5 November 2000 | marksweeney
THE HAPPY ENDING IS NOT THE END.
There is a pattern to 1930's Hollywood musicals; struggle to put on show proceeds alongside struggle for love to conquer all. And in the end both struggles are successfully concluded. It is a pattern that is broken by "Gold Diggers Of 1933". Sure, all of the usual elements are in place, including the Hungry, Penniless Showgirl Depression setting. But where this movie differs is in the fact that after the various plot strands are neatly tied up, it doesn't end. Instead, we are treated to the last big production number,"My Forgotten Man", as downbeat as it was possible to get in 30's Hollywood. All the Busby Berkeley musicals paid lip service to the Great Depression, but this one goes much further, as "My Forgotten Man" was the last, most enduring image of the film, and the one that audiences left the theatre with. It's placement was a brave decision on the part of whoever made it, and it would be interesting to learn of the public reaction at the time. Because while it is undoubtedly true that in an era of deprivation, you can't blithely make movies that are totally divorced from reality, it's equally true that people want to be reassured there is a better life, and they won't be scratching around in the dirt forever. Personally, I love the number, and it's placement. It's something that has fascinated me since my very first viewing 7 years ago, but it seems to be a point that not a lot of critics have picked up on. Perhaps it wasn't so unusual after all!