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Gold Diggers of 1935

Posted by martinteller on July 17, 2010

The first film where Busby Berkeley had full directorial control, not just the musical numbers but also the narrative.  And well, he should have left the narrative elements to someone else.  The story isn’t terrible or anything, but it’s pretty hackneyed and uninteresting.  Alice Brady makes a very obnoxious antagonist as the miserly mother of the heroine (no longer Ruby Keeler or Joan Blondell, but non-singer Gloria Stuart).  Dick Powell doesn’t really get a chance to show off his charm, except in a couple of very nice songs.  Hugh Herbert’s eccentric performance (oh, those hand gestures!) is mildly entertaining, but except for a few stand-out moments you’re basically just waiting for the big show at the end.  But what a payoff.  “The Words Are In My Heart” features dancing grand pianos in gorgeous precision.  Then there’s “Lullaby of Broadway”, a beautiful and haunting epic piece, culminating in a tap dance of roughly 100 people in perfect syncopated unison.  They’re both amazing numbers, and they make it a lot easier to forgive the first hour of mostly lame comedy.  Rating: 7


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