This movie is a gem if your a big fan of Busby Berkeley’s choreography as I am. Berkeley’s magic with the camera and setting up lavish and extremely gorgeous dance number’s is without measure. At times he would take advantage of every inch of stage space from wall to wall and floor to ceiling to capture his vision on film. This was the day of practicality and I highly doubt that anything he did in the 30’s could be matched today without the help of CG!!! Gold diggers featured 4 big dance numbers and featured a very young Billy Bartie who was just getting his start into motion pictures. All of Berkeley’s work is nothing short of breathtaking. His eye for capturing the brilliance, beauty, and elegance of theatrical dance pieces is extraordinary and is like nothing you have ever seen. Below is a quick plot summary of the film provided from Wikipedia and also included are some of the dance numbers from the film. Enjoy and happy 80th to Gold Diggers of 1933.
The “gold diggers” are four aspiring actresses: Polly the ingenue (Ruby Keeler, Carol the torch singer (Joan Blondell), Trixie the comedienne (Aline MacMahon), and Fay the glamour puss (Ginger Rogers).
The film was made in 1933 during the Great Depression and 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. He 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 (Clarence Nordstrom) 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 (Warren William) and the family lawyer, Fanuel H. Peabody (Guy Kibbee) 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.