Not my usual film choice you might note but after seeing it I’d of been well gutted if I’d never seen this. It’s like it says in the title, this film is from 1933! And shocker! it’s got boob silhouettes, girls in skimpy outfits, naked in the bath, risque conversations, innuendos and above all incredible choreographed sequences and one helluva brilliant Ginger Rogers ditty. Gold Diggers of 1933 is really fun, rather cheeky and absolutely stunning to look at.
I was put on to Gold Diggers by someone whom I’m afraid I just can’t remember. It was from a comment linking me to the trailer with the side note to check Ginger Rogers singing in a bizarre way? There I was sitting listening to the classic melody of We’re In The Money with all the scantily-clad showgirls whizzing around whilst carrying giant coins. It’s was halfway through when Miss Rogers character, Fay Fortune, transforms the song and really blows my mind. Transfixed by the up close and personal camera shot as Ginger Rogers pretty face fills the screen then she proceeds to sings in some sort of bizarre pig latin. It’s really strange and extremely cute.
Now I’m sure the mystery blogger was one of these three cool ladies. The suspects are one of the following* No 1) Pam All Things Thriller, No 2) Kristina Speakeasy or No 3) Maddy Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. One thing’s for sure all three of these ladies are movie recommendation machines. So drop what you’re doing and have pop on over to their sites for gander.
Yeah I know I’m probably one of the last people to have watched Gold Diggers but if like me and have no idea what I’m yapping on about! Here’s that video that hooked me and if like me you’d never heard of it, give it a go. It’s extremely entertaining.
Sing it Ginger (the pig latin bit starts at 1.35)
Bizarrely Ginger is more of a background character who sings those songs and then lets a trio of showgirls shine. With the beauty, Carol King (Joan Blondell), the comedian Trixie Lorraine (Aline MacMahon) and the more homely Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler) all in comical gold digging mode.
The Great Depression is in full swing, work and money is scarce. With hearsay of producer, Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) all raring to go on a brand new, all singing, all dancing stage play, the girls see a way to keep food on the table. Problem being that Barney Hopkins can’t fund the whole production. Lucky Polly got the hots for neighbour and songwriter Brad Roberts (Dick Powell) who is coaxed into helping out.
The lavish “We’re In The Money” sequence is amazingly just the opening scene of the film. There’s even bigger productions to come. All staged and choreographed by some dude called Busby Berkeley. Not being familiar with the musicals of the 30’s I’ve read that Busby was the master of devising elaborate complex shapes using big numbers of showgirls creating a kaleidoscope of patterns and amazing geometric visuals.
It’s raining, it’s blowing a hoolie, it’s snowing. These showgirls get everything thrown at them. Even a weird freaky baby? It’s frantic as the girls in massive numbers twirl, sing, dance, change outfits, spin, smile and all keep somehow in sequence. Then the whole thing flips and goes into WW1 carnage spinning back round to end on the depression. It’s quite the wonder to watch. Here’s a few imagines.
- Directed by Mervyn LeRoy who is uncredited to having been part of bringing The Wizard Of Oz to the big screen. If I’m honest I don’t know his films apart from the superb Three On A Match. Looking through his filmography I’ve stuck Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo with Spencer Tracy on my to watch list. That sounds like an excellent WW2 drama.
- I’ve only ever seen Dick Powell as tough noir characters in films, like in the films Cry Danger and Pitfall. So it was funny to see him all young faced, wide-eyed and singing.
- Billy Barty is the freaky baby boy running about during the “Pettin in the Park” number. He may of been only 3’9″ but you would of seen him all over the place. He was Gwildor in Master Of The Universe, High Aldwin in Willow and played Rumpelstiltskin in the 80’s fantasy film to name just a few.
- There’s a trilogy? Gold Diggers of 1935 and 1937 were also made? Any good? Let me know.
- Oh and with the director and producers taking full advantage of the pre-code era we find Miss Joan Blondell is in various states of undress.
The all dancing showgirl musical film genre is all new to me and I’ll confess to having really enjoyed Gold Diggers Of 1933. The grand scale of the dance routines are truly amazing but I would say that it’s the fact it’s a pre-code film that intrigued me most. Going in wondering what did they try and get away with? Surprisingly quite a bit. But it’s not all naughty little things and magnificent set pieces. It’s also fascinating to watch the four friends feisty their way through this film. Wise cracks, wit and comic banter aplenty, especially the double act of Aline MacMahon and Joan Blondell.
Now I need to keep my tough wolf exterior intact but say if, umm, say a friend of mine was, umm, like looking for others in this movie genre. What would you recommend?
Thanks for popping on by. Keep watching the squares. Mikey Wolf
PS *I have a sneaky feeling it was Pam? But whoever it was I’m very grateful. It was most excellent. Thank you