23 March 2004 | Ron Oliver
Berkeley Brings Home The Bacon
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.