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Film / Gold Diggers of 1937

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Another year, another gold digger.
Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936) is a Lloyd Bacon film with musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley.
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Two showgirls, Genevieve (Glenda Farrell) and Norma (Joan Blondell) are out of work and penniless. Genevieve gold digs the business partners, Morty and Tom, of stage-musical producer, J.J. Hobart (Victor Moore), a nervous man in bad health. Norma, on the other hand, becomes the secretary for lazy, if eager, insurance salesman, Rosmer Peak (Dick Powell). Unbeknownst to Hobart, his business partners have ruined his finances and need money quick. Genevieve comes up with the idea to insure Hobart for a million-dollar policy and to cross their fingers that he kicks the bucket soon. She then phones up Norma who gets Rosmer to give Hobart the policy plan. Neither Norma or Rosmer know about the scheme, so they both try to keep Hobart in good health to have the policy pay for their upcoming marriage.

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As per usual, wacky hijinks ensue and a couple of intricate dance numbers, too.


Tropes:

  • Busby Berkeley Number: The film ends with the “All’s Fair in Love and War” number with marching women in military formations who attack an all men squadron using chemical warfare. The chemical? Perfume. The men, in turn, surrender.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Rosmer tells his insurance buddy to keep a watch on Hobart, but the friend gets distracted by all the scantily-clad women at the pool party.
  • Easily Forgiven: Hobart finds out that Genevieve was only dating him to make his health worse, but he falls in love with her and tells her that he knew and doesn't care.
  • Excuse Plot: Like with the other Digger films, the wafer thin plot is just a setup for the fantastic and elaborate musical numbers and gorgeous dancers that make up the bulk of the film. The back of the films DVD case even hangs a lampshade on this, trying earnestly to summarize the plot at first, only to give up halfway through and say "Well, who watches any Diggers for its plot?"
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  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: Let’s put on a show to help Hobart feel better!
  • Hidden Depths: Hobart admits to Genevieve that he’s a silly man with a silly temperament, but his love for her has made him realize The Power of Love.
  • In Love with the Mark: Genevieve was sent by Morty and Tom to tire Hobart out and make him weaker in health, but she ends up falling for him.
  • Insurance Fraud: Hobart’s partners take out insurance on him, and hope that he dies soon, so they can use the insurance payout to cover huge debts they’ve incurred. It doesn't go as planned, however.
  • May–December Romance: Between Hobart and Genevieve, much to Genevieve's surprise.
  • No Longer with Us: Rosmer calls up the hospital where Hobart is staying to have the nurse say that he has “gone” prompting Rosmer to think he’s dead. Of course, he’s gone as in he’s gone out of the hospital to visit them.
  • She's Got Legs: All the women in the “All’s Fair In Love and War” number have very short skirts for a film made after The Hays Code crackdown.
  • Show Within a Show: A staple in any Busby Berkeley musical.

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