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Film: Gold Diggers of 1933

Gold Diggers of 1933 is a 1933 pre-Code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

The "gold diggers" are four aspiring actresses: Polly, Carol, Trixie, and Fay. The movie follows the efforts of the actresses to survive in the Depression-era city. Their misadventures make up the bulk of the film, and the rest of the film is filled with musical numbers lavishly choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

The movie is nominally a sequel to a film (now lost) called The Gold Diggers of Broadway, which was based off of a Broadway play from 1919 called The Gold Diggers. (Gold Diggers of 1933 is actually more like a Spiritual Successor to 42nd Street.) Three movie sequels (Gold Diggers Of 1935, Gold Diggers of 1937, and Gold Diggers In Paris) were also produced, featuring some of the same actors playing different characters.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Bowdlerization: The studio created alternate versions of the film that could be distributed in more conservative parts of the country. These alternate versions toned down the scantiness of the dancers' clothing, and one version even had an alternate ending.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Four, in fact, from the man himself.
  • Creator Cameo: The voice shouting "Everybody onstage for the Forgotten Man number!" belongs to none other than Busby Berkeley himself.
  • Dawson Casting: In an extreme example that borders on Three-Month-Old Newborn, little person Billy Barty was actually 9 when he played the baby in the "Pettin' in the Park" scene. Possibly Rule of Funny when you consider all that his character did during that number.
  • Executive Meddling: Studio head Jack Warner was so impressed by "My Forgotten Man" that he had it moved to the end of the film. "Petting in the Park", which was originally supposed to end the film, was moved to the middle.
  • Fanservice: "We're In The Money" (just take one look at that pic above!) and "Pettin' In The Park" in particular are filled with it!
    • As the cops crack down on the show in the beginning, one of the "We're In The Money" girls has the big "coin" on her front snatched away—resulting in a clearly pre-Code shot of her belly button!
  • Film Noir: The first half of "My Forgotten Man" is filled with foreshadowing of Noir (a full seven years before it "truly" emerged)—with various elements of the style put on full display.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Filled to the brim. Just some examples.
      • "I look much better in clothes than any of you."
      • "If Barney could see me in clothes..."
      • "He wouldn't recognize you."
    • This exchange between Trixie and "Fuffy"
      • "Can you imagine me getting sentimental? The most hardboiled way in the dirty white way!
      • "You're not hardboiled. That's just on the surface. Underneath you're..."
      • "Say, what do you know about me underneath?"
  • Gold Digger: A movie-long subversion, in fact.
    • Although Trixie hints early on that she's more than happy to target Peabody for his money. Fay approaches Peabody from this angle as well.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The opening number, in which Ginger Rogers goes to town with some catchy Pig Latin in one verse.
  • May-December Romance: Between Fanuel ("Fanny") Peabody and Trixie Lorraine.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene where the lovers happily end up together is immediately followed by the "My Forgotten Man" number, which is a dark, gritty song about World War I veterans and Depression-era poverty.
    • Also the opening number. "We're in the Money", the most famous song from the film and one of THE most famous songs from The Thirties, is actually interrupted and never finished when creditors come by to seize the costumes and sets. (Not so "in the money" now, are we?)
  • Pretty in Mink
  • Reality Subtext: The Great Depression as in full bore in 1933.
  • Sexy Silhouette: Used towards the end of the "Pettin' in the Park" number, when the female performers change their clothes (in silhouette) after getting drenched in a downpour.
  • Stealth Pun: Ginger Rogers sings "We're In the Money" while she and her fellow performers are wearing clothing that looks like money.
  • Throw It In: Ginger Rogers was goofing off during rehersals of "We're in the Money" and began singing it in Pig Latin. Studio executive Daryl F. Zanuck caught her at it, and suggested she do it for real in the film. And the rest, as they say, is istoryhay.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: We're meant to believe that these huge, elaborate sets are all a part of a single Broadway stage show, as are the elaborate Busby Berkeley dance routines (some of which would only make sense if viewed from directly above). But once you get past all that, Rule of Cool applies.

The Facts in the Case of Mister HollowThe Great DepressionThe Green Mile
Show PeopleNational Film RegistryTarzan
GodspellThe MusicalBeach Boys
Gabriel Over the White HouseFilms of the 1930sFootlight Parade

alternative title(s): Gold Diggers Of 1933
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