A Movie A Day: Quint sees GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935) WHAT!?! That is dishonest! I’ll do it!
Published at: June 22, 2008, 4:55 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today’s movie was GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935, the third of three Busby Berkeley films we’re hitting on the list and strangely enough the only one to actually be directed by Berkeley himself. He directed and choreographed the musical numbers in all of them, but here he takes on the drama and comedy as well.
Berkeley regulars Dick Powell and Hugh Herbert return, playing very similar roles to what we’ve seen in the other Berkeley AMADs – DAMES and 42ND STREET. Herbert played the loony Cousin Ezra in yesterday’s movie and here he plays an even loonier multimillionaire Snuff expert (that’s the stuff that goes up the nose, not recorded murder) named T. Mosely Thorpe. Powell is an amiable hotel employee and this time his sweetie is Gloria Stuart, a nice change of pace since the last two flicks he’s been pining after Ruby Keeler.
Gloria Stuart, if you don’t remember, got a nomination for her return to the screen in James Cameron’s TITANIC as the elder Rose.
You can pick up on Berkeley’s direction straight away. The camera’s always moving, trick dissolves act as transitions and we get a much more musical feeling with choreographed daily chores around a grand hotel that is about to open.
The hotel attracts the richest people in the world as well as a flock of vultures trying to figure out how to feed off these eccentric rich people as they enjoy the grand opening.
Absurd comedy is close to defining these films. There’s an incredibly silly moment where four of these vultures, trying to scam investments on a charity show, are arguing over fractions. It’s dizzying and hilarious.
In terms of quality, the music, to me, wasn’t as memorable as either DAMES or 42ND STREET and this was the first series of Berkeley numbers that I felt went on for too long… although my jaw was on the floor whenever the girls at the pianos segment started. No less than 60 girls playing pianos that move in tandem, circling each other or rotating in unison. Yeah, I could see the black leotard legs moving the pianos, but there’s a moment where a line of these pianos waver back and forth so fluidly that I still can’t figure it out.
It’s a very likable movie, but of the main Berkeley I’ve seen it’s probably my least favorite. If you only have to watch one, I’d suggest either FOOTLIGHT PARADE or DAMES.
Here’s the schedule for the next 7 days:
Monday, June 23rd: MURDER, MY SWEET (1944)
Tuesday, June 24th: BORN TO KILL (1947)
Wednesday, June 25th: THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
Thursday, June 26th: TORN CURTAIN (1966)
Friday, June 27th: THE LEFT HANDED GUN (1958)
Saturday, June 28th: CALIGULA (1980)
Sunday, June 29th: THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)
Today ends our Busby Berkeley absurd comedies of the ‘30s, but we follow Dick Powell over the 1944’s noir MURDER, MY SWEET where he plays legendary private dick Philip Marlowe. It’ll be very, very interesting to see him go from the wholesome romantic as he’s portrayed in these films to a grittier noir world. I’m very much looking forward to it. See you folks tomorrow!