It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Gold Diggers in Paris (1938) – Musical #708
Rudy Vallee, Rosemary Lane, Hugh Herbert, Allen Jenkins, Gloria Dickson, Melville Cooper, Mabel Todd, Fritz Feld, Edward Brophy
The Golddiggers: Rosella Towne, Carole Landis, Janet Shaw, Peggy Moran, Diana Lewis, Lois Lindsay, Poppy Wilde
Themselves: The Schnickelfritz Band
Terry Moore (Vallee) runs a nightclub with Duke Dennis (Jenkins) in New York City and is in debt. The nightclub owners and their dancers are confused with the Academy Ballet of America by Maurice Giraud (Herbert), who invites them to Paris for a ballet showcase and a high dollar contract. Terry and Duke jump at the chance, feeling it may solve their financial troubles. However, they find trouble in Paris when the real Academy Ballet of America run by Padrinsky (Bois) works to expose them as phonies.
• The sixth and last of the Gold Diggers films.
• Busby Berkeley created and directed the dance numbers.
• Ted Healy was originally set to be in the film, but died before filming started.
• Padrinsky (Curt Bois) dancing
• Rudy Vallee doing a Maurice Chevaliar impression
• The paintings turning into the women who modeled
• “Daydreaming (All Night Long)” performed by Rudy Vallee
• “I Want to Go Back to Bali” performed by Rudy Vallee
• “The Latin Quarter” performed by Rudy Vallee, Rosemary Lane, Allen Jenkins and Mabel Todd
• “A Strange in Paree” performed by Rudy Vallee and Rosemary Lane
In the early 1930s, director Busby Berkeley transformed the movie musical with creative camera angles and elaborate musical numbers. Berkley’s musicals reigned supreme at Warner Bros. (especially in 1933) with films like GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933), FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) and 42ND STREET (1933).
But by the late 1930s, some of this magic had worn off and Berkeley’s numbers were cut or water down. An example of this is in GOLD DIGGERS IN PARIS (1938). This film is the last of the “Gold Diggers” films that were first on screen starting in 1923. These include:
The Gold Diggers (1923)
• Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929)
• Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
• Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
• Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)
• Gold Diggers in Paris (1938)
While GOLD DIGERS IN PARIS (1938) doesn’t have the zest and impressive numbers that the other “Gold Diggers” or Berkely numbers, but it is still lots of fun and entertaining.
This movie realized that I am suddenly a Rudy Vallee fan and find him quite charming! Allen Jenkins is also very funny, per usually. And thankfully Hugh Herbert isn’t too kooky in this, like his other films. Truthfully, Fritz Feld and Curt Bois as ballet instructors are hilarious and steal the show, in my opinion.
The Schnickelfritz Band is a specialty act in the film, and I thought I would be annoyed by them (like the Yacht Club Boy or Ritz Brothers), but they were actually fun and entertaining.
If you keep your eyes peeled, you will see Carole Landis as one of the gold diggers getting on the boat for Paris and at the bar with Hugh Herbert.
As far as songs go, Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s music doesn’t pack the punch here like it does in other films. Usually Warren/Dubin songs get stuck in your head for no less than 72 hours (see: every song in FOOTLIGHT PARADE), but not one song kept me humming once the film ends. They were still fun though, and the opening song “I Wanna Go Back to Bali” is the best number in the film.
Overall, despite the watered down film, it is still lots of fun and joyful. A pleasant end to the series of Gold Digger films.
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