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Mervyn Le Roy
Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon
Writing Credits:
Erwin Gelsey, James Seymour

A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play but insists on anonymity.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 2/8/2022

• “FDR’s New Deal… Broadway Bound” Featurette
• 3 Animated Shorts
• 3 Live-Action Shorts
• Trailer


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Gold Diggers of 1933 [Blu-Ray] (1933)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 27, 2022)

For something from the early days of movie musicals, we go to Gold Diggers of 1933. In this one, we get a romantic comedy based around the world of show business.

Chorus girls Trixie (Aline MacMahon), Polly (Ruby Keeler) and Carol (Joan Blondell) feel delighted to get roles in the new production from producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks). Their neighbor Brad Roberts (Dick Powell) also wins the gig as composer.

However, bankrupt Barney ends up unable to fund the show, so dreams seem dashed. When it turns out that Brad boasts personal wealth, he seems like the show’s savior, but a mix of complications arise on the way to opening night.

Going into Diggers, I admit I came with low expectations. I figured we’d get a loose mix of comedy and melodrama cobbled around a surfeit of musical numbers.

To my modest surprise, Diggers proves more focused and substantial than I assumed. Actually, “substantial” seems like a stretch, as the film offers a slight confection.

However, it comes with a more coherent story and more compelling characters than I figured we’d get. Again, no one should confuse these comments to imply that Diggers provides anything more than a light piece of fluff, but it comes better constructed than anticipated.

This means reasonably dynamic characters and a narrative that goes somewhere more firm than the “framework for musical numbers” I expected. We get material that maintains a good momentum and keeps us fairly involved.

The actors all come with a good sense of comedic panache, and the movie avoids too much romantic melodrama. Indeed, Diggers feels considerably sassier than anticipated, as it provides enough cynicism to fend off the gooey elements one would expect.

Once more, I don’t want to present Diggers as some forgotten classic, and it probably runs a good 15 to 20 minutes too long. The thin story can’t quite use 98 minutes to great advantage.

Nonetheless, Diggers becomes a pretty enjoyable little romp. With lively characters and some good comedy, it does a lot to entertain.

Footnote: look for small but memorable performances from young Billy Barty and Sterling Holloway.

The Disc Grades: Picture A/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Gold Diggers of 1933 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt quite pleased with this excellent presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed strong. A little softness occasionally affected some shots, but those were minor instances, as the majority of the flick looked pretty accurate and tight.

Most of the “softness” connected to the original photography anyway, with some poor focus-pulling on occasion. I witnessed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes were absent.

With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect any heavy-handed digital noise reduction usage, and print flaws remained absent.

Blacks looked deep and taut, while shadows showed clear, smooth tones. This was a splendid image that looked great period - factor in the movie’s nearly-90-year-old age and the presentation became even more remarkable.

Though not as good, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 monaural soundtrack of Diggers worked well for its age. Speech could be a bit brittle, but the lines seemed reasonably natural, and they lacked any substantial edginess or other concerns.

Effects came across as decent. Those elements could seem rough in louder sequences, and they never boasted great dimensionality, but they were more than acceptable for their age.

Music showed fair clarity, and the track lacked much source noise. This was a more than competent track for a flick from 1933.

A featurette called FDR’s New Deal… Broadway Bound runs 15 minutes, 36 seconds and presents comments from film professor Rick Jewell, film historians Richard Barrios and John Kenwick, authors Larry Billman and Martin Rubin, filmmaker John Landis, John Waters and Randy Skinner, and choreographer Mary Ann Kellogg.

“Bound” looks at aspects of the Depression era as well as aspects of Diggers and its production. This becomes a fairly engaging little overview.

Under Warner Bros. Cartoons, we find three shorts from 1933: We’re In the Money (6:46), Pettin’ in the Park (7:00) and I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song (6:43). None of these animated reels seem especially entertaining.

However, I appreciate their historic value as a slice of circa 1933 cartoon entertainment. Also, all feature songs from Diggers, which adds a nice connection to the main feature.

Within Warner Bros. Shorts, we get three live-action entries: Rambling ‘Round Radio Row (9:11), 42nd Street Special (5:45) and Seasoned Greetings (19:47).

Of the three, Special offers the most value since it brings a period newsreel. The other two attempt musical entertainment and don’t really succeed, though again, I feel happy to see them for archival reasons.

Note that Greetings reprises a bunch of Diggers songs, by the way. That short also features an exceedingly young Sammy Davis Jr. in a small part.

The disc finishes with the movie’s trailer.

As a movie musical from the formative days of the format, Gold Diggers of 1933 fares better than expected. It creates a fairly coherent tale that offers enough spark and panache to make it work. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as relatively good audio and a mix of bonus materials. Chalk up Diggers as a pleasant cinematic surprise.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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