Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)

In this Busby Berkeley choreographed-directed film (in his debut as a solo director) with two major production numbers (sequences somewhat detached from the surrounding plot) exemplifying his masterful trademark camerawork:

  • the scene of a moonlight ride in a motorboat, while the tune "The Words Are in My Heart" was sung by medical student/desk clerk Dick Curtis (Dick Powell) to heiress Ann Prentiss (Gloria Stuart), featuring 56 mostly-blonde, white evening-gowned chorines pretending or 'play' waltzing/dancing with white baby-grand pianos that formed geometric, kaleidoscopic arrangements and ultimately came together to form one giant piano top (the lightweight piano shells were moved around by black-clad men manuevering the pianos on their backs while following tape markings on the shiny black floor)
  • the climactic approx. 14 minute finale "The Lullaby of Broadway" - a self-contained film within a film - pictured as a day in the life of the Great White Way of New York, with its opening shot (in a dark frame as the camera approached) of the lit, disembodied and upturned white head or face of Wini Shaw (Herself), as she was singing 'The Lullaby of Broadway' in solo; the image was followed by her head twisting around, inverting and reclining - and the shape of her silhouetted face dissolving into an aerial shot or mapping of the island of Manhattan
"The Lullaby of Broadway" - 1
  • Wini - a "Broadway babe" would be returned home to her walk-up tenement apartment with her date, exhausted from a night of partying; she would sleep all during the day as her proletarian neighbors were leaving for work, and then would go out again in the early evening for more dazzling nightlife throughout the next night
  • the show-stopping, entertaining, inventive production number continued in an art-deco nightclub (Club Casino) where Wini, the following night, was the only patron watching the club's all-night show (a single dancing couple on gargantuan stepping stairs-platforms), accompanied by a wealthy date (Dick Powell); the dance couple was joined by rows and rows of hundreds of tap-dancing couples, highlighted by the acrobatic dancing of a trio (led by Manny King) filmed in part through the glass floor - performed to the pounding rhythms, and visualizing a sexually-charged battle of the sexes (with obvious sexual imagery) in the hedonistic, nocturnal city during the Depression years; Wini and her date joined in the dancing
"The Lullaby of Broadway" - 2
  • during the dance portion, the number turned into a mordant, judgmental and cautionary tale of life in the city for party-girl Wini after another night of carousing on Broadway; from the stage, Wini ran into her balcony doors (breaking the 4th wall of reality), as throngs of entertainers from the stage floor crowded behind her to rush in after her; as the group of dancers surged toward her, the camera angle reversed and she appeared to be on her skyscraper balcony, where she was accidentally pushed backwards; the camera twirled around as she descended to the street; but was it only a dream (?) when she again appeared restored as a disembodied head to finish singing the number's title song
"The Lullaby of Broadway" - 3 - Wini's Plunge From Balcony

"The Words Are In My Heart"

Wini Returning Home to Walk-Up Apartment in Early AM

Wini with Date (Dick Powell) Back the Next Night

Acrobatic Dancing of Manny King Viewed From Below the Floor

The Final Chorus


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