GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 is an absolute must-see for the fourteen magical minutes of “Lullaby Of Broadway”, the film-within-a-film showstopper that concludes the otherwise thin fourth entry in the ‘Gold Digger’s series.
This 1935 wowzer was directed by Busby Berkeley at the height of his imaginative powers, although apart from that astounding finish, there’s only one other bit in the 95-minute fluff that really commands attention, as the plot is silly and the jokes archaic.
That other number, “The Words Are In My Heart”,utilizes 56 white grand pianos being swooped geometrically around the stage (you can see the guys dressed in black, running under them): it’s silly fun.
Lightweight roles are filled by Dick Powell, Adolph Menjou, Gloria Stuart (25, sixty years away from immortality via Titanic),Alice Brady, Hugh Herbert, Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Grant Mitchell and Wini Shaw.
“Lullaby” won the Oscar for Best Song, and Berkeley was nominated for Dance Direction (a category started in 1935, discontinued after 1937). Plop in a DVD and initiate friends into the fraternity who’ve witnessed the giddy spectacle of “Lullaby Of Broadway”–their jaws invariably drop open. More than 100 dancers glide, tap, hoof, stomp and spin around a multi-tiered art deco set, while the camera flips out in hyper-fluid abstract expression of movement as pure joy. It remained the great choreographic genie’s favorite of all his creations. The film is slight: this number is one of the Great Hollywood Marvels.