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Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Busby Berkeley

United States 1933 97 mins. In English

Busby Berkeley’s second of three “backstage musicals” for Warner Bros. in 1933 was the fabled Gold Diggers of 1933, which features some of the famed choreographer’s best-known dance creations, including “We’re in the Money,” “Pettin’ in the Park,” “The Shadow Waltz,” and “Remember My Forgotten Man,” all written by the team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Dealing more overtly with the Great Depression than other musicals of this period, the film follows a Broadway production shut down by financial woes. The “gold diggers” (Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, and Ginger Rogers) are four aspiring actresses cast in the play, whose hopes hinge on Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), a musician with secret riches who is forced into the production after a string of calamitous events. Gold Diggers of 1933 was a smash hit on its initial release, nearly equaling—and following hot on the footsteps of—42nd Street. “If 42nd Street was an agreeable sketch, this one is the Sistine Chapel, an insanely overproduced extravaganza that gave Busby Berkeley his first chance to really cut loose.”—Dave Kehr.