Thursday, January 21, 2010

73. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Running Time: 96 minutes
Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy
Written By: David Boehm, Erwin S. Gelsey
Main Cast: Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Warren William, Aline MacMahon

A MUSICAL HAT TRICK: PART THREE OF THREE

Well the three film long musical tribute has come to an end with the "Gold Diggers of 1933", and I must say it was a pretty good ending, as this film didn't fail to please and had a couple of really fun musical numbers.

The film opens with it's most ironic moment, when Ginger Rogers sings her rendition of "We're In the Money", even going as far as to sing one verse in pig latin, a moment that I thought was incredible. While Ginger is going on and on about having more money than she knows what to do with and lighting up the screen, she is interrupted by a group of I.R.S. agents who are there to shut down the show, due to lack of payment by the producer, Barney Hopkins. The Depression is hitting everyone hard and that doesn't exclude the lavish showgirls and big name producers of musical stage shows. Everyone in show business is basically put out of work and we focus in on our three main girls.

Polly, Carol and Trixie, the movies three main female leads, share an apartment and are flat broke. They even have to resort to stealing their daily milk from their neighbors and getting by on whatever food they have around the house. Then the news breaks that Barney is putting on a show, and the three girls see their big opportunity. Barney, later comes to the apartment to inform them that they'll all be needed, and that all he needs is at least $15,000 to put the show into production. Across the way, in the next apartment, he overhears Brad playing the piano and demands to see him front and center. Brad (played innocently by Powell) comes over to inform Mr. Hopkins that he writes his own songs and lyrics. Barney wants them in the show, as he feels they directly symbolize man's struggle in today's society and that they'll go great with that theme. Brad also tell Barney that he'll advance him the cash to put the show into production, as long as his main squeeze, Polly, has a feature role.

The show goes into production and Brad is hounded day in and day out, to play the lead male role in the show. He refuses, never giving any excuses, just flat out saying "NO!". When showtime comes, and the lead male can't go on, due to back injury, it's up to Brad to save the show and the livelihood of everyone involved. He agrees and the show is a hit. It comes out the next day, however, that the reason he didn't want to do the show (despite silent accusations from Trixie that he may be a bank robber) that he's a member of a blueblood family, who would out and out disaprove of his part in the show...and they do. He goes to visit them the next day, and while the newspaper has already informed them that he was in the show, he adds to it, by informing them that he'll be marrying Polly. His brother and the family lawyer, Fanuel H. Peabody, decide they must put a stop to all this business, declaring that showgirls are nothing but parasites and gold diggers. What follows, is a series of hilarious bits, where the girls play the rich men for suckers, sapping them of lots of dough.

While this wasn't my favorite musical of the three that I watched, it sits firmly at second place. I'd have to give the first place honors to "42nd Street". "Gold Diggers of 1933" had two really alluring musical numbers, in: "We're In the Money", which I thought was priceless, no pun intended and "Pettin' in the Park", a very catchy number performed by Powell and Keeler. There were a few down times of the film, but for the most part it was a good flick and one that I'd definitely see again, down the road. I should mention, before I totally wrap up this musical portion of the book, the choreographer, Busby Berkeley, who banged out an impressive three musicals in one year and all that included some marvelous routines. If nothing else, I'll certainly remember the name of the man behind all of those dance steps and set pieces that gave these films even more life than they already had. I also want to mention some fine actors/actresses who appeared in two or three of the flicks: Dick Powell, who was in all three and certainly a fine man to watch on the screen, Joan Blondell, who was in "Gold Diggers" and "Footlight Parade" and who I thought was fantastic in both roles and Ruby Keeler, who also did some amazing tap dancing and was a pretty good little actress back in the day. There were others, but those were the three that really caught my eye.

RATING: 6.5/10 Like I said there were a few down points, but all in all this more than just your average musical, it also had some good storyline points to go with it.

NEXT UP: She Done Him Wrong...With the musicals behind us...for now, we take a look at our first Cry Grant film. Review should be up later tonight, or tomorrow.

January 21, 2010 8:19pm

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