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Film / Gold Diggers of 1935

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Gold Diggers of 1935 is the first Gold Digger film made after The Hays Code crackdown. Two words sum up the aftermath: neutered and sweetly innocent, for the most part. Gone are the pre-Code spiciness, making the fluff slightly more obvious.

However, it’s the first film completely directed by Busby Berkeley.


The story is as follows:

Young Dick Curtis (Dick Powell) is a clerk at Wentworth Plaza, the hotel of the rich during summer, trying to get money to finish law school and marry his sweetheart, Alrine Davis (Dorothy Dare). The snooty millionaire Prentiss family arrive with Mrs. Prentiss (Alice Brady), the worrying penny-pincher, her serial spouse son, Humbolt (Frank McHugh), and her plainly dressed daughter, Ann (Gloria Stuart).

Trouble arises when Mrs. Prentiss asks Dick to escort Ann around the town before she marries insane Mr. T. Mosley Thorpe (Hugh Hubert), a snuff expert and millionaire who has no idea his secretary, Betty Hawes (Glenda Farrell) is swindling him.

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Unsurprisingly, both Ann and Dick fall in love and have a hard time trying to hide it from Mrs. Prentiss.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Prentiss puts on a musical show for charity purposes and must keep it under budget while trying to fight off scheming Russian choreographer, Nicolai Nicoleff (Adolph Menjou).

Wacky hijinks ensue and beautifully choreographed musical numbers take center stage.


Tropes associated with Gold Diggers of 1935:

  • Alliterative Name: Nicolai Nicoleff.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Two major ones: “The Lullaby of Broadway” and “The Words Are in My Heart.”
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. T. Mosley Thorpe is completely unaware of reality.
  • Funny Foreigner: Nicolai is the misunderstood, frantic artist, who tends not to make sense 100% of the time.
  • Gold Digger: Alrine decides to go after Humbolt because of his millionaire status.
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  • Mood Whiplash: The end of Lullaby of Broadway has our protagonist falling down a building.
  • Serial Spouse: Humbolt marries anyone that gives him the eye. He tells his mother, who was trying to get some mathematics into his head, that he’s “no good with fractions, but good at figures.
  • The Scrooge: Mrs. Prentiss. One very telling example is when she gives four bellhops one quarter to share between them.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Dick accompanies Ann to get herself a makeover and is impressed with the results.
  • Shout-Out: Betty sings “We’re in The Money” when she gets Thorpe to sign a phoney contract for their “engagement”.
  • Show Within a Show: In tune with Berkeley’s musical style, there’s a show to fundraise money for the milk fund.
  • Video Credits: At the beginning, as was the Warner Brothers style of the day.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: As with all Busby musical numbers, we all know this good not be accomplished on the stage. This stage is even tinier than the other Gold Digger films.

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