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  • "Golddiggers of 1933" is a fun movie to watch because all the right elements that went into the making of this motion picture. Mervyn Leroy was truly inspired, and his direction clearly shows he was in total command. The contribution made by the incomparable Busby Berkeley is one of the best things in the film. His choreography for the big production numbers is one of the most impressive thing he did for the movies.

    The film is a sweet story about young hopefuls in New York trying to make it in the musical theater. Thus, we find the impoverished room mates, Carol, Trixie and Polly, who are so poor they have to steal their neighbor's milk! These young women are at the end of their rope when Barney, the Broadway impresario comes by to tell them about the new show he is working on. The only trouble, he has no money for it.

    How naive and wonderful those movies that came during the great depression were! Everything was possible, in spite of what was happening in the country at the time. In fact, this film, as well as others of that era, served as an excuse for people that were facing a hard time making ends meet for escaping it all when watching a movie like this one.

    The cast is excellent. Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline McMahon, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ned Sparks, Ginger Rogers, and Guy Kibbee giving performances that endeared them to the American public of the time.

    The production number of "Shadow Waltz" has to be one of the best ones in this musical genre ever produced. The number is an amazing one and a tribute to the man who staged it, Busby Berkley. It also help the chorus girls were dressed by Orry-Kelly and the music was by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.

    "Golddiggers of 1933" is one of the best movies to come out of the Hollywood of those years.
  • deuchler25 January 2006
    This is the most perfect example of "history on the silver screen" that I can think of. When Ginger Rogers says, "It's the Depression, dearie" at the beginning to explain the chorus girls' bad luck, it's the key to the whole film. While the "Shadow Waltz" number was being filmed during an actual 1933 earthquake in L.A. a number of the girls toppled off the Art Deco "overpass" where they were swaying with their filmy hoop skirts and their neon violins short-circuited. The electrical hook-ups were also rather dangerous, especially if the neon bows came in contact with the girls' metallic wigs in that number. The culminating production number, "Remember My Forgotten Man," is the most significant historically and illustrates Warner Bros.' "New Deal" sensibilities. Warner Bros. was the only studio that "bought" the whole Roosevelt approach to economic recovery. The year before, under Hoover, WWI vets were not only neglected in terms of benefits but were run out of their shanty town near the Capitol building. Starving guys were camping on the edges of most communities who'd served in the Great War fifteen years before. Of course, why or how this number fits into such a '30s girlie-type musical revue is anyone's guess. Berkeley never looked for reality, just eye-popping surrealistic effects.

    About ten years ago I found myself sitting next to Etta Moten Barnett at a Chicago NAACP banquet. I was flabbergasted. She was in her 90s yet still looked lovely. She's the singer who sang "Forgotten Man" in the window. She also sang "The Carioca" in Astaire and Rogers' first pairing, "Flying Down to Rio." She was quite gracious, though she did not have wonderful things to say about Hollywood of that era. The African Americans in both pictures were fed in a tent away from the general commissary area.

    Ruby Keeler has a certain odd-ball appeal, like a homely puppy. She can't sing, she watches her leaden feet while she dances, and almost all her lines are read badly. Yes, she was married to Al Jolson, but that may have HURT her career more than anything. He was not exactly always likable. He was much older than Ruby and so full of himself.

    This film is also a classic example of the PRE-CODE stuff that was slipping by---the leering "midget baby" (Billy Barty), the naked girls in silhouette changing into their "armor," the non-stop flashing of underwear or lack of underwear, Ginger Rogers having her large coin torn off by the sheriff's office mug so she's essentially standing there in panties, and so forth.

    A good comparison of before and after the code would be to examine this picture and "Gold Diggers of 1935." The latter is so much more chaste, discreet, and less fascinating except for the numbers. There's not the lurid, horny aura of the Pre-Code pictures. And it's not quite as much naughty fun, either.
  • I've heard of this movie for years, but didn't actually see it until last week when Turner Classic Movies ran it. And it is positively stunning!! On the surface, it moves almost like a carbon copy of 42ND STREET- right up to the last-minute switch in players before the curtain goes up (although in this film, it's Dick Powell instead of Ruby Keeler). But its astringent look at trying to play Tin Pan Alley smack in the middle of the Depression gives it a very adult and tragic significance. It still has the Berkley dazzle- from the "Shadow Waltz" chorus girls (and electric violins) to the now-legendary "We're In The Money" dress rehearsal fronted by a pre-Astaire Ginger Rogers. (I was a teenager when my mother mentioned that one verse of this song was actually sung in Pig Latin- and I swore for twenty-five years that she was pulling my chain. It is one of the cleverest vocal interludes I've ever seen and heard.) But the three girls implied in the film's title- Ruby Keeler, Aline McMahon, and especially the sharp, smart, and gorgeous Joan Blondell- are the best things in the movie. And Blondell fronts the sublime finale number "Forgotten Man-" which pays tribute to the men (and women) of WWI and the ironies which followed. The staging of it- the marching which goes from triumphant to tragic, the torchy, gospel-like vocal of Etta Moten (the black woman sitting in the window), and the pullback shot of everyone coming downstage at the fadeout- is truly spectacular.
  • New York City - the height of the Great Depression. Four showgirls, starving, scheming for that next role in a Broadway musical comedy. Looking for the Big Break. Auditioning for every part. Often down, but never downhearted. Using men, loving men, cheating men. These are the GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933.

    This is a wonderful comedy - funny, tuneful & easy on the intellect. Plus, the magic of Busby Berkeley's musical numbers. It's the kind of entertainment that kept audiences happy for a few hours during the dark days of economic despair in the early 1930's.

    The cast is first-rate: brassy Joan Blondell; cynical Aline MacMahon; innocent Ruby Keeler & on-the-make Ginger Rogers. Keeler lands handsome & mysterious Dick Powell, (who gets to croon some attractive Harry Warren tunes); and acerbic but loyal producer Ned Sparks.

    Warren William & Guy Kibbee turn up late in the proceedings, playing priggish bluenoses who are nonetheless highly susceptible to alcohol & feminine wiles. Movie mavens will recognize Charles Lane as a society reporter; Ferdinand Gottschalk as a disgruntled club member; and Sterling Holloway as a messenger boy.

    Some years back, in an introduction to a book about THE WIZARD OF OZ's Munchkins, dwarf Billy Barty stated that he was `too young' to appear in that 1939 movie. This, of course, is nonsense, and he can easily be spotted in the `Pettin' In The Park' number here. As he would in FOOTLIGHT PARADE, he rather disturbingly portrays a lecherous tot, a sure indication, if nothing else, that this is a pre-Production Code film.

    Mr. Berkeley does get to have some fun. The film starts with `We're In The Money' featuring Ginger Rogers & girls clad in coins large & small; Rogers even gets to sing one chorus in pig Latin. `Pettin' In The Dark' extols the joys of bucolic lovemaking, segues to simulated, silhouetted female nudity and rather bizarrely ends with the chorus all metal-corseted (Powell is given a can opener to use on Keeler). `The Shadow Waltz' is Berkeley at his most romantic, with its helix-skirted ladies pretending to play fluorescent, fake violins, all moving in a multitude of weaving patterns staged for the famous overhead camera shots. The film's emotional punch comes at the end, with Blondell's tempestuous rendition of `Remember My Forgotten Man' - with its endless marching men, a blues wail for the doughboys of the Great War, ruined by the Depression. The movie ends on this somber note. (Powell also gets to warble `I've Got To Sing A Torch Song').

    And just who are those hilarious, Yiddish Kentucky Hillbillies, anyway?
  • Mervyn LeRoy directs this irresistible and touching depression-era musical. Busby Berkeley's choreography is as breath-taking as ever, as are the bevy of beautiful women in the elaborate productions. Many great musical numbers highlight this film including "We're in the Money" in which a then unknown, Ginger Rogers sings in Pig Latin. A host of other oddities can be found as always when Mr. Berkeley is involved. Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell are sensational as dancing and singing lovebirds and all works out well in the end. The show does close on a noticeably strange note with the very powerful protest number regarding the depression called "Forgotten Man" masterfully delivered by bombshell, Joan Blondell. A truly original and memorable musical.
  • Made in the year when the global economic crash hit rock bottom, and the first signs of recovery began to appear, 'Gold Diggers' is very much a product of the Depression. Bread lines and penury are all around, but there is a jaunty air of optimism, too: "the long-lost dollar has come back to the fold".

    Polly, Trixie and Carol are three vivacious and attractive showgirls who room together and scrape a precarious living by getting hired for each new Broadway musical as it crops up, and riding their luck until it closes - which is often before it even opens. On the fringe of their group hovers Fay, the smart blonde with the waspish tongue (Ginger Rogers).

    The girls are 'gold diggers' in that they waste no opportunity to batten onto rich men. It is hinted during the course of the film that showgirls inhabit a shadowy region on the borders of prostitution, and the harsh economic realities of 1933 force the girls to regard their good looks as a marketable commodity.

    A kind of innocent carnality runs through the film. Our three heroines actually sleep together. Fay thinks nothing of changing clothes with Carol, and she gets her backside slapped several times - by both men AND women. Trixie bathes with the door wide open, while Carol preens herself in the scantiest of negligees. The girls contrive to embarrass a rich snob by having him wake up undressed in Carol's bed. The script is loaded with playful smuttiness - taking 'Back Bay codfish' for a ride, making bedroom eyes and so forth.

    It is in the show numbers, however, that the real naughtiness is on display. Busby Berkeley had had a phenomenal impact earlier in the year with his staged routines for "42nd Street", and a similar (but more risque) format is used here. Girls strip naked in silhouette, Ginger sings and dances all but nude for "We're In The Money", and metal chastity bodices are breached using can openers.

    Ruby Murray and Dick Powell once again team up as the ingenue lovers, this time playing Brad and Polly - "a knockout for the mush interest". Murray is all coy charm and Powell's tenor voice is magnificent. Ginger is, as always, a beautiful and intelligent performer. Watch her pull off the gibberish verses in 'Money', and breezing through the comic dialogue in the apartment scene. Joan Blondell as Carol is simply adorable. Her sad face during the trick played on Lawrence is enough to tell us that she is falling in love. Her performance as The Spirit Of The Depression in "My Forgotten Man" is one of the great images in cinema history.

    Warren and Dubin wrote the songs - and what songs! There are amusing, playful numbers like "Pettin' In The Park", with Berkeley choreography to match, and "We're In The Money" is deservedly famous. "In The Shadows" is a lovely ballad, with a set of geodesic walkways and electrically-illuminated violins. The spine-tingling climax is the anthemic "My Forgotten Man".

    "Pettin' In The Park" was originally intended to be the closing number (hence Polly in her park outfit during the final reel), but the running-order was changed. A reprise of "Pettin'" as aural wallpaper in the restaurant scene is an understated gem, with a lovely arrangement featuring muted cornets. In a nice little in-joke, the producer likes Brad's songs so much, he decides to fire Warren and Dubin. By the way - who is the girl who sits silently in the armchair throughout that long scene?

    The conception for "My Forgotten Man" was "men marching, marching, marching!" A sweeping epic is told in song and action as we see breadlines, tenements, Great War doughboys and much, much more - all in one song! Joan Blondell deters the heartless cop by pulling back the bum's lapel in a vignette of great emotional power. The musical styles range through torch song, jazz, blues and more. Listen out for the trumpet's counter melody as Joan speaks the verses, the negress on the window sill with the divine alto voice, the clarinet and sax obbligato after each sung line, and the gospel-style descant. "Gee, don't it get ya?"
  • 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!
  • with 42nd Street and Footlight Parade... Snappy, risqué, funny, great cast, great music. What more could you ask for? Joan Blondell, Aline McMahon, and Ruby Keeler are the gold diggers. Warren William, Dick Powell, and Guy Kibbee are their targets. Ginger Rogers is swell singing "We're in the Money" in Pig Latin. Ned Sparks, Sterling Holloway, Charles Lane, and Billy Barty are good. Great musical numbers including the opening "We're in the Money," the terrific finale "Forgotten Man" with Blondell and Etta Moten (singing in the window); "Petting in the Park" and "In a Shadow"---Powell and Keeler.... all classics. Fun all the way......

    Look for Hobart Cavanaugh, Grace Hayle, Busby Berkley, Clarence Nordstrom, and one of the roller skating cops sure looks like Jack Carson.

    Aline McMahon steals the show, and what a show it is!
  • lugonian19 January 2001
    GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (Warner Brothers, 1933), based on the 1919 play by Avery Hopwood, is a worthy follow-up to the recent backstage musical success of "42nd Street" (1933). Previously filmed as a 1923 silent, then an early 1929 musical talkie, "The Golddiggers of Broadway". followed by sequels in name only, "Gold Diggers of 1935, 1937," and "IN Paris," the Hopwood plot was later reworked again by Warners in 1951 in western setting as "Painting the Clouds With Sunshine," with Dennis Morgan, but the 1933 edition, in the opinion of many, is the best of them all. It's one of the few 1930s musicals that can still be seen and appreciated today, thanks to choreographer Busby Berkeley's genius of inventing such remarkable production numbers, and director Mervyn LeRoy's fast-paced story-line.

    The plot can be categorized in two parts. PART I: Roommate show girls, Carol (Joan Blondell), Trixie (Aline MacMahon), Polly (Ruby Keeler) and Fay (Ginger Rogers), give up their present jobs in order to appear in Barney Hopkins' (Ned Sparks) latest musical revue, FORGOTTEN MELODY. Barney wants to do a show about the Depression. In the meantime he is introduced to Brad (Dick Powell), an unknown composer, by Polly who loves him. Brad so happens to have the score Barney wants to use for the upcoming show. After rehearsals comes opening night. The juvenile leading man (Clarence Nordstrom) is unable to go on and Brad is chosen to take his place. After the show clicks, Brad and Polly become overnight stars. PART II: Millionaire snob J. Lawrence Bradford (Warren William), and his family attorney, Peabody (Guy Kibbee) arrive in New York from Boston in order to prevent Brad, J. Lawrence's younger brother, from disgracing the family name by appearing in the shows and getting himself mixed up with show girls, who have the reputation of being nothing but "chisslers, parasites and gold diggers." Because Brad wants a career in the theater and to now marry Polly, he refuses to listen to his brother. J. Lawrence decides to break up the relationship by meeting Polly and buying her off, but instead he meets Carol and mistakes her for Polly. Carol and Trixie decide to J. Lawrence and Peabody "for a ride" and "gold dig" their way into their wallets.

    Beginning and ending with production numbers, the movie opens with "We're in the Money" sung by Ginger Rogers both in English and in Pig Latin; followed by Dick Powell crooning "The Shadow Waltz" to Ruby Keeler from across her apartment window. Powell then sings the beautiful tune, "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song" while auditioning for Sparks. That song is underscored during the film's love scenes and tender moments. The stage shows include the lively and racy "Pettin' in the Park," followed by chorus girls in hoop skirts playing neon violins to "The Shadow Waltz," ending with the Depression theme, "Remember My Forgotten Man" a dark and moody number with Joan Blondell (wearing tight blouse and skirt)/sung by black singer Etta Moten, underscored in serious tone presenting dough-boy soldiers fighting at the front during World War I, and returning home to the states finding themselves hit by the Depression, becoming homeless and unemployed. Only Berkeley could take a very lively movie and end it like this. Of the four show girls in the story, only Ginger Rogers has little to do. Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee make an excellent "odd couple." Powell and Keeler continue to delight with their innocent charm, while sassy Blondell and no nonsense William make go with their love/hate relationship.

    While musicals have a reputation for having thin plots and strong production numbers, or visa versa, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 is strong on both counts and entertains throughout its full 96 minutes. Mistaken identity plot par excellence make this a breezy and merry affair. There are some Hollywood "in jokes" here that some viewers might not understand, with pre-production code risqué dialogue and scenes that will open many eyes before beginning to chuckle with amusement. Look for it. Excellent score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, with choreography by Busby Berkeley, make this one movie musical of the 1930s highly recommended to be seen and enjoyed, if above all else. (****)
  • Even better than the splendid "42nd Street," this first of the many "Gold Diggers" films is hitting on all its cylinders. When you have Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, and Ginger Rogers in the cast, the music of Harry Warren and Al Dubin, AND the choreography of Busby Berkley at his best, how can it be otherwise.

    Okay, so Ruby Keeler still can't sing on key and her stomping dance style leaves many cold. She does still have that aura of innocence that helped her so much in "42nd Street" and which makes her performance tolerable. She does have the magnificent Joan Blondell and the soon-to-be-legendary Ginger Rogers to fall back on and, believe me, both ladies are more than equal to the task. (I have long believed that Blondell was one of the finest comic actresses in Hollywood history and Ginger Rogers - well, there was a reason Fred Astaire partnered with her more than with any other. No one could do musical comedy and dance better than Rogers at her peak.)

    Yes, Berkley is an acquired taste. I find much of his later work a bit too precious for my tastes. Here, however, where he was still developing his style, it comes across as fresh and invigorating. Some of the numbers could have used a bit more rehearsal (low budget and a short shooting schedule probably nixed that) but they still all work and some are astonishingly good.

    Dick Powell is, as usual, splendid and in great voice. Those of us who remember his later career as an award winning dramatic actor and director may not be aware that he was originally a singer - and a damned fine one until cigarette smoking and age took its toll.

    Many might be a bit shocked by the bawdiness (naughtiness?) of some of the numbers. This was one of the pre-Hayes code films and it one of the reasons why certain groups of viewers were upset. None of it is dirty but some certainly disturbing to the sensitive. (See "Flying Down to Rio" or "Footlight Parade" for other examples of pre-code examples.) I find it all pretty tame but, in 1933, some considered this scandalous and nearly pornographic. We are talking skimpy clothing and innuendo, nothing more, but this was the 1930s and censorship was getting ready to rear its ugly heads. (See Chaplin's masterful "Monsieur Verdoux" for his not-so-subtle jabs at censorship.)

    "Gold Diggers of 1933" is a certified classic and should not be missed by fans of the musical or early Hollywood. Just remember that its a product of its time and not the present age and enjoy it for what it is.
  • krorie5 December 2005
    This is one of the greatest movie musicals of all time. Some would say the best of them all, including the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly classics. It is one of the few musicals of the 1930's and 40's that ventured to include social commentary and social criticism with the comedy and music. The "Remember My Forgotten Man" number is one of the best, some would say the best, choreographed song and dance of them all. It is sort of icing on the cake coming as it does near the end of this amazing film. Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" would use the "We're in the Money" opening number as a backdrop to emphasize the irony of the outlaws' dilemma, since most persons living in the southwest in 1933 were certainly not "in the money." The only one actually watching the movie is Bonnie. "Gold Diggers" is filled with New Deal aphorisms. I have never read anything about the new President FDR's reaction to "Gold Diggers," but I'm sure it was a positive one, since it helped promote his economic ideas concerning recovery as outlined in the writings of British economist John Maynard Keynes.

    There are so many goodies in "Gold Diggers" that it is easy to miss many of them on first viewing. Many throwaway lines are gems. For example, when Barney (Ned Sparks) is hyping his new musical that he will make if he can only get the money together, he beams, "Why, it's the funniest thing you've ever seen." One of the hoofers replies sarcastically, "I don't know, have you ever seen me ride a pony?"

    This was the apex of Busby Berkeley's career. He came close a few times but never reached the lofty heights of "We're In The Money," "Pettin' in the Park" and "Remember My Forgotten Man." Tunesmiths Warren and Dubin reached their apogee as well. This is one of those rare animals where everything down to the minutest item jells. It is a winner all the way. Strange that the only true gold digger in the film is Ginger Rogers.
  • homerj20826 April 2006
    While certainly not the most riveting movie to come out of Hollywood during it's golden era, it certainly is one of the most fun ones. My favorite of the Busby Berkeley/Warner Bros. musicals it is the quintessential backstage musical.

    While the story is secondary to Berkeley's numbers, the movie's premise is about four chorus girls trying to find work during the height of the depression. Show after show gets canceled when the girls finally get a rich financier posing as a poor song writer, played by Dick Powell, to back a new production. Warren William does an excellent job as always playing the brother and benefactor of Dick Powell's character. Ruby Keeler has always been much maligned but I she is not as bad as advertised. And Dick Powell while an excellent singer, is no Spencer Tracy.

    The four major numbers include the cheery "We're in the Money" with Ginger Rogers proclaiming that "old man depression is through". However the depression rears it's ugly head when the police have to interrupt the rehearsal and shutdown production due to debt.

    "Pettin in the Park" is a racy number by 1933 standards (you can definitely tell this movie is pre-code Hollywood), featuring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler this song preaches that getting affectionate with your loved one in public ain't so bad.

    "The Shadow Waltz" is a visually pleasing masterpiece to say the least. Featuring Powell and Keeler again and a countless number of chorines with neon violins, it is more spectacular then anything modern day special effects can produce.

    "Remember my Forgotten Man" with the lovely Joan Blondell is a change of pace. More serious, more subdued it is a powerful reminder of how important our dough boys were just 15 years or so earlier.

    Featuring an all star cast, a capable director and the genius of Busby Berkeley Gold Diggers of 1933 is one of the best musicals to come out of Hollywood during the 1930's.
  • This masterpiece from 1933 is one of the best examples I've seen of early Hollywood exploitation, although by today's standards if you didn't already know it was controversial at the time you probably wouldn't notice. With the introduction of the talkies in the late 1920's, Hollywood seemed unable to control various movies using subtle innuendos, and actresses displaying a bit more skin than they should until the Hays Code came into full force in 1934, which enforced the boundaries as to what was deemed acceptable on screen. Gangsters profited from crime, women displayed their legs, and in the case of Gold Diggers Of 1933, women used their sexuality to conquer men and gain what they wanted.

    Set during the Depression, it follows a quartet of stage dancers after their show is stopped due to the creative director failing to pay the bills. Things look on the up when the girls are asked to return for a brand new show, which would tackle the effects of the Depression on the common man and the state of the country. The enthusiastic director Barney (Ned Sparks) overhears the girls' neighbour Brad (Dick Powell) crooning a tune playing his piano, and invites him to play more tunes and eventually write the score for the upcoming musical. Barney also needs a lot of money to fund, something that Brad is happy to pay in case, much to the girls' suspicion.

    It comes across as a film with two halves - the first focusing on the development of the musical, the relationship between Brad and dancer Polly (Ruby Keeler), and the confusion surrounding the shady Brad's situation. The second seeing fellow dancers Carol (Joan Blondell) and Trixie's (Aline MacMahon) attempts to squeeze as much cash as possible out of Barney's upper-class brother Lawrence (a brilliant Warren William) and bumbling Peabody (Guy Kibbee). The first is a masterclass of beautiful stage numbers, fantastic songs, and good old-fashioned escapism. The second is where the film hits full stride, providing laugh out loud situations and some verbal comedy that wouldn't look out place today, as the girls flirt with and tease the old men as we cheer them on. It's the kind of thing that Sex And The City wishes it could pull off when it isn't being so materialistic and soulless.

    When you think it's over it pulls off one last masterstroke in the highly effective 'Remember My Forgotten Man' musical number, as Joan Blondell sings about how her man fought for her country and now begs for food and resorts to picking up discarded cigarette butts, as bloody soldiers march through the street. It's a beautiful moment and really sums up the era. It offers an insight into the whole Pre-Code Hollywood movement, where people would go to the cinema to escape their everyday struggles to see an actress like Blondell revealing a bit more leg than she should, or a Pre-Code veteran such as Warren William sneer his way through some juicy lines and villainous roles. It gave the general public that little something extra to get excited about.

    This is a film that has everything, and if you can track it down I would urge you to see it. It's a fascinating time capsule, and even has a very early role for Ginger Rogers as the flirty Fay. It has also been entered into the National Film Registry for preservation by the Library of Congress. A must-see.
  • Steffi_P11 March 2010
    In Hollywood's most successful collaborative era, sometimes the best things happened by accident. Gold Diggers of 1933 was set to be a routine backstage romantic comedy, but after the runaway success of 42nd street with its spectacular dance numbers choreographed by Busby Berkely, studio heads decided to make a few changes and shoehorn in some Berkely routines. What should have been a mess, turned out to be a masterpiece. You see, it happened by accident, but not without overwhelming creative genius from all corners.

    First of all let's disregard Berkely for a moment and consider the bones of the picture. This was a golden age for Warner Brothers, and even their potboilers tended to be meaty offerings. The broad plot may be a simple comedy of errors, but the minutiae and the dialogue are unashamedly frank about the depression, then at its very worst point. The fact that the comic escapades are backed by very real and harsh truths gives an unexpected layer of poignancy to the proceedings. Yes, the man-baiting escapades of three money-hungry chorus girls makes for riotous entertainment, but we are never allowed to forget how they became money-hungry.

    The director is Mervyn LeRoy, who despite his youth was one of the most competent and professional filmmakers on the Warners payroll. He directs Gold Diggers with pace and punch, never allowing the action to slow down and become dull, but still keeping everything in clarity. A neat little trick of his is using depth to keep certain characters on display. For example, in the scene where Don Gordon (the perpetual juvenile lead) is doubled up with lumbago, Gordon and Ned Sparks are in the foreground, but Dick Powell is prominently placed in the background. Gordon is the most important character at that precise moment, so it is logical to have him up front, but Powell is more important in the long run as he will soon replace Gordon, so it is necessary for us to remember him at that time.

    The cast is one to die for, or at the very least, go to prison for. Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler are ostensibly the leads, but the show really belongs to Joan Blondell and Aline MacMahon. Powell was a great singer, and Keeler a wonderful dancer, but neither of them could act well. And thankfully, while they are prominent in the song and dance numbers, they are really supporting players in the drama. Blondell was prolific in both musicals and melodramas of this time, but tended to play "best friend" type roles rather than leading ladies. Gold Diggers is her chance to shine, and show what a terrific actress she is. She plays things at a fairly muted level, but there is a lot of emotion going on under the surface. When she appears in the Forgotten Man number she not only becomes a singer, she carries on being an actress. MacMahon at first looks a little out of place amongst all the sweet and delicate chorines, but as soon as she gets to work her magic on Guy Kibbee she dominates the screen and you know exactly why she was cast. A young Ginger Rogers is here too, still getting villainous roles thanks to her mean-looking face, but nevertheless proving herself to be a superb performer. Ned Sparks gives perhaps his deepest and most heartfelt performance, without ever once breaking out of his trademark character. Amid all these sparkling jewels, there are some memorable bit parts by the likes Ferdinand Gottschalk and Sterling Holloway, yet more pearls in the Gold Diggers crown.

    And at last we come to the music. Of course, the melodies of Harry Warren are simply divine, the lyrics of Al Dubin cheeky and incisive as ever, and the choreography of Busby Berkely absolutely breathtaking, but it's how the whole thing is fitted together that puts Gold Diggers so far ahead of its peers. Most of the Berkely musicals "stacked" the numbers - that is, put them all together at the end as a grand finale. That worked fine for 42nd Street and Footlight Parade, but for Gold Diggers of 1933 the structure is geared to awesome effect. We open with "We're in the Money", a lively slice of irony casually wishing the depression away. "Pettin' in the Park" gives us a little comical boost in the middle of the picture. "Shadow Waltz" is pure Berkely indulgence, lovely to look at but with nothing that will unbalance the end of the picture emotionally. And finally, "Remember My Forgotten Man" drops us right into the realities of the depression. It is a bitter counterpoint to "We're in the Money" and its impact is utterly devastating.

    Gold Diggers of 1933 is not only the finest of the Busby Berkely musicals, not only the pinnacle of Warner Brothers' pre-code licentiousness, it is the very heart of depression-era America. "Can't you hear that wailing?" Ned Sparks asks us, as Dick Powell hammers out a rough version of "Forgotten Man". You'll hear it alright.
  • This is supposed to be a pseudo-remake of 1929's "Gold Diggers of Broadway", except in the four year interim the Great Depression is in full swing and our gold diggers have hit on bad times like everyone else. The second Berkeley film in the Warner series of musicals starts off with Ginger Rogers singing "We're in the Money" in an outrageous number in which the chorus girls are all dressed in over-sized coins. As Ginger sings part of the number in pig-Latin, the whole thing seems surreal, and in a way it is. The sheriff breaks in on the number to repossess everything on the set to settle the debts of the show's producer, and the gold diggers are out of work again. I don't know why I keep calling them gold diggers, because this cadre of chorines are just looking for steady work. They have abandoned all hope of getting millionaire husbands to take them away from all of this.

    Brad Roberts (Dick Powell) comes to their rescue when he comes up with both the money and the songs for a new show that broke but creative producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) has in mind. Thinking that Brad is penniless like the rest of them, the girls at first think Brad is playing a tasteless joke before he produces the 15K, and that he is a bank robber on the run afterwards. This is reinforced by his refusal to make any personal appearance in the show. In fact Brad is a young man from a wealthy New England family who is hiding his work in the theatre from his snobbish old-money relatives who soon surface to reclaim him in the person of his brother, Lawrence (Warren William), and the family lawyer (Guy Kibbee). When they find out Brad is planning to marry one of the girls (Ruby Keeler), Brad's brother decides to find the girl, flash his cash, and thus romance her himself, since he presumes she is a gold digger. He figures this will prove to Brad just what kind of girl he has fallen for. Unfortunately, Brad's brother doesn't know what she looks like. And that's where the fun starts.

    There's some great pre-code comedy here particularly from Joan Blondell, not to mention her stirring performance of "Forgotten Man" about World War I soldiers who are now marching in Depression Era bread lines. Also not to be missed is "Shadow Waltz" with the chorus girls playing fake fluorescent violins that would occasionally short out and shock the girls.

    Guy Kibbee and Aline McMahon are both terrifically funny and touching in one of the film's subplots as two people who find genuine love later in life than they may have wanted and originally planned. They are basically reprising the roles played by Albert Gran and Winnie Lightner in Gold Diggers of Broadway. However, Aline MacMahon has a subtle even homespun brand of humor versus Lightner's brash style.

    As in The Gold Diggers of Broadway, the film ends with the show itself, but these are two entirely different shows for two entirely different eras. The 1929 film ends with chorus girls parading around in elaborate costumes and decorated by two-strip Technicolor while acrobats and tap dancers strut their exhilarated stuff. The 1933 film ends with a number about forgotten men marching both off to war and back to bread lines in spartan black and white. A powerful ending for a great piece of entertainment.
  • Though my favorite Busby Berkeley film is Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933 certainly has a lot to recommend it even for audiences today.

    The Goldiggers in this case are three female room mates, Aline McMahon, Joan Blondell, and Ruby Keeler. Keeler has a big crush on a struggling songwriter across the hall from them who of course is Dick Powell. He writes some good songs, so good that he gets the invitation to write a whole musical show from producer Ned Sparks. But he refuses to sing and star in the show as well.

    Come opening night and unlike 42nd Street where Ruby Keeler had to step in for an injured star, here it's Powell who reluctantly steps in on opening night after getting a lecture from Joan Blondell about what it means to all the company who will be once again out of work during the Great Depression.

    Poverty isn't something that Powell readily grasps. He's really a trust fund baby from a prominent Boston blue blood family and they don't like the idea of one of them in show business. Powell's brother and head of the clan Warren William gets wind of what Powell's been doing and threatens to cut him off and cut off the budding romance with Keeler.

    In step Blondell and McMahon who go after William and family lawyer Guy Kibbee. The situations they put these two in are pretty hilarious and quite a commentary on the prevailing morality of the day.

    For the most part Gold Diggers of 1933 is the typical escapist fare that Warner Brothers musicals usually were. But unlike the other Gold Digger films this one takes a serious turn. More mention here is made of the Great Depression than in the others.

    Also in that Remember My Forgotten Man finale that must have struck a resonant chord with the audience of 1933. A year before World War I veterans were dispersed from Washington where they had encamped demanding payment of a promised bonus with tear gas. That incident probably sealed the re-election chances of President Herbert Hoover who was on the rocks already. That imagery conveyed by Busby Berkeley of those marching men going clockwise and counterclockwise in a kaleidoscope is riveting today, I can only imagine what it was like for contemporary audiences.

    Harry Warren and Al Dubin wrote a fine score with Remember My Forgotten Man sung by Joan Blondell, WE're in the Money sung by Ginger Rogers and a female chorus and Dick Powell singing I've Got to Sing a Torch Song, Shadow Waltz and Pettin' in the Park the last two with Ruby Keeler.

    Powell also made records of his songs and We're in the Money. I've Got to Sing a Torch Song and Shadow Waltz were also recorded by up and coming radio and film crooner Bing Crosby. Bing's version of I've Got to Sing a Torch Song is one of his best early records.

    The wonderful fantasy musical numbers of Busby Berkeley will never go out of style and some of the best are right here.
  • Chorus girls Carol (Joan Blondell), Pollu (Ruby Keeler) and Trixie (Aline McMahon) all room together but can't find a job. Because of the Depression nobody can afford to put on a musical. However piano player Brad (Dick Powell) can help someone put on a musical and that leads to a big hit show. There's more to the plot than that but who really cares? This movie was done to show some incredibly elaborate Busby Berkley numbers and it DOES give you that!

    Right from the slam-bang opening of Ginger Rogers singing "We're in the Money" (with one entire verse in Pig Latin!) this movie never stops. It moves VERY quickly, there's tons of overlapping dialogue and there are plenty of wisecracks and risqué jokes (mostly from McMahon). This is also an odd musical that uses the Depression as a main plot focus--back in 1933 people went to see musicals to FORGET about the Depression! The elaborate Berkley musical numbers are incredible to watch--especially "Pettin in the Park" and the one with all the chorus girls having glow in the dark violins! Also it ends on a downbeat note with the depressing "Remember My Forgotten Man" number. Still this isn't TOO depressing---just very interesting. Easily one of the best musical from the 1930s. Highly recommended.
  • The second entry in the Warren-Dubin-Berkeley Warner Bros. musical series is almost as good as 42ND STREET. The plot is rather too silly to hold our undivided interest through the mid-section of the film but the cast is attractive and varied enough to keep us watching. Ginger Rogers in particular has seldom if ever looked so scrumptious.

    Early in the proceedings there is a scene in the golddiggers' apartment where dour, penniless producer Ned Sparks launches into a speech about the necessity of producing a whole musical show about the Depression, focusing on the "forgotten men," down-and-out World War I veterans who had made headlines in the summer of 1932 when they marched on Washington demanding early payment of government bonuses previously pledged to them. The first half of the script is filled with references to hard times. Audiences today may be impressed with this full-on recognition of the Depression, but they should be aware that Warner Bros. may well have been inspired to tackle this issue in a musical by AMERICANA, a Broadway revue that ran in late 1932 (several months before this film was made) and featured the E.Y. Harburg-Jay Gorney ballad "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" which became a mega-hit and in fact is now considered "the anthem of the Depression." "Dime" and the revue that spawned it were openly focused on "the forgotten man." In this film, the Dick Powell character - the composer/lyricist who writes "My Forgotten Man" - explains that he got the idea from walking past the breadlines in Times Square. That is almost exactly the explanation given by Gorney and Harburg about why they wrote "Dime." In this sense, Broadway beat Hollywood to the punch in depicting a serious reality of the times, but Hollywood, as usual, was quick to catch on, imitate and cash in. The Warren-Dubin song "My Forgotten Man" is lyrically and musically slightly less artful than "Dime" but works brilliantly on screen with the visual element and clever casting, ending with a spectacular flourish. In a way, it's "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" from a female onlooker's point of view. The context of this film is as interesting as its content. Just imagine: an era in which Broadway set the tone and took the lead in popular culture. Nowadays Broadway trails miles and miles behind TV, movies and popular music.
  • This, the first in the series of Gold Diggers films still in existence, is the best, the sparkiest, the funniest, and the strongest. Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Warren William, Ginger Rogers, and then some ... what a great cast! Wonderful musical numbers with that distinctive Berkeley choreography. A crackling script which still packs a punch now. And, best of all, that wonderful finale 'Forgotten Man', where Great War veterans shuffle through a world that doesn't care while the women left behind remember their happier days ...
  • With the success of "42nd Street," Warner Brothers wasted no time adding Busby Berkeley musical numbers to "Gold Diggers of 1933." Starring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, this musical also has some of the same Depression darkness that permeated "42nd Street." "It's the Depression, dearie," Ginger Rogers says as the show she and her fellow chorines are laboring in closes in rehearsal due to lack of funding. However, Brad (Powell), a composer in a nearby apartment who's sweet on Polly (Keeler), offers to give Ned Sparks the money he needs to produce his new show. His only condition is that Polly be featured. Everyone wonders where he got the money, and a news item plus the fact that he refuses to appear in the show make the girls suspicious that he's a bank robber. In fact, he's the scion of a wealthy man (Warren William), who soon appears on the scene with his attorney (Guy Kibbee) when Brad steps in for the lumbago-ridden juvenile lead. Polly's roommates Trixie and Carol (Joan Blondell and Aline MacMahon) go to work on the two immediately.

    Though the film has some fantastic numbers - "We're in the Money," "The Shadow Waltz," "Pettin' in the Park," and great Busby Berkeley choreography, the middle section has no music and drags on as the gals meet the men, get them to pay for expensive hats, etc. This is probably because the film was completed when the musical numbers were added. But the final number is worth the whole film. "Remember Your Forgotten Man" is a tribute to the World War I soldiers now out of work in the Depression, and not only are the production effects and choreography fantastic, but the singing as well, particularly the solo work by Etta Morton. Blondell, who from the sound of it in Dames was completely tone deaf, is beautifully dubbed here.

    Ginger Rogers shines in a supporting role especially with her pig Latin lyrics to "We're in the Money" which were added after she was heard fooling around in a rehearsal. Powell is in gorgeous voice in all the numbers, but "I've Got to Sing a Torch Song" is a high point.

    It's easy to watch the dancing, the beautiful women in their costumes, and listen to the singing and forget what in fact was going on in the '30s - after all, that's why these films were made. But the "Forgotten Man" number serves as a reminder then and today that for the people sitting in the theaters, their troubles were right outside the door.
  • While "42nd Street" gets most of the acclaim today I think that "Gold Diggers of 1933" may be the best all-around effort among the Busby Berkeley musicals. The story concerns a Boston blue blood songwriter who finances a Broadway show and ends up taking the stage at the last minute. However, when his brother hears about his undignified behaviour he comes to town in order to put an end to his newfound career & romance.

    The cast is a fine one which produces several entertaining performances. A number of the actors are "42nd Street" alumni, including Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks & Ginger Rogers. Warren William, Joan Blondell & Aline MacMahon join them to make up an enviable cast.

    Mervyn LeRoy was in the director's chair and he did a pretty good job but the obvious attraction here is Busby Berkeley's peerless musical numbers featuring the music of Warren & Dubin. From the opening number "We're in the Money" to the visual splendour of "Pettin' in the Park" & "The Shadow Waltz" it's clear that we're seeing and hearing something special. However, I question the use of "Remember My Forgotten Man" as the closer since I consider it the weakest and least 'fun' of the numbers.

    Minor complaints aside, "Gold Diggers of 1933" is an entertaining musical containing some stellar work from Busby Berkeley along with catchy songs from Warren & Dubin. Unlike some of the other Berkeley musicals the story here is more than just an excuse to show some musical numbers, which I think elevates it above the pack.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wonderful, brash, funny and pertinent Depression-era Warners musical, with the musical numbers famously directed by genius choreographer Busby Berkeley. "We're In The money" sets up this terrific movie, an attention-grabbing number that immediately overloads the audience with dazzling visuals. From the sexy "Pettin In The Park" to the quite astonishing "Shadow Waltz" (complete with glowing violins- see the electric wires!), Berkeley sure lives up to his reputation as a master. His trademark kaleidoscope shots of chorus girls are beautiful. The film is not only a great is a document of the Great Depression. The haunting "Remember My Forgotten Man" is justly the most remembered number in the film, with soldiers marching off to fight in the Great War juxtaposed with the breadlines in the Great Depression.

    Looking at the acting, I must say that Ruby Keeler had one of the more fascinating careers of any performer. Plucky Keeler is cute and likable, but, as she readily admitted, she wasn't much of a singer, actress or dancer. And she was a big Warners musical star in the early 30's. However, Joan Blondell is wonderful and Ginger Rogers threatens to steal the film whenever she appears. Heck, I think she may have stolen it when she did the Pig Latin! It's a pity she only had a minor supporting role. If the Best Supporting Actress category was around in 1933, Aline McMahon was a shoe-in, a delicious comic performance. The men? Dick Powell is very watchable, but Warren William is as stiff as a board. I see he was one of the most popular pre-code men. Maybe in the other films he was in he projects a personality, but here he doesn't. Lucky Miss Blondell is so great opposite him, otherwise I couldn't take him at all!
  • Now this is actually a movie that lives up to its reputation. It's a greatly fun musical comedy, with a good story, fun characters and great musical moments. It features some true classic musical songs.

    It's next to a musical also really a comedy. Not the usual slapstick '30's style of comedy but the more sort of 'fun' comedy, with good comical dialog and character's chemistry. And then considering that the movie is set in- and involves a story around the great depression of the '30's. What makes the fun level of the movie work out so well are the girls. They are really the main characters of the movie and all have some good chemistry together and all an own great strong and entertaining personality.

    The acting is quite good, especially considering 1933 standards and despite not having any real big names in it.

    It's a really well made movie, with lots of pace and class. It makes the movie effective on many levels. It's very effective on the musical level due to its fine musical numbers and grand looking choreography of it all. It's also very effective on its comical level and also with its story it is trying to tell, as well as all of its romantic aspects involved. It also makes this an effective movie about the great '30's depression. The movie is basically a great combination of all of these effective elements and there is a great balance between all of it. So there is basically something for everyone to enjoy.

    Delightful, entertaining, sparkling musical comedy!

  • Warning: Spoilers
    After maybe about 15 years, I finally got to watch Gold Diggers of 1933 again and boy, it's even better than I remembered it! First off, there's the wonderfully fantastic opening number "We're in the Money" as warbled by Ginger Rogers in a skimpy coins costume especially as she also sings it in Pig Latin making it such an iconic scene to this day (I also remember it being presented as a lottery commercial in Jacksonville, Florida, when I lived there during the '90s). Then after the rehearsal is closed because of lack of funds, producer Ned Sparks then, months later, proposes to the other chorus girls a show about the Depression of which songwriter Dick Powell already has a song for but no words yet. By the way, the other girls are Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, and Ruby Keeler. Also, Sparks says a couple of ironic lines like "Cancel my contract with Warren and Dubin!" of which he meant the songwriting team of Harry and Al who wrote all the songs in this movie, and then comparing the team of Powell and Keeler to the Astaires on Broadway of which one of them, Fred, would eventually find a new partner in Ms. Rogers, who was in this scene, at RKO later in the year. There's also Warren William and Guy Kibbee in support of which the latter plays a similar role here as he did in 42nd Street except here, he's not in charge of the finances of the show nor does he ever realize he's being used by Ms. MacMahon. Oh, and while Ms. Rogers eventually became his new ingénue in 42nd Street, here she never gets the chance! Oh, and as a fan of It's a Wonderful Life, I have to note that Charles Lane, who was the one who told Mr. Potter about George Bailey's plans for Bailey Park, was the writer in 42nd Street and is the society reporter here who finds out about Dick Powell's real-life status. Powell, himself, is quite fine here whether singing "Pettin' in the Park" with Keeler-hey, get a load of 9-year old Billy Barty pulling the curtains as those girls are dressing up!-or being involved in the machinations of humiliating brother William. As for Berkeley, well, he tops himself here with not only the "Money" number but also another one involving neon violins and then there's the "Forgotten Man" number as first recited in spoken word by Ms. Blondell before segueing to Etta Molen singing those same words as we see many former World War I soldiers marching in the rain before those same men then end up on long lines at the soup kitchen before Joan then sings (through Marian Anderson's voice) the harrowing coda. Very powerful number to end a movie and it still feels heartbreaking just remembering it. So with all that, Gold Diggers of 1933 is not only still very funny and entertaining, it's also something worth thinking about when one remembers the era it was made and set in...
  • In "Gold Diggers of 1933", after the cast has been introduced, the first beautiful face you see is that of Ginger Rogers. Pre-Fred (they would be teamed later in the year in "Flying Down To Rio"). And she is a truly radiant beauty with a huge smile. She belts out one of the signature songs of the 1930's, "We're In The Money". At one point of the song she sings an entire chorus of the song in Pig Latin. That's right, Pig Latin. And we're off to the races.

    This movie, following the success of "42nd Street" was developed in an obvious attempt to get the audience to forget the harsh times they were living in for 98 minutes and just let go and enjoy themselves. And right from the start that happens. Even 70 years later, we still find ourselves in trying times, and this movie lovingly enables you to forget "life" for a while, and surrender to it's wonderful music and humor.

    The cast is first rate. Especially Ned Sparks as the producer, Ginger Rogers as Fay Fortune, Guy Kibbee as "Fanny", and Joan Blondell, who looks very sexy during the finale, "The Forgotten Man".

    And the score by Warren and Dubin(who is not credited for some reason) is perfect. "The Forgotten Man"(a "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" knockoff), "We're In The Money", "Got To Sing A Torch Song", and one of my favorites, "Shadow Waltz".

    Yes, it's a musical. Yes, it's fluff. Yes, it's badly dated. Yes, it's a 98 minute cliché. Who cares?! This is a must see for any film enthusiast. Sit back, relax and I dare you to try not to enjoy this film.

    8 out of 10
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