6.5/10
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22 user 8 critic

Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)

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

The song "Hush Mah Mouth" by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg was written for the picture but not used in the final print. 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

References Polo Joe (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

Life Insurance Song
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Sung by Dick Powell and ensemble
Played by a Marching Band
See more »

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User Reviews

 
middling story, mighty musical finale
25 February 2010 | by mukava991See all my reviews

The high point of Gold Diggers of 1937 is Busby Berkeley's staging of "All's Fair in Love and War," an all-American dose of surrealism, like a militarized, scrubbed and bleached opus by Bunuel or Dali. It hypnotizes and amuses, mixing silliness and wisdom, finesse with crudeness. And it never hurts to have at one's disposal such raw materials as a superior Harry Warren melody, and in this case, a better-than-average Al Dubin lyric.

The other songs in this light-dark comedy fare less well. The two main entries by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen ("Speaking of the Weather" and "Let's Put Our Heads Together") are routine and interchangeable; when they merge in a poolside extravaganza, it's hard to tell where one leaves off and the other comes in. Harburg and Arlen also contributed the cynical "Life Insurance Song," performed only fragmentarily by Dick Powell, but it's quite sharp ("You'll get pie in the sky when you die, die, die…."). Sadly, Warren and Dubin's splendid "With Plenty of Money and You" is deprived of a big splashy production number all its own.

The plot is actually not bad for movies of this type. Various bad guys, in cahoots with gold digger Glenda Farrell, try to profit from sick old theatrical producer (Victor Moore) by taking out a million dollar life insurance policy on him (innocently sold to them by Dick Powell) and then putting him into unhealthful situations which will maximize the chances of his quick and convenient demise. The proceeds will finance their new musical, which will be a big money- making hit. It's a nasty scenario when you think about it, spun out with a pretty good share of racy double entendres.

Powell, in his 4th year of warbling wholesomely for the brothers Warner and sporting an unflattering mustache, looks like he's just about to roll back his eyes and shout "Enough!" but he manages to deliver the twinkle, the vitality and the sonorous vocals that made up his screen persona. Joan Blondell as his love interest is also beginning to show signs of wear. Her voluptuous chorine days are drawing to a close, but she can still pull off the act; as usual, she doesn't even attempt to sing and merely speaks her lyric lines. Victor Moore, Broadway veteran and seasoned character comedian, brings great nuance and even pathos to a role that might have been played as sheer low-minded slapstick by a lesser actor. Lee Dixon as one of Powell's fellow insurance salesmen comes off as a rather eccentric supporting actor in search of a screen personality until it is revealed that his primary talent is tap dancing, which he displays with great energy in the poolside number. But when you see the truly amazing footwork of the dancers in the 1929 Gold Diggers of Broadway (fragments of which are included as an extra feature on the Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2), you realize that Dixon by comparison was an eager but clumsy beginner.

So this late entry in the gold diggers series isn't as bad as one might expect. It would have been better, perhaps, if some of the performers had been more youthful and less sick and tired of playing the same types year after year and if there had been more socko musical numbers.


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