Gold Diggers of 1935

Gold Diggers of 1935 is an American musical film directed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley, and starring Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart and Alice Brady. Winifred Shaw, Hugh Herbert and Glenda Farrell are also featured. The songs were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics). The film is best known for its famous "Lullaby of Broadway" production number. That song (sung by Shaw) also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Gold Diggers of 1935
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBusby Berkeley
Produced byRobert Lord
Screenplay byManual Seff
Peter Milne
Story byRobert Lord
Peter Milne
StarringDick Powell
Adolphe Menjou
Gloria Stuart
Alice Brady
Music bySongs:
Harry Warren (music)
Al Dubin (lyrics)
CinematographyGeorge Barnes
Edited byGeorge Amy
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • March 16, 1935 (1935-03-16)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,365,000[2]

The movie was the fourth in the Gold Diggers series of films, after the now lost silent film The Gold Diggers (1923), the partially lost film Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), and Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933). The first three films, all financially successful, had all been based on the 1919 play The Gold Diggers; Gold Diggers of 1935 was the first one based on a wholly original story. It was followed by Gold Diggers of 1937 and Gold Diggers in Paris.


In the resort of Lake Waxapahachie, the swanky Wentworth Plaza is where the rich all congregate, and where the tips flow like wine. Handsome Dick Curtis (Dick Powell) is working his way through medical school as a desk clerk, and when rich, penny-pinching Mrs. Prentiss (Alice Brady) offers to pay him to escort her daughter Ann (Gloria Stuart) for the summer, Dick can't say no – even his fiancée, Arline Davis (Dorothy Dare) thinks he should do it. Mrs. Prentiss wants Ann to marry eccentric middle-aged millionaire T. Mosley Thorpe (Hugh Herbert), who's a world-renowned expert on snuffboxes, but Ann has other ideas. Meanwhile, her brother, Humbolt (Frank McHugh) has a weakness for a pretty face: he's been married and bought out of trouble by his mother several times.

Every summer, Mrs. Prentiss produces a charity show for the "Milk Fund", and this year she hires the flamboyant and conniving Russian dance director Nicolai Nicoleff (Adolphe Menjou) to direct the show. The parsimonious Mrs. Prentiss wants to spend the least amount possible, but Nicoleff and his set designer Schultz (Joseph Cawthorn) want to be as extravagant as they can, so they can rake off more money for themselves, and for the hotel manager (Grant Mitchell) and the hotel stenographer Betty Hawes (Glenda Farrell), who's blackmailing the hapless snuffbox fancier Thorpe.

Of course, Dick and Ann fall in love, Humbolt marries Arline, and the show ends up costing Mrs. Prentiss an arm and a leg, but in the end she realizes that having a doctor in the family will save money in the long run.



The songs in Gold Diggers of 1935 were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), and the two production numbers were staged by Busby Berkeley.

  • "I'm Going Shopping with You" – Sung by Dick Powell to Gloria Stuart, this is a montage of scenes of Stuart shopping for everything from lingerie to jewelry, much to the dismay of her penny-pinching mother, Alice Brady.
  • "The Words Are in My Heart" – This elaborate Busby Berkeley production number utilized 56 white grand pianos, which were moved around the sound stage by male dancers underneath the piano-shells, dressed in black.[3]
  • "Lullaby of Broadway" – One of the most famous Busby Berkeley numbers is actually a short film-within-a-film, which tells the story of a Broadway Baby who plays all night and sleeps all day. It opens with a head shot of singer Wini Shaw against a black background, then the camera pulls back and up, and Shaw's head becomes the Big Apple, New York City. As everyone rushes off to work, Shaw returns home from her night's carousing and goes to sleep. When she awakens, that night, we follow her and her beau (Dick Powell) from club to club, with elaborate large cast tap numbers, until she is accidentally pushed off a balcony to her death. The sequence ends with a return to Shaw's head, as she sings the end of the song. Of all the musical numbers Berkeley created in his career, he named this as his personal favorite.[4]


Gold Diggers of 1935 was in production at Warner Bros. Burbank studios until 14 January 1935, and was released on 15 March of that year. During production a chorus dancer, Jack Grieves, died on the set due to acute indigestion.[3][5]

The film was Busby Berkeley's first time at the helm of a film as the official director, although he had his own unit at Warners to do the elaborate production numbers he conceived, designed, staged and directed, which were the major elements of the Warners musicals of that period.

Critical Reviews

In 1935, Mae Tinee of the Chicago Daily Tribune stated, "As revues go, the present "Gold Diggers" has considerable to offer. There is some bright patter and a number of really amusing situations".[6] In The New York Times review that same year, Andre Sennwald writes, "The photoplay, in its preparations for the climactic Berkeley effects, is a brash and lively entertainment which allows Adolphe Menjou and Hugh Herbert to be reasonably amusing."[7]

Box Office

According to Warner Bros records the film earned $897,000 domestically and $468,000 foreign.[2]

Awards and honors

Harry Warren and Al Dubin received an Oscar for Best Original Song for "Lullaby of Broadway", and Busby Berkeley was nominated for the short-lived category Best Dance Direction.[8]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. Gold Diggers of 1935 at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 16 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  3. TCM Notes
  4. Hirschhorn, Clive (1991) [1981]. The Hollywood Musical (2nd ed.). New York: Portland House. p. 101. ISBN 0-517-06035-3.
  5. "Dancer Drops Dead". The Rochester Evening Journal. January 11, 1935. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  6. Tinee, Mae (March 27, 1935). ""Gold Diggers" Has Amusing Scenes, Patter". Chicago Daily Tribune.
  7. Sennwald, Andre (1935-03-15). "'Gold Diggers of 1935,' the New Warner Musical Film at the Strand -- 'Times Square Lady.'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  8. IMDB Awards
  9. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
  10. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-13.
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