Gold Diggers of 1933 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gold Diggers of 1933 Reviews

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January 6, 2016
Amazing film. Still have "Forgotten Man" stuck in my head a week later...
Super Reviewer
June 8, 2014
A politically engaged (and very funny) musical that reflects the historical context to which it belongs and, clearly in favor of Roosevelt's New Deal, uses the magical transformation of the limited theater stage into a gigantic cinematic space to show that everything is possible.
May 11, 2015
I hate myself for having enjoyed this film.
½ January 25, 2015
Pre-code musical with classic Busby Berkeley dance numbers and a fun cast. You can tell that they were able to get away with a lot of things back in the day, which made the movie have more snap to it.

Grade: B+
½ September 30, 2014
Busby Berkeley's production numbers are the highlight of this rapidly-paced musical comedy: the highlights are the risque "Pettin' In the Park," the spectacular "Shadow Waltz," and the social statement "Remember My Forgotten Man."
½ June 8, 2014
This is about 3 movies rolled into one: gritty depression era drama, screwball/romantic comedy, and of course, Busby Berkeley musical. It excels at all three, and particularly the latter. The only problem with it all is, it's a little exhausting!
January 31, 2014
Not really my thing, usually. I had my fill of gold diggers a few years back. But I enjoyed this film a bit more expected, a bit more than for the sake of mere historical curiosity. Sure the Busby B numbers are trippy madness, up there with some 2001 sequences as "scenes to watch while stoned". If you're into that type of thing. (The baby in particular needs to be seen to be believed). The music didn't do much for me, but surprisingly the (sex) farcical comedy did - some pre-Hayes code goodness here, more than a few clever, cynical chuckles to go along with the predictable corn. "Peabody, you're disgusting".
December 3, 2013
Two great musical scenes, plus one of the few musicals with good, funny nonmusical subplots. One of the best musicals I've seen.
September 4, 2013
One of the best musical comedies of the 1930's, "Gold Diggers of 1933" pulls off quite a difficult feat: it has the Great Depression is a huge component to the plot.  Yet, it stills manages to have the feel-good tenderness and zany humor a musical should have. It features show-stopping musical numbers, great tunes, and fantastic comedic performances.  It packs a heck of a punch, and it's only 96 minutes long.
The film focuses around three gorgeous young showgirls; the sexy Carol (Joan Blondell), ingenue Polly (Ruby Keeler), and the wisecracking Trixie (Aline MacMahon). Unfortunately, the show they were performing in gets shut down, thanks to the spiraling economy. So they're out of the job; but things quickly pick up.
The women's neighbor, Brad (Dick Powell), is a songwriter, and he mysteriously funds their new show. He falls deeply in love with Polly, and of course she does back. As it turns out, Brad comes from a family of wealth, and so his elder brother (Warren William), who gives him most of his money, is suspicious that Polly is just a gold digger.
But fear not! Polly's friends aren't as dumb as the public might view them. They devise a scheme to distract Brad's brother from the truth, and so Carol pretends to be Polly while Trixie romances his partner in crime. Yet somehow, everything works out in the end.
Around the time the Great Depression rolled around, films never focused on what was truly happening in America, and instead made sure that everything on the screen was highly sophisticated -- not to mention the fact that 90% of movies had characters that were super rich (it's not hard to look towards the Astaire & Rogers movies).  "Gold Diggers of 1933" flips that mindset completely around, and it's somewhat ingenious.
After all, the film focuses around a group of showgirls eager to get jobs after the economic drop lost them.  The film itself ended up being one of the highest-grossing films of 1933, and it's easy to see why.  While the movie itself did feature some of the most glamorous stars of the day, they portrayed characters that were believable and relatable.  It's refreshing even today to see that a filmmaker such as Mervyn LeRoy could see that real-life didn't have to be romanticized for audiences to fall in love.
Though "Gold Diggers of 1933" DOES boast self-referential intelligence, it still is one of the most dazzling musicals of all-time.  One of famed choreographer's Busby Berekley's first gigantically popular films, the routines are simply marvelous to look at.  The opening "We're in the Money" number features beautiful girls dressed to the nines in coin-themed costumes, pulling off dance moves not even thought of today, while Ginger Rogers sings the theme of the routine with glee.  The highlight for sure, is the closing showpiece, the touching "Remember My Forgotten Man," which pays tribute to those we lost in World War I.  Though these two numbers are certainly excellent, the total four of them are so outrageous that it would be impossible to praise them highly enough.  Berkeley has outdone himself here.
Sure, what happens on stage in the film is most likely too over-the-top to really be serious, but "Gold Diggers of 1933" is a movie; and it's a great one.  It's rare that a musical can be so intelligent while still being lightweight, spectacular, and downright funny.
½ May 11, 2013
It seems to want to convince us that theater people aren't perversely sick in the head. I wonder who's responsible for that message.

Exceptionally clever & witty dialogue. Of course, the opening number is iconic.

The fake piano playing was obvious. The comic relief girl was annoying at times. When they are trying to swindle the rich men out of hats, they couldn't be more irritating.

The message: carousal with flirtatious show girls is the only way to be humanized, if you're slightly principled.

I wish it would've ended with the perfect setup of the older brother being convinced that the real Polly was a woman of good breeding, & insisted his brother go for her so he could prove to himself that he could get the girl he thought was Polly. Instead, he just finds out in the paper, & that whole potentially perfect ending is blown up.

However, all mockery aside, there is a heart to the story that finally arrives, & does win me over in the end. The characters I previously held in contempt, I began to care about. (Though the Trixie relationship is a bit difficult to believe.)

On another note, Busby Berkeley was brilliant.

Tremendous entertainment amidst & about the great depression.
Special props to Larry Miller for the recommendation & the podcast episode about it.
February 1, 2012
A masterpiece of the musical comedy genre, Gold Diggers of 1933 holds up surprisingly well in spite of a bit of sit-com-style writing in the second act. The writing is razor sharp, the cast is just about perfect, and the musical numbers are absolutley stunning. It was made just before The Code was heavily enforced on Hollywood films, and thank God it was. The film is like a time capsule of life during the depression, but never becomes depressing thanks to the wit in the dialogue and fantastic direction from Mervyn LeRoy and especially Busby Berkely. Gold Diggers of 1933 is a must-see for fans of musicals, and even if you're not, you might be surprised if you give it a try.
January 13, 2013
As entertaining as the Footlight Parade and 42nd Street. Such eye candies.
½ January 3, 2013
Tons of fun and extravaganza! Get ready for the closing scene.
January 2, 2013
This is one of my favorite musicals of all time
½ July 29, 2012
By itself, it's a pretty good romance film that is pure Hollywood, but when you factor in the musical numbers which are some of the most exquisitely shot and staged committed to film, it becomes something special.
Super Reviewer
September 27, 2012
Tastefully shot, playfully acted, and immaculately staged, this Depression-Era musical features a humorous and lighthearted script as well as some rather stunning stage performances. The cast does a phenomenal job of absolutely owning their respective roles, and legendary choreographer Busby Berkeley's music numbers do nothing but dazzle with their boundless creativity and focus.
February 20, 2008
Watch it not for the acting or story necessarily, but for the musical numbers. They are worth sitting through the whole thing. Beautiful music, awesome costumes, great dancing and singing of course, and amazing visuals (especially Shadow Waltz).
½ June 24, 2012
What made this movie work was the characters. Specifically the female characters. You get to know who they are and care about them and what they are doing or hoping for in the film. In a lot of films made decades later you find female characters are written as either generic girlfriends/wives, sex objects or he-women feminist types who "don't need a man". As a man it was refreshing to see female characters who are still feminine and girly but have a lot of depth to them. Modern day writers can learn a lot about how to write proper female characters from this film.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2010
Another beautiful film from the ingenious Busby Berkely, Gold Diggers is just as much about the social history of the United States during the Great Depression than it is a dazzling musical. Movies during this era weren't apt to prod a finger at the government, or point out the obvious calamities of the financial crash of 1929. I point specifically to the Astaire/Rogers films, which always had glitz and glamour, looking at the playboy angle of Astaire and the dilettante showgirl that was Rogers. What is great about Gold Diggers is that not only does it address the times, it also shows grandeur towards the rich and romanticizes love, just as the movie musical is supposed to. Because of its eccentricities and allowance to be different, it is much easier to distinguish it from the thousands of other movies of that time period which all portrayed the wealthy and luscious as the happy ones. Not only was it certainly different yet gleeful, it is serious in its intent in showing the poor and downtrodden of the country, especially in the last sequence entitled "Forgotten Man." That number shows the veterans of America who are now homeless and tarnished, one of the most moving song and dance numbers in a musical ever. Busby reuses past actresses Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers from his musical of that same year, 42nd Street. Both films had spectacular set design, visual effects, and lovely musical numbers. Though the music in this film was very intriguing and sticks in the brain, two of the three large scale musical numbers were confusing and didn't make sense in the context of the theater. There was still some great costume changes and background, but it was really, very, confusing. Through it all it's got a timeless sense of humor, that has survived throughout, as many good older films have. It's also good to see because it's a Pre-Code film, which deals with sexuality, pre-marital sex, and the times it was set in. Powerful in so many respects, it's one of the best examples of classic cinema.
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