Gold Diggers Of 1933

  • 1933
  • 1 HR 34 MIN
  • NR
  • Musical

This critically undervalued paean to all-American cupidity is pure Depression-era gold, the funniest of all the Berkeley extravaganzas. The staff of a posh New England inn depends on the kindness of its clientele and everyone's working an angle, from conniving hotelier Mr. Nicoleff (Adolphe Menjou) to Dick Curtis (Dick Powell), a desk clerk raising the money...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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This critically undervalued paean to all-American cupidity is pure Depression-era gold, the funniest of all the Berkeley extravaganzas. The staff of a posh New England inn depends on the kindness of its clientele and everyone's working an angle, from conniving hotelier Mr. Nicoleff (Adolphe Menjou) to Dick Curtis (Dick Powell), a desk clerk raising the money he needs to attend a medical school. Even the customers have ulterior motives, like society dowager Mrs. Mathilda Prentiss (Alice Brady), who books a stay in hopes that her unmarried daughter, Amy Prentiss (TITANIC's Gloria Stuart as a young starlet) will hook a rich catch like T. Mosely Thorpe (Hugh Herbert). Naturally, Amy the ice maiden eventually melts for none other than the impecunious Dick Curtis, whose on-again/off-again girlfriend, fellow hotel employee Betty (Glenda Farrell) develops a serious crush on Thorpe's handsome bank account. Meanwhile, Mrs. Prentiss' dopey son, Humboldt (Frank McHugh), depletes the family's resources by serial marriage to money-grubbing chorines. In this sea of financial uncertainty navigated by sundry chiselers, Nicoleff magnanimously stages charity events, though the funds sometimes detour from their intended recipients. Bent on proving his worth, medical student Dick doctors the hotel's financially shaky musical revue, whose musical numbers ("Going Shopping with You") echo Dick and Amy's budding love affair. The show builds to the mind-boggling "The Lullaby of Broadway," a swan song (including a literal swan dive) for gold digging Broadway babies who've struck it poor. The critical consensus has always regarded this musical's spectacular finale as Berkeley masterpiece, but it offers an embarrassment of riches, including the snappy Harry Warren-Al Dubin score, the farcical mastery of Herbert, Brady, Farrell and McHugh, that most luscious of all thirties ingenues (Stuart), and other memorably staged numbers like "The Words Are in My Heart," a ballet for 56 baby grand pianos and their ladies.

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