A review of the Depression-era musical “Gold Diggers Of 1933”

The gold diggers of the title are New York chorus girls struggling to eat and pay the rent during the Great Depression who are not above seducing older men with more money than sense. If this seems an unlikely theme for a romantic musical, it managed to raise the spirits of its contemporary audience and still works a treat 76 years later.

Based on a Broadway comedy that had already been filmed twice by Warner Brothers, the story was opened up by director Mervyn Leroy with music and lyrics from Harry Warren and Al Dubin and fabulous dance routines choreographed by the legendary Busby Berkeley.  The movie is astonishingly risque for the times with scanty costumes and songs such as “Pettin’ In The Park”.

What really distinguishes this particular musical from others of the time is the sombre ending: a dramatic appeal for social justice in the form of a number titled “Remember My Forgotten Man” which references the controversial 1932 Bonus March of jobless veterans. And there’s even a role for Ginger Rodgers before her famous pairing with Fred Astaire.


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