The second talkie version of the Avery Hopwood's theatrical war-horse The Golddiggers of Broadway, Gold Diggers of 1933 was the second of three back-to-back 1933 Warner Bros. musicals benefiting from the genius of Busby Berkeley.
The basic plot is retained from the Hopwood play: Showgirls Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Aline McMahon attempt to find financial backing for the new show planned by producer Ned Sparks.
Songwriter Dick Powell, an incognito man of wealth, offers to put up the money, a fact that brings down the wrath of his older brother Warren William, who despises show folk. Attempting to buy off the three girls, William is placed in a compromising position by the crafty Blondell and is compelled to bankroll the musical himself.
The oddest aspect of Gold Diggers of 1933 is the fact that the mood of the songs is wildly at variance with the plot. The film begins with dozens of chorus girls (led by Ginger Rogers) happily chirping We're In the Money, a rehearsal number interrupted when the finance men burst in to claim the sets and props from the impoverished troupe.
At the end, when everyone is genuinely in the money, the troupe stages a downbeat Brother Can You Spare A Dime-style production number, Remember My Forgotten Man--and it is on this doleful indictment of the Depression that the film fades out!
Other Berkeley-staged musical highlights include Pettin' in the Park (yes, that salacious little baby really is Billy Barty) and the neon-dominated Shadow Waltz, all written by the prolific Harry Warren and Al Dubin. As spectacular as Gold Diggers of 1933 was, it would be topped by the last of Berkeley's 1933 trilogy, Footlight Parade.