Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936) * 3/4

Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Choreographed by Busby Berkeley. 100 minutes.

There is a string of musicals produced in the 1930s by the Warner Brothers Studios, all with choreography by the legendary Busby Berkeley -who also directed a number of pictures.

42nd Street (1933) **** was directed by Lloyd Bacon. Cast: Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, George Brent, Bebe Daniels, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, et al.

Footlight Parade (1933) *** 1/2 was directed by Lloyd Bacon. Cast: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, and others.

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) ***1/2, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Cast: Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, etc.

Dames (1934) ***, directed by Busby Berkeley and Ray Enright. Cast: Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Zasu Pitts, Guy Kibbee, Hugh Herbert, etc.

Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) ***, directed by Busby Berkeley, starred Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart, Alice Brady, Glenda Farrell, et al. all products of the Warner Bros. Studios.

Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936) ** 1/2. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Cast: Dick Powell. Joan Blondell, Glenda Farrell, Victor Moore, et al.

The star-rating of those films is not mine. It comes from what may be the best-selling movie guide. I tend to accept the ratings above, except for the last movie on the list which gets ** 1/2 and which I consider to be much too generous. The movie does not quite flunk thanks to its last-minute salvaging by yet another, spectacular, precise, geometric number by the legendary choreographer Busby Berkeley. That sequence somehow compares visually Love and War. It is not Berkeley's best, but even so it impresses with its mechanically ordered movements and sights.

Otherwise it is dull stuff. You wait some 45 minutes before the first song (not good), 15 additional minutes for another (also not good, and with routine tap-dancing) plus a brief assortment of dancing girls.

The plot is something about a one-million dollar insurance on theatrical producer Victor Moore. Note that it was an enormous sum in those Depression days. Moore, being in his late 50s, is considered to be very old. This says something about life-spans in the 1930s.

There are two perfunctory love affairs: the first, between Dick Powell and Joan Blondell (the two were husband and wife 1936-1944); the second, between Victor Moore and Glenda Farrell. The latter gives rise to the only funny line in the flick: "double-crossed, by a fan-dancer!" Otherwise the movie leads to the traditional "the show must go on!" ending.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel