Curtains Up for Entertainment in “Gold Diggers of 1933”

Now available via the Warner Brothers Archive Collection, Gold Diggers of 1933 is a rousing example of the razzle dazzle of Hollywood’s golden age. This pre-Code musical classic concerns a cash-strapped Broadway revue that gets a timely rescue from a young backer (Dick Powell) who’s awash in talent as well as funds…but the cast (Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Aline McMahon, and Ginger Rogers) have their questions about his motives.

Busby Berkeley pulled out all the stops for classic numbers like “We’re in the Money” (dancers wearing giant coins), “Shadow Waltz” (hoop-skirted musicians with neon violins), and the racy-for-the-era “Pettin’ in the Park.” Ned Sparks, Warren William, Guy Kibbee co-star.

Gold Diggers of 1933 is a visual symphony of sight and sound, and the picture starts with an opening number like no other, “We’re in the Money.” Take a look:

Some context: This film was released amidst the Great Depression, so audience members who were fortunate enough to scrape together a few coins for a day out at the movies expected escapist entertainment at its best. Gold Diggers of 1933 delivers this easily. There is so much extravagance crammed into the 98 minutes of this feature that it is almost overload. Beautiful people, unforgettable sets, stunning choreography that still seems like it came from another/better universe, timeless shows, eye-popping costumes, this picture had it all.

And you know what? It still does.

  • Tom Johnson

    Good Lord, Ginger Rogers singing “We’re in the Money” in Pig Latin – what a hoot! Does anyone remember the scene in Bonnie and Clyde where Faye Dunaway sees the movie, and later on is singing back int heir room, with a necklace made of coins.