Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dig We Must

Even though everyone says Gold Diggers in Paris (1938) is the worst of the Gold Diggers series, what the heck - we watched it anyway.

In New York, Rudy Vallee's swank nightclub, Club Balle, is packing them in with fancy production numbers. Unfortunately, they are losing money every night and ready to go bankrupt. In Paris, the International Dance Exposition committee chooses Hugh Herbert to go to America to find the New York Ballet and offer them a free trip to France. Of course, he makes the offer to Vallee's crew.

I'll skip over all the comic twists and turns (because they aren't that great really). I'll just mention three things: Bad, Indifferent, Good:
  • Rudy Vallee is not a great leading man. I don't know why - he's a great second banana. But we really miss America's Most Promising Juvenile, Dick Powell.
  • Busby Berkeley choreographs at least the last big production number, and it is not his best. The rest of the numbers are only fair. Some cute chorus girls, a puzzling Bali number, surprisingly little ballet.
  • The Schnickelfritz Band gets several numbers, including the great Listen to the Mockingbird and the Tiger Rag. These guys are precursors to Spike Jones - goofy music played on silly instruments, including washboards and those horns that honk when you squeeze the rubber bulbs. If you like this sort of thing, they are the only real reason to watch this movie.
I know this isn't much of a recommendation, but if you like these old Depression musicals, you are probably willing to take the good with the bad (with the "meh"). I'm not saying that this is for completists only, but ... well, maybe that is what I'm saying.

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