer resort hotel of her's. She's brought her two children along, the beautiful Gloria Stuart and the idiot drunken son Frank McHugh.

She's worried about some gigolo sweeping Stuart away as so many women have done with McHugh so she hires hotel clerk/medical school student Dick Powell to escort her. I think you can figure out the rest.

But we also have from the Warner's stock company Hugh Herbert as another eccentric millionaire staying there and goldigging stenographer Glenda Farrell and Dorothy Dare a goldigging clerk who respectively land their intended targets.

But borrowed from his usual haunts at MGM is Adolphe Menjou who steals the acting honors in a scenery chewing performance as a hammy Russian theatrical director who's a deadbeat chiseler as well. This film should be watched for him alone.

Harry Warren and Al Dubin contributed three songs for this film. Dick Powell sings The Words are in my Heart and I'm Going Shopping With you. But the real hit song was done by Wini Shaw in the huge production finale. I'm speaking of Lullaby of Broadway which won the second Best Song Oscar given out. it's Busby Berkeley at his surreal best.
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Favorite Part
wdtcm6 October 2004
While I love the songs mentioned above, my favorite part of the entire show happens at the top when all the managers of the different departments of the hotel are explaining to their employees why they won't be receiving a salary or a wage -- because of the massive tips they'll be receiving from the clients -- oh, and that each manager gets a cut of the vails, of course, as they aren't going to be in contact with the guests.

The editing is really nice, as it moves from department to department in the hotel. The monologue begins with the hotel manager talking to the bell boys, then the editing takes us to housekeeping, the restaurant, the bar, etc. and each manager picks up the monologue, ending with the hotel manager summing up his expectations.

I think that sequence opens an interesting window on what hotel workers might have dealt with back then.
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Worth seeing for the amazing 'Lullaby of Broadway" production number
runamokprods15 June 2012
As in Berkeley's earlier (and weaker) 'Dames', a pretty silly one-note plot is balanced by some amazing camera work and visual story telling in the musical numbers.

At least the story we have to put up with to get to the dancing is a bit less annoying, and the acting a bit better. Adolph Monjou is fun as a con-man, Dick Powell is a bit toned down and less annoyingly 'gee-whiz' as our hero and Hugh Herbert is a bit more fun as 'the rich buffoon' than Guy Kibbie in the earlier film.

And I will admit to sitting there, mouth open, saying 'how did he get those huge old cameras to do that?!?' And the huge, complex, dance number 'Lullaby of Broadway', often considered Berkley's greatest, is oddly, wonderfully dark in its implications. A whole story told in dance unto itself.
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Too Long To Wait For The Gold
ccthemovieman-16 November 2005
As a fan of the extravagant Busby Berkely song-and-dance numbers, I found it extremely disappointing that I had to wait almost an hour to see of these in here.

Before that, I had to endure an hour of angry people yelling at each other all the time, which wears thin, let me tell you. I am amazed audiences of the day would go for that sort of film when, during this time of the Depression, they clamored for more upbeat films.

Almost all the songs in here are ballads, too - slow stuff. The Berkely numbers are their usual spectacular ones, such as having 30 or so people all playing pianos on revolving stages. Now that's cool......but cool enough to wade through over an hour of the garbage first.
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preppy-313 January 2003
Busby Berkley directed this silly but very fun musical. The plots have Alice Brady, a very rich widow, losing a great deal of money while financing a huge musical put on by con man Adolphe Menjou (chewing the scenery); Dick Powell romancing Gloria Stuart and Glenda Farrell blackmailing Hugh Herbert. For once the dialogue isn't as bad as it is in most 1930s musicals with some truly funny comic relief. Also Berkley throws in two just unbelievable production numbers. One of them is set to "The Lullaby of Broadway"--the tap dancing in this one is incredible and it tells a story with a surprisingly depressing ending. Aside from the Berkley numbers however this is no great shakes but very pleasant and lots of fun.

Look for the hilarious scene where Powell and Stuart are on a lake supposedly at 9:00 at night but a wide shot shows the sun shining and a clear sky! And in the very next shot they're in a moonlit grotto! Didn't anyone ever catch this?
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I think this is even better than '33
zetes1 May 2006
Even without Busby Berkeley's trademark musical numbers, Gold Diggers of 1935 would be an utterly delightful comedy. From start to finish, it's a ball. Dick Powell and Gloria Stuart star. The supporting cast is full of Hollywood's finest character actors: Frank McHugh, Adolph Menjou, Hugh Herbert, Alice Brady and many more. Every single performer is excellent. And then, hey, there are these musical numbers! There aren't as many as in Gold Diggers of '33, but they're just as good. The song "Lullaby of Broadway" won the Oscar that year, beating out Berlin's Cheek to Cheek from Top Hat (probably undeserved, but it is a fine song). These gold diggers unearth a real treasure!
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disappointing , compared to some previous films in the Busby Berkeley-choreographed film series for Warners
weezeralfalfa1 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This was the last released of 5 films currently included in a Busby Berkeley films collection, consisting of Warners films released between 1933-35. So far, I've only seen "Dames", along with this one. "Dames" clearly was more entertaining than this one, to me. Some previous reviewers have come to a similar conclusion comparing this film to others in the series. The first approximately hour, before the 2 big musical production numbers is especially weak in entertainment value. Both films save the 2 big productions until the last part of the film. Thus, a boring or too inane screen play will make you want to hurry out of the theater before the best parts. In Berkeley's later 3 films costarring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, one of the big production numbers occurred midway in the film, and there were often smaller musical numbers early on. I consider that a better, and safer, format.

This film contains some commonalities and differences from the other 4 films in this series. Although Busby was the chief choreographer for all, each of these films had a different director. This is the only one of the 5 in which Busby was also the overall director. All featured Dick Powell as the male lead or co-lead and main male soloist, and all were scored by the composer-lyricist team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin. This film includes one of their best remembered songs : "The Lullaby of Broadway", used as the featured song in one of the big production numbers. However, it's not a love song. "Dames" includes another of their best remembered: "I Only Have Eyes For You", which was used as a featured love song in an informal setting, as well as in one of the later big productions. This is the only one of the 5 that was released after the Hays commission censorship fully kicked in, around mid-'34. It's also the only one that lacks Ruby Keeler as Powell's ingénue musical girlfriend. It also lacks the charismatic Joan Blondell, who was an important character in several others of the series(and would soon marry Dick Powell). It also lacks Ginger Rogers, who was another significant character in several of these films. In their places , we have only Gloria Stewart. Gloria developed many talents over the years. However, she had no appreciable singing or dancing talent at this time, and appears to have little chemistry with Dick Powell. Thus, she comes across as just another pretty face, among many in this film, whom Powell happens to single out as his girlfriend. Gloria's last film role, some 60 years later, is the one present audiences most remember: as 100 year-old Rose, in "Titanic". Although Gloria lived to be 100, she was actually 86 when this role was shot.

Middle-aged Hugh Herbert returned from several other films in this series to reprise his Ed Wynn-like humor. However, in place of Fred Mertz-like Guy Kibbee, as another older male comedic character, we have the quite different Adolphe Menjou, who enjoys shouting at people. He could be an effective part of the comedy, as in the later "You Were Never Lovelier". However, here, both he and Alice Brady, as Gloria's super-rich mother, with her periodic hysterics over her finances or daughter's romantic choices, often come across as more irritating than funny.

The two main musical productions consist of 1)many chorus girls supposedly each playing or cavorting around an identical piano, or 2)many male and female dancers dancing in unison, emphasizing the rhythmic sound of their feet. To me, these were far less interesting than the multiple kaleidoscopic patterns formed by the chorus girls, often seen in overhead projections, and other unusual features of the productions in "Dames", and some of the other films in this series. However, the segment with the apparently undulating 2 lines of pianos is an impressive accomplishment. As usual, Busby made the most of sharply contrasting black and white or neon in his musical productions. He would eventually get a chance to choreograph in color, albeit not until his career was in steep decline. "The Gang's All Here", with Carmen Miranda, is probably his first choreography in color. It certainly most clearly bears the stamp of classic '30s Warners Busby, among the half dozen Busby-choreographed color films I've seen. In the early '50s, he did the choreography for Esther Williams' "Million Dollar Mermaid" water ballets, having previously choreographed a water ballet in "Footlight Parade": part of the present film series. During this period, he also did the choreography for several of Jane Powell's musical comedies. Then, after a decade of no film credits, his last credited choreography was for the Doris Day-starring "Billy Rose's Jumbo": a most underrated musical comedy.
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Worth seeing--and a must-see if you are a Berkeley fan.
MartinHafer20 June 2011
I liked the way this movie began. You see the staff of a hotel readying the place for customers. However, Busby Berkeley gets them to actually parody his own style of movies as you notice that the staff start behaving in a choreographed manner--replicating some of the movies Berkeley had made prior to 1935. It's pretty cute and a nice start.

What follows are some amusing plots that really aren't all that important. In other words, while the antics of the cheapskate old lady and the huckster producer (Adolph Menjou) are fun, the plot doesn't amount to very much and just seems like padding until the amazing finale--a finale that is every bit Busby Berkeley. If you like this sort of over the top schmaltz, then you are in for a treat as you see scenes like the many white pianos (trust me--you just need to see it to understand), the extremely well choreographed dancing and the nice music. In particular, their rendition of "Lullaby of Broadway" is toe-tapping good.

While all of this is VERY familiar, you can't help but admire the work that went into making "Gold Diggers of 1935". As far as whether or not to see it, it all depends on if you like this style of musical--a style that went out of style soon after this movie debuted. Up until about 1937, such huge extravaganzas were the norm for Warner Brothers and they made a ton of them. But the style was completely obsolete by the 1940s--and it is something that probably will surprise most modern viewers not acquainted with this type of film. For what it is, it's very well made. Not the best of the type, but very good.
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Absolutely brilliant editing -- one of Berkeley's best
erikpsmith12 December 2009
Among the films Busby Berkeley was associated with, Golddiggers of 1935 is a standout. Other viewers have noted the astonishing "Lullaby of Broadway" sequence, which, yes, is everything they say it is. And the dreamy "white piano" sequence is pretty amazing, too.

But you know, there's more to it. And I think you just have to chalk this up to Berkeley's drill-team background. The sequences come off with such precision.

There's the crisp editing at the beginning, when the hotel managers are explaining the financial arrangements at the hotel to their employees. No pay, just tips, and make sure the managers are cut in. It's a funny bit, of course, but the way the film is assembled here accentuates the humor in a way you just don't see in your typical movie of 1935.

The part that really is memorable, though, is the sequence at the beginning where Dick Powell escorts his young lovely through the hotel lobby. I guess I really ought to go back and time it, but I think it runs for something like three minutes without a cut. And all the while, hundreds of extras are rushing back and forth, and you can tell the crew must have been dashing in and moving things that were just out of camera range. You know how much work that must have took? You know how everyone on the set must have been sweating at the 2 1/2 minute-mark, worrying that someone might trip and they'd have to start all over again? I have to wonder -- how many takes were required? It's a scene every bit as complicated as the celebrated opening shot of "Touch of Evil," and maybe more so, certainly a dozen times more tricky than anything in "Rope" -- and yet this one doesn't seem to be noted anywhere in the annals of Hollywood.

So let's just say that this film is one of Berkeley's most inventive and technically interesting offerings. And you know what else? It's a fun movie, too.
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I love Busby Berkeley BUT...
AlsExGal8 December 2018
... this is not Gold Diggers of 1933, Dames, or Footlight Parade. The story is downright disappointing. I realize that the story is not the main point of a musical, but still, the narrative and its execution here are inane. The reason is not that Warner Brothers or Berkeley or Warren and Dubin have lost their touch, but the Production Code put a dreary blanket of censorship over American films made after 1934 that was impossible to evade. Gloria Stuart, as the poor little rich girl being pushed into a loveless marriage with a middle aged millionaire with a goofy hobby, is lovely, but she just doesn't have the precode bite of the stunning Joan Blondell or the fascinating Ginger Rogers, nor is she the good girl shrouded in an air of mystery like Ruby Keeler.

There are only two decent Busby Berkeley numbers here. The first is "The Words are In My Heart", which has those interesting white pianos. To say that "Lullaby of Broadway", the second of two really interesting numbers here, is great, is an understatement. It combines eroticism, surrealism, and flat out psychedelicism to be one of the high points of the Hollywood musical. And like all of Berkeley's numbers, this is supposed to be a staged number but could only be done in film. How else do you transform the face of Winny Shaw into the island of Manhattan and back again? Not in the rest of his career, IMHO, will Busby Berkeley top this number. Without it this film would probably only be a 5/10. With "Lullaby of Broadway" it rises to a 7/10.
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This "Gold Diggers" is a treasure of a show because of Busby Berkeley's routines...
Doylenf4 November 2011
Shot in crisp B&W with some lavishly designed sets and brilliant lighting techniques, the musical numbers in this film shine because of the sheer genius of Busby Berkeley's fantastic routines.

The story is thin and silly, but from start to finish it's an entertaining show with Dick Powell and Gloria Stuart in the romantic leads supported by such stalwarts among character actors as Alice Brady, Frank McHugh, Hugh Herbert and Adolphe Menjou. Dorothy Dare and Wini Shaw are added delights.

It's the typical boy meets girl story with Powell assigned to be a protective escort (as a business proposition posed by wealthy Alice Brady) whose daughter wants some excitement in her life before promising to marry stuffy Hugh Herbert.

But once the songs start spinning and the clever camera work gets going, the viewer will appreciate all the effort that went into this undertaking. Especially striking is the final musical sequence built around "Lullaby of Broadway," first the segment with the white pianos and then the actual dance routine choreographed brilliantly by both Busby and the Warner cameras.

Striking talent on display here, worth a peek if you're a fan of the old Warner Brothers musicals. Alice Brady is a riot as the world's stingiest wealthy woman always devising ways to do things on the cheap.
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Very Enjoyable Musical
RickDJ9 March 2000
A nicely done musical, with Busby Berkeley at his peak. The "white piano" number and the Melody of Broadway number make this worth watching alone, but the rest of the movie is worthwhile too. Also interesting because this is the only movie that Berkeley had complete directorial control over.
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A Formula Worn Thin
evanston_dad27 June 2005
A tedious yawn of a film that retains nothing of the zing and raciness of its predecessor, "Gold Diggers of 1933." The Production Code was firmly in place by the time of this film's release, so the humour is all of the hokey, wocka-wocka variety and gone are the dry one-liners that sounded so cosmopolitan dripping off the lips of the gorgeous dames from the first film. A cast of second-tier stars and character actors go through the motions here, and the "puttin' on a show" motif seems awfully forced; instead of the make or break world of Broadway, the show here is a charity event hosted by a swanky hotel. Who really cares whether or not the show goes on? The score here is bland too. Of course the movie's big number is "Lullaby of Broadway," which accompanies a long fantasy dance number about a New York socialite's eventual demise from too much partying--doesn't exactly have the same effect as the searing "Forgotten Man" number used as the finale in '33. Busby Berkeley directs as well as choreographs this film, and whatever promise is built up in the film's fluid opening scenes quickly deteriorates. Unfortunately, no one learned any lessons from this, and there was yet another Gold Diggers movie two years later.

Grade: C-
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Fantastic prescience
chaswe-2840220 May 2018
This superb film is a spectacular presentiment of the evil already brewing in 1935; encompassing the relationship between capitalism and the great economic depression soon to culminate in the eruption of World War II, five short years later; and the silliness and inanity of the gold digging frivolity with which it was being preceded. It is only with the wisdom of the hindsight of multiple decades that Berkeley's instinctive perceptions of the evil to come can be fully appreciated. The unsurpassed climactic finale is both a reflection of the rise of fascism, and an anticipation of the catastrophe which would ultimately unwind. It's high art, besides the uniquely impressive musical numbers. The much derided plot is actually highly witty, and there is plenty of well-delivered, humorous dialogue. I found it funny, as well as disturbing. It should be understood as a satiric comment on the times, similar to the Berlin atmosphere later depicted in Cabaret. "Stop chewing on my fingers", says the deluded matron.
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The apex of the Warners' backstage series.
JohnHowardReid28 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Dances created and staged by Busby Berkeley. Camera operator: Stanley Cortez. (Available on an excellent Warner DVD).

Copyright 25 February 1935 by First National Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Strand, 14 March 1935. Australian release: 3 July 1935. 10 reels. 95 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Hotel desk clerk falls for heiress.

NOTES: Prestigious Hollywood award, Best Song, "Lullaby Of Broadway" (defeating "Cheek To Cheek" from Top Hat and "Lovely To Look At" from Roberta).

Also nominated for Dance Direction (losing to Dave Gould's Broadway Melody of 1936 and Folies Bergere).

COMMENT: Amazing isn't it that Buzz was defeated by Dave Gould for Dance Direction. Lively the Gould numbers certainly are, but "Lullaby Of Broadway" is easily the best thing Buzz ever did — and "The Words Are In My Heart" runs it pretty close. The only point not in their favor is that both are placed right at the end of the film — but, believe me, are they sure worth waiting for! The spectacular, extraordinarily moody "Lullaby Of roadway" is virtually a film within a film.

Of course, the preceding movie is by no means a chore. It was Buzz's first job as director of a whole picture, and he moves it along most entertainingly, making full use (as we might expect) of his backgrounds and decor, with corps of regimented bellboys flunking across marble inlaid floors, and Powell going on a shopping spree with Gloria Stuart.

The players are all highly appealing, and production values are superlative.

OTHER VIEWS: "Lullaby Of Broadway" — pure film and pure Hollywood — marked the apex of the Warners' backstage series. — Ethan Mordden in "The Hollywood Musical".
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Fabulous fluff
jamesrupert20148 June 2017
"Gold Diggers of 1935" is golden age Hollywood at its over-the-top best. Busby Berkley, the undisputed master of epic song and dance numbers, pulls out all the stops to enchant his depression era audience with escapist fantasies including dancing grand pianos and a surreal Broadway 'day in the life' (to the Academy Award winning song "Lullaby of Broadway"). The humour and acting style are a bit dated and the plot chiffon-light, but everything serves simply to set up the musical numbers, which are superb. All in all: a great film from a different time. Enjoy!
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