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Gold Diggers of 1933

Released May 27, 1933 1h 36m Musical Comedy List
100% Tomatometer 13 Reviews 86% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings
Things get tough for Carol (Joan Blondell) and her showgirl pals (Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon) when the Great Depression kicks in and all the Broadway shows close down. Wealthy songwriter Brad (Dick Powell) saves the day by funding a new Depression-themed musical for the girls to star in, but when his stuffy high-society brother finds out and threatens to disown Brad, Carol and her gold-digging friends scheme to keep the show going, hooking a couple of millionaires along the way. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (13) Critics Reviews
Richard Brody New Yorker The movie thrives and survives on Berkeley's genius; for all his spectacular theatrical flair, he's a sociobiologist in rhythm. Jan 27, 2014 Full Review Nell Minow Movie Mom Rated: 4/5 Nov 12, 2004 Full Review Mattie Lucas From the Front Row Capture(s) Hollywood decadence combined with Depression-era resentment of the elites and mistrust of the Washington establishment with grand, dreamlike relish. Rated: 3.5/4 Mar 23, 2022 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy Gold Diggers of 1933 opens with a smashing musical number, "We're in the Money," and closes with the equally riveting "Remember My Forgotten Man." In between is the usual plot about a bunch of swell guys and gals attempting to put on a show. Rated: 3/4 Feb 12, 2022 Full Review Grant Watson Fiction Machine This is a superb film. It sparkles with wit, and entertains with aplomb. Rated: 7/10 Dec 13, 2021 Full Review Fernando F. Croce CinePassion The Depression as a period of artists in suspension, Busby Berkeley to the rescue Sep 26, 2015 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Alec B Like a lot of these showbiz musicals from the 30s the screenplay is rife with not only clichés but completely similar plot points to five other movies that were released in the same year. That said this has some truly great sequences ("We're in the Money", "Pettin' in the Park", "The Shadow Waltz", and "Remember My Forgotten Man") Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/09/24 Full Review Matthew B The 1930s may well be the only decade in history when being a gold digger was something that could be regarded sympathetically. Even 1980s films such as Wall Street which had a character declare that ‘Greed is good' were intended to be viewed ironically, and not with approval. What made the 1930s different was that serious recession was gripping the United States, the worst economic times in recent recorded history. Many people were struggling with crippling unemployment, and had few prospects of finding work. This was reflected in the cinema of the 1930s, where the managers of successful film companies sought to tap into the frustration and wish fulfilment of an audience of cinema-goers who were facing hard times. Gold Diggers of 1933 responded to the Depression by offering up escapist fantasies to the audience, whilst also being grounded in the hard realities of the age. Like many comedies of the era, it is essentially a war of the classes in which the poorer people get the upper hand. However, as might be expected from a movie made by a wealthy film company, this social commentary only goes so far. In the end, the film suggests, what poor people want most of all is to become the very wealthy people they apparently despise. The resentment is tinged with envy, and the glorious displays of prosperity are felt to be more appealing than repugnant. This ambivalence is reflected in the film's opening song, "We're in the Money". An array of leggy dancing girls pass through a doorway with a dollar sign over the top. They are wearing cumbersome dresses made out of coins. At the centre of the group is a familiar figure, here playing a minor supporting role. It is Ginger Rogers, and she is wearing an outfit in which a giant coin is strategically placed around her crotch area. This will be a film in which sex and money are closely linked. Such a display might seem vulgar at a time when many audience members were struggling to pay their bills, but director Mervyn LeRoy and dance choreographer Busby Berkeley knew what they are doing. The words of the song prove to be ironic and hollow when the show is suddenly closed down by the creditors, and the dancers are thrown out of work. From this point on, the film follows the actions of three of the dancing girls. As in other musicals of the early 30s which focus on the dancers, the young ladies are rough diamonds – tough cookies with no airs and graces, who talk in a language that would only be possible in a pre-Code movie. "If Barnie could see me in clothes"…."He wouldn't recognise you". Plot is secondary in any musical to witty one-liners, and, of course, to the great song and dance numbers. The early musicals set the precedent that would be followed for many years of being musicals about making musicals. In a curious self-referential way, Gold Diggers of 1933 is a film about making Gold Diggers of 1933. At the centre of these arrangements was Busby Berkeley, and it is his contribution that makes the film most memorable. His dance arrangements were a curious blend of absurd and inspired, creepy and beautiful. The typical Berkeley dance involves girls with shapely legs and cheesy smiles dancing in such perfect unison that they look like the dance equivalent of the military marches so loved by totalitarian regimes. "Pettin' in the Park" is one of Berkeley's more cheeky numbers, something that is helped by the raunchy lyrics. "Pettin' in the park. Bad boy. Pettin' in the dark. Bad girl….Struggle just a little. Then hug a little". Berkeley includes one of his dazzling arial shots where the dancer hold giant snowballs in such perfect unity that they form shapes when viewed from above. ‘The Shadow Waltz' is the most arrestingly beautiful dance of the film. Spread across an elaborate series of staircases, the dancers perform in billowing dresses while pretending to play violins. Then the lights are switched off, and it emerges that the violins are neon-tubed, and glow in the dark. Being a Berkeley film, this naturally means that the violins must be seen in an overhead shot forming new patterns. At one point the dancers come together to create the shape of a giant violin. Finally a film that begins with "We're in the Money" atones for its ‘disgraceful' celebration of wealth by concluding with a song about the Depression. "Remember My Forgotten Man" was inspired by a Franklin D Roosevelt speech. The song and dance routine depicts the fate of the soldiers who fought in World War One only to come home wounded and weary, and find themselves reduced to visiting soup kitchens. Berkeley's darker imagery suggests the influence of German Impressionism. Thus the musical that begins with a cheerful display of affluence ends with a sombre portrait of poverty. Behind the escapism of the storyline, Mervyn LeRoy and Busby Berkeley showed themselves to have a sensitivity and compassion for a nation that was suffering. The song finishes off one of the best musicals of the early 1930s. I wrote a longer appreciation of Gold Diggers of 1933 on my blog page if you would like to read more: Rated 5 out of 5 stars 08/24/23 Full Review Richard S This is a nice film all in all, but the resolution was off putting. The three girls, Carol, Trixie, and Pauline, are well fleshed out throughout the movie, and the three gentlemen are as well. The problem is that at the end of the movie, it makes sense that the cynical Trixie would become a gold digger, and it makes sense that Pauline would marry her sweetheart, but for Carrol, the outcome is uncharacteristic of her and of her partner. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/27/23 Full Review steve d This one is a blast even today. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review george l Great movie. A screwball comedy and an American musical rolled into one. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member This is the most perfect example of "history on the silver screen" that I can think of. When Ginger Rogers says, "It's the Depression, dearie" at the beginning to explain the chorus girls' bad luck, it's the key to the whole film. While the "Shadow Waltz" number was being filmed during an actual 1933 earthquake in L.A. a number of the girls toppled off the Art Deco "overpass" where they were swaying with their filmy hoop skirts and their neon violins short-circuited. The electrical hook-ups were also rather dangerous, especially if the neon bows came in contact with the girls' metallic wigs in that number. The culminating production number, "Remember My Forgotten Man," is the most significant historically and illustrates Warner Bros.' "New Deal" sensibilities. Warner Bros. was the only studio that "bought" the whole Roosevelt approach to economic recovery. The year before, under Hoover, WWI vets were not only neglected in terms of benefits but were run out of their shanty town near the Capitol building. Starving guys were camping on the edges of most communities who'd served in the Great War fifteen years before. Of course, why or how this number fits into such a '30s girlie-type musical revue is anyone's guess. Berkeley never looked for reality, just eye-popping surrealistic effects. Ruby Keeler has a certain odd-ball appeal, like a homely puppy. She can't sing, she watches her leaden feet while she dances, and almost all her lines are read badly. Yes, she was married to Al Jolson, but that may have HURT her career more than anything. He was not exactly always likable. He was much older than Ruby and so full of himself. This film is also a classic example of the PRE-CODE stuff that was slipping by---the leering "midget baby" (Billy Barty), the naked girls in silhouette changing into their "armor," the non-stop flashing of underwear or lack of underwear, Ginger Rogers having her large coin torn off by the sheriff's office mug so she's essentially standing there in panties, and so forth. A good comparison of before and after the code would be to examine this picture and "Gold Diggers of 1935." The latter is so much more chaste, discreet, and less fascinating except for the numbers. There's not the lurid, horny aura of the Pre-Code pictures. And it's not quite as much naughty fun, either. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Gold Diggers of 1933

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Cast & Crew

The Inspector General 91% 79% The Inspector General 42nd Street 96% 74% 42nd Street Broadway Melody of 1936 90% 76% Broadway Melody of 1936 Going Hollywood 80% 55% Going Hollywood Roberta 86% 65% Roberta Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

Movie Info

Synopsis Things get tough for Carol (Joan Blondell) and her showgirl pals (Ruby Keeler, Aline MacMahon) when the Great Depression kicks in and all the Broadway shows close down. Wealthy songwriter Brad (Dick Powell) saves the day by funding a new Depression-themed musical for the girls to star in, but when his stuffy high-society brother finds out and threatens to disown Brad, Carol and her gold-digging friends scheme to keep the show going, hooking a couple of millionaires along the way.
Mervyn LeRoy
Robert Lord, Jack L. Warner
David Boehm, Erwin S. Gelsey, Avery Hopwood, Ben Markson, James Seymour
Warner Bros. Pictures
Production Co
Warner Bros.
Musical, Comedy
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
May 27, 1933, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 1, 2009
1h 36m
Sound Mix
Aspect Ratio
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