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Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 28 December 1936 (USA)
When two investors inform an opportunistic dancer that they can't fund an elderly stage producer's production, she suggests they get an insurance policy on the producer's life.

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Writers:

Warren Duff (screen play), Richard Maibaum (based on the play by: "Sweet Mystery of Life") | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dick Powell ... Rosmer Peak
Joan Blondell ... Norma Perry
Glenda Farrell ... Genevieve Larkin
Victor Moore ... J.J. Hobart
Lee Dixon Lee Dixon ... Boop Oglethorpe
Osgood Perkins ... Morty Wethered
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Hugo (as Chas. D. Brown)
Rosalind Marquis ... Sally
Irene Ware ... Irene
William B. Davidson ... Andy Callahan (as Wm. Davidson)
Olin Howland ... Dr. MacDuffy
Charles Halton ... Dr. Bell
Paul Irving Paul Irving ... Dr. Warshof
Harry C. Bradley ... Dr. Henry
Joseph Crehan ... Chairman
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Storyline

Stage-producer J.J. Hobart, is going to put on a new show, but he doesn't know that his two partners lost the money at the stock market. Insurance salesman Rosmer Peek falls in love with ex chorus-girl Joan Blondell, who's friend Genevieve tries to land on one of J.J Hobart's partners. They come up with the idea to insure J.J. for $1 Million, to get the money back when he dies. Rosmer sells him the policy. After the insurance company finds out that he's only a hypochondriac, an attempt to kill him accidentally fails, and Genevieve falls in love with J.J. But when J.J. is informed that he is putting on a show with no money he has a breakdown. The only possibility to restore his health is putting on the show, in spite of the lack of 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:

28 December 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vampiresas 1937 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

Multiple references to 'carloadings' being up, meaning an increase in the total amount of goods shipped by railroad. Back before stores ond other businesses reported total monthly sales, carloadings was the best available measure of consumer spending. See more »

Goofs

(at around 20 min) A string used to make a stack of books fall onto Dick Powell's head is clearly visible against the white paper background. See more »

Quotes

Genevieve Larkin: It's so hard to be good under the capitalist system!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The usual disclaimer goes to great lengths to assure us that "The names of all characters -- The characters themselves -- The story - all incidents and institutions portrayed in this production are fictitious -- And no identification with actual persons, living or deceased, is intended or should be inferred." See more »

Connections

Featured in Three Cheers for the Girls (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

All's Fair in Love and War
(1936)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Dick Powell (uncredited), Joan Blondell (uncredited), Lee Dixon (uncredited) and Rosalind Marquis (uncredited) with chorus
Danced by Lee Dixon (uncredited), Joan Blondell (uncredited), Dick Powell (uncredited) and Rosalind Marquis (uncredited) and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the last great Berkeley extravaganzas, and eerily prescient about modern American history.
26 June 2001 | by Alice LiddelSee all my reviews

Busby Berkeley's films are the most concentrated tease in the history of movies. it is over an hour into 'Gold Diggers of 1937' before we get any real meat - an astonishing, gossamer-erotic Gatsby-orgy filmed in the manner of Riefenstahl, all glowing Aryan bodies with their glistening mammillae, and idealised framing; with the kind of multi-character cutting of a song Paul Thomas Anderson would borrow for 'Magnolia'; and a magnificent extended tap-dance leading to an agreeable Berkeley fancy, the huge male dancer hand-standing over a bridge of female arms like a fly evading a web - after two tantalising duets featuring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler that threaten to explode into full-blown imaginative hysteria, but are cut short.

Of course, this is the Berkeley method - coitus interruptus - and our deferred gratification is mirrored in a plot where the hero must prove himself worthy of the heroine before he can have her; the final extravaganza thus functions as a sexual/marriage rite, concluding in a consummating kiss. And what an extravaganza it is - less overt than '1935', but full of fetishised phallic implements, swirling clitoral circles and rocking chairs. Against a sharp black background, our phosphorescent heroes play out their immemorial rites, the heterosexual struggle linked to war (and not to the men's advantage). This idea leads to some striking sequences, including a priapic cannon with a pair of adjacent ball-piles, and a scene of 'trench' warfare, where the skirted female soldiers in 'No Man's Land' triumph through a blitzkrieg of firearms and perfume. There is no way actual sex could ever be better than this.

It is traditional in celebrating Busby Berkeley movies to denigrate the plots as amiable, necessary time-passers before the visual disruption. I always find them highly entertaining, and '1937' has one of the best: an excellently plotted farce combining gold-diggers, an inept salesman, a hypochondriac theatre impressario and his corrupt sidekicks.

This fun plot is noticeable for two things - the extraordinary sexual honesty that persists in spite of Messrs. Hays' and Breen's best efforts: this is a Depression where a woman must prostitute herself for a meal, never mind a marriage; as Glenda Farrell says 'It is so hard to be good under the capitalistic system' (!). The film opens with Powell insisting on the link between financial security and marriage, and the glistening sea of gold moistening the opening credits certainly have a sexual force.

More enjoyable is the portrait of the two heels who try to kill their boss having lost all his money in a Stock Exchange scam, hoping to cash in on his insurance. this kind of plot is quite shocking in such a genre, and we are expected to laugh at various unsuccessful murder attempts (and we do: the whispers for help when they hurl JJ into the pool are hilarious). These are not cartoon villains but the kind of middle-aged, middle class men we might meet in film noir or the novels of Simenon, men whose souls have been made hard by routine, and the American insistence on success. They would have made good collaborators.

In 1933, the 'Gold Diggers' poignantly recorded the effects of the Depression: things haven't really improved four years later, but, significantly, the idea is emerging that if you throw enough razzmatazz, noise, bands and empty phrases at a problem it will go away. it's not for nothing that the two leads are an insurance man and an actress. Powell is amiable in a silly moustache, sillier name and a cheerful pessimism; Blondell is bubbly and serious and lovely as ever; the revelation, however, are Glenda Farrell, convincingly transforming from cynical modern woman to accomplice of scoundrels to loving wife; and Victor Moore, as the inimitable, whining, lonely JJ.


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