Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gold Diggers of 1933

Dawn, I know you posted about this film earlier, but I decided to add some more things for this contribution to the 30's.

The "gold diggers" are four aspiring actresses: Polly the ingenue, Carol the torch singer, Trixie the comedienne, and Fay the glamour puss.
The film was made in 1933 during the Great Depression contains numerous direct references to it. It begins with a rehearsal for a stage show, which is interrupted by the producer's creditors who close down the show because of unpaid bills.

At the unglamorous apartment shared by three of the four actresses (Polly, Carol, and Trixie), the producer, Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks), is in despair because he has everything he needs to put on a show, except money. Then he accidentally hears Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), the girls' neighbor and Polly's boyfriend, playing the piano. Brad is a brilliant songwriter and singer who not only has written the music for a show, but also offers Hopkins $15,000 in cash to back the production. Of course, they all think he's pulling their legs, but he insists that he's serious – he'll back the show, but he refuses to perform in it, despite his talent and voice.

Brad comes through with the money and the show goes into production, but the girls are suspicious that he must be a criminal since he is cagey about his past, and will not appear in the show, even though he is clearly more talented than the aging juvenile lead they have hired. It turns out, however, that Brad is in fact a millionaire's son whose family does not want him associating with the theatre. On opening night, in order to save the show when the juvenile can't perform (due to his lumbago acting up), Brad is forced to play the lead role.

With the resulting publicity, Brad's brother, J. Lawrence Bradford and the family lawyer, Fanuel H. Peabody discover what he is doing, and arrive in New York to prevent him from being seduced by "gold diggers". Their goal is to break up the romance between Brad and Polly.

Lawrence mistakes Carol for Polly, and his heavy-handed effort to dissuade the "cheap and vulgar" showgirl from marrying Brad by buying her off annoys her so much that she goes along with the gag in order to eventually pull the rug out from under him. Trixie meanwhile targets "Fanny" the lawyer as the perfect rich sap ripe for exploitation. But what starts as gold-digging turns into something else, and when the dust settles, Carol and Lawrence are in love and Trixie marries Fanuel, while Brad is free to marry Polly after all. All the "gold diggers" (except Fay) end up married to wealthy men.

A terrific cast of Ruby Keeler as Polly, Joan Blondell as Carol, Ginger Rogers as Fay, Aline MacMahon as Trixie and Dick Powell as Brad. Four more Gold Diggers films would follow: Gold Diggers of Broadway, Gold Diggers of 1935, Gold Diggers of 1937, and Gold Diggers of Paris.

1 comment:

  1. Monty, I'm so glad that you posted about the 1933 movie, GOLD DIGGERS. You can not talk enough about this wonderful film, with some of the best Berkeley numbers. The "Shadow Waltz" is gorgeous with all of the chorus girls play their neon violins... drifting on a beautiful cloud. This fun movie is sprinkled with wise cracks and good clean fun that will make you glad that you took a trip back in time.