One of the best Warner Bros. pre-Production Code musicals, Gold Diggers of 1933 adroitly intertwined a light-hearted yet gritty look at backstage shenanigans involving unemployed showgirls and potential moneymen with choreographer Busby Berkeley's outrageously lavish production numbers, replete with fluid camerawork and overhead compositions. Using the Great Depression rather than ignoring it, Mervyn LeRoy's crisply directed story hinged on survival in hard times, as romance blooms when the pragmatic chorines use their "assets" to charm backers for a new show. Berkeley's "We're in the Money," featuring coin-clad chorus girls and Ginger Rogers singing in pig Latin, and the cheekily smutty "Pettin' in the Park" indicate the movie's dual focus on fiscal troubles and carnality. The downbeat finale, "Remember My Forgotten Man," keeps the film rooted in 1930s reality, despite the escapism offered by Berkeley's visually innovative set pieces and the sweet Ruby Keeler-Dick Powell love story. Although Gold Diggers inspired other "realistic" backstage musicals, the 1934 Production Code discouraged later movies from adopting its frank approach; "Pettin' in the Park" was cut from early TV prints of the film because it was deemed too racy.
by Lucia Bozzola review