Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Broadway babies !

GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933. This delicious Pre-Code Warners musical is not as well known now as some of those others like 42ND STREET or DAMES. Its only over 80 years old!  When I was a young movie buff back in the '60s old musicals like this were camp heaven and one would troop along to the National Film Theatre to enjoy them ..... but 50 years later they are hardly seen now. This new edition is a Spanish dvd which also has 42ND STREET, but I already have that. So, its back to 1933 ...

Broadway babies Joan Blondell, Aline McMahon and Ruby Keeler are out of a job as the new show they are going to open has been closed. Its the Great Depression and everyone is broke. The girls share a cold-water apartment and have to steal a bottle of milk from next door .... Ruby is pals with that nice young chap Dick Powell - he of course is a secret millionaire.   Brassy Ginger Rogers (who opens the film with "We're in The Money" with those risque costumes, gets wind of a new show and soon they are all busy again. We're "Petting in the Park", and the climax is that stunningly staged "Remember My Forgotten Man" a hymn to the men returned from the war who now are shuffling in bread lines for free meals from soup kitchens.  Polly (Blondell), Trixie (McMahon) and Carol (Keeler) are the chorines, and Ginger is the knowing Fay.
The choreography of course is by Busby Berkeley, with some of his best routines, its snappily directed by Mervyn LeRoy, costumed by Orry-Kelly, cinematography by Sol Polito,  and also in the cast are Warren William, Guy Kibbee, Eric Blore, Busby himself (the call boy), and a young Jane Wyman is one of the Gold Diggers ! This is the one where that precocious tot  (a midget playing a baby) presents Powell with a can opener so he can open those metallic costumes! 

The production number of "Shadow Waltz" has to be one of the best in this musical genre; the music was by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. That number and of course that Depression anthem "Remember my Forgotten Man" as sung by Blondell (and Etta Moten), show Busby Berkeley at his best.  Its fun seeing the young Ginger and Joan here, Ruby is endearingly clunky as usual, and its fascinating seeing the young Aline McMahon, whom I know from her older roles in films like I COULD GO ON SINGING in 1963, where she plays Judy's assistant/confidante, making a real character out of a role that barely existed on the page. The older Blondell too was terrific in THE CINCINNATI KID among others. How Depression audiences must have lapped these up back then, and we can still enjoy them today. How about GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 ?

1 comment:

  1. Still the best of all the Warner Brothers musicals!