This past weekend I watched Gold Diggers of 1935, directed by Busby Berkeley. The plot is banal: a rich family arrives at a resort and a bunch of people are after their money. The daughter of the family (already an adult but not married so, you know, she can’t live on her own) is engaged to a complete idiot with a lot of money whose hobby is collecting and writing about snuff boxes. She doesn’t want to marry him; she wants to have fun. She convinces her mother that she should have one last summer of merriment before her wedding in the fall.
Her mother hires a desk clerk to be her escort for the summer and, surprise, she and the desk clerk fall in love after two days of hanging out and buying clothes and jewelry for her. This has definite Brittney Spears/Kevin Federline tones to it, except the desk clerk is at least in medical school and not making his living as a “dancer.”
What follows are some ins and outs, including a charity show staged with the rich matriarch’s money. And here’s where things get freaky.
We see two “acts.” The first is a number with a lot of white grand pianos played by smiling women in white gowns. The second is a mind-blowing number, a movie-within-a-movie, set to “Lullaby of Broadway.” This mini-movie is about 12 or 14 minutes long and tells it’s own story. It’s a film, meaning it’s not even being staged at the “charity show.” And, after it ends, there is no mention of its content or meaning back in the primary film. It’s just back to the boring movie. It leaves you thinking, “What the hell?” but also “I’d rather stay in that world and find out what happens next.”
I found the segment on YouTube (of course!) but it is broken into two pieces instead of appearing as one long continuous piece. So that kind of breaks the mood. Also, it’s better on even a TV screen.
This piece has totally infected my brain. I’ve been singing “Lullaby of Broadway” for four days without break. If I’m not singing or humming it, it’s running through my head in the background. And the “story” here is completely disturbing. YouÂ have to watch the action all the way through, closely. And then not to mention that this is a choreographed piece with a couple hundred dancers, all moving together… It’s completely hypnotic and, I think, enthralling. But the ending… I can’t comprehend what it’s trying to say.
Watch if you dare… Part One:
And Part Two: