…We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along

It was based on a 1919 play, which was adapted as a (lost) 1923 silent film before becoming re-adapted into the “top-grossing film of all time,” a claim that lasted for a full decade after its release in 1929.

Yes it had showgirls, and it had sound, introducing the world to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and “Painting the Clouds With Sunshine” but perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Gold Diggers of Broadway was that it was filmed in Technicolor (in 1929!) capturing the very essence of the flapper era.

Regrettably, only the last 20 minutes of the film survive, providing the distant modern viewer with a tantalizing glimpse of life in living color, before the Crash. And so we turn to a loose remake, Gold Diggers of 1933, filmed in (more economical) black and white and released in the murky depths of the Great Depression.

What a comedown one might say.  Perhaps, but as the Hay’s “censorship” Code wasn’t enforced until the following year (just after the repeal of Prohibition as a matter of fact), the movie is an absolute wonder thanks to the outlandish, sexually-charged choreography of Busby Berkeley in his pre-code prime.

A dance director for dozens of Broadway musicals in the 1920s, Busby Berkeley William Enos grew up in (surprise, surprise) an entertainers’ household and served as a field artillery lieutenant during the First World War.  Watching soldiers in their intricate military drill is said to have served as a great inspiration for his elaborate routines. His numbers were the best-regimented displays on Broadway and later in Hollywood. And ever more elaborate they became.

By all accounts Berkeley wasn’t overly concerned with his chorus girls’ dancing skills, as long as they could form themselves into remarkable geometric patterns or participate in one of his popular parades of faces. Occasionally criticized for the recurrent display of the “female form as seen through the male gaze” or depictions of “New Deal collectivism” (as opposed to rugged individualism), Berkeley simply shrugged, stating that his foremost objective was to always top himself without repeating past (kaleidoscopic) accomplishments.  One need only look at the astounding “Lullaby of Broadway” number from Gold Diggers of 1935 for “objective” proof.

By decade’s end outsized musicals had become passé and Berkeley resorted to non-musical directing, although he did continue to dabble.  Carmen Miranda’s “Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat” is a latter-day Busby Berkeley number, as are those late ‘40s Esther Williams’ swimming finales, all filmed (for a now-accustomed audience) in glorious, living Technicolor.

Of course Gold Diggers of 1933 had one other awe-inspiring asset (okay, Ruby Keeler aside) and that’s the scintillating sight of a young Ginger Rogers (sometimes in EXTREME close-up) singing today’s selection in the midst of a Busby Berkeley routine, albeit a minor one.

Although Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s catchy song, “We’re in the Money” soon became a much-recorded standard, I defy you to find another version that features an entire verse sung in flawless Pig Latin. In addition to the song selection I’ve included a YouTube URL as this is a number that should also be seen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJOjTNuuEVw

 LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Saturday 31 March

We’re in the Money

Gone are my blues,

And gone are my tears;

I’ve got good news

To shout in your ears.

The long lost dollar has come back to the fold,

With silver you can turn your dreams to gold!

Oh!

 We’re in the money, we’re in the money,

We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!

We’re in the money, the sky is sunny,

Old man Depression, you are through, you done us wrong!

Oh!

We never see a headline ’bout a bread line today;

And when we see the landlord,

We can look that guy right in the eye.

We’re in the money, come on, my honey,

Let’s lend it, spend it, send it rolling around!

 Oh, boy, we’re in the money, I’ll say we’re in the money,

We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!

Let’s go, we’re in the money, look up, the sky is sunny,

Old man Depression, you are through, you done us wrong!

We never see a headline ’bout a bread line today,

And when we see the landlord,

We can look that guy right in the eye!

We’re in the money, come on, my honey,

Let’s spend it, lend it, send it rolling along!

 Ereway inhay the oneymay, ereway inhay the oneymay!

Eveway otgay ayay otlay ofway atwhay itay akestay otay etgay aylayongwayo!

Ereway inhay the oneymay, ethay iesksays are unnysay!

Oldmay anday eedayessionpray, ouyay aray oothray ootay unday usay ongwrayo!

Eway evernay eesay eadlayinelay ayofay eadbrayinelay otayayday.

Anday enwhay eway eesay ethay andlayord

We’ll ooklay atthay uygay ightray inay ethay eyeyay!

We’re in the money, come on, my honey,

Let’s lend it, spend it, send it rolling around!



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