“I’m free, white, and 21. I love to dance, and I’m going to dance!”
A priggish multi-millionaire (Hugh Herbert) promises $10 million to his relative (Guy Kibbee) if Kibbee and his wife (Zasu Pitts) prove that they live morally upright lives; but the couple’s chance at wealth is compromised by both their performance-loving daughter (Ruby Keeler) — who is secretly dating a songwriter (Dick Powell) — and a blackmailing gold-digger (Joan Blondell) who takes advantage of innocent Kibbee.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Busby Berkeley Films
- Dick Powell Films
- Joan Blondell Films
- Morality Police
- Ruby Keeler Films
- Zasu Pitts Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately writes that “Busby Berkeley production numbers give needed flash to [this] lackluster comedy and make it a suitable second feature to the Gold Diggers films, Footlight Parade, or 42nd Street.” Indeed, it’s the three finale numbers — most notably the surreally choreographed “I Only Have Eyes For You”, in which Ruby Keeler’s image is replicated ad infinitum — that will stick in one’s memory after the film is over; you’ll likely quickly forget most of the ho-hum plot, featuring an unconvincing (miscast?) Hugh Herbert as an “eccentric millionaire”, and Joan Blondell (“seven months pregnant at the time”) as a surprisingly unlikable blackmailer whose manipulative treatment of “befuddled” Kibbee doesn’t seem fair or justified.
Peary — clearly not an enormous Ruby Keeler fan — writes that she “does about 20 clunky tap steps to win a part in the show and does little else memorable except wear shorts” (!); and he further notes that Powell, while “obnoxiously brash”, “does a good job crooning”. Ultimately, this one is only must-see viewing for Berkeley completists — but the culminating numbers (including the “extravaganza [title] finale… featuring lots of beautiful chorus girls swooping into dramatic close-ups and… forming bizarre geometric patterns”) are most definitely worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Berkeley’s marvelous finale songs: “The Girl At the Ironing Board”, “I Only Have Eyes for You”, and “Dames”
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing.