EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|DAMES (director: Ray Enright; screenwriters: Delmer Daves/from a story by Robert Lord and Delmer Daves; cinematographers: Sid Hickox/George Barnes/Sol Polito; editor: Harold McLernon; music: Harry Warren/Al Dubin; choreographer: Busby Berkeley; cast: Ruby Keeler (Barbara Hemingway), Dick Powell (Jimmy Higgens), Joan Blondell (Mabel Anderson), Zasu Pitts (Matilda Hemingway), Guy Kibbee (Horace P. Hemingway), Hugh Herbert (Ezra Ounce), Arthur Vinton (Bulger), Leila Bennett (Laura), Berton Churchill (Ellworthy), Sammy Fain (Song writer), Phil Regan (Song writer), Arthur Aylesworth (Conductor); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Wallis; Warner Bros.; 1934)|
black-and-white eye-catching numbers."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An inane story, some lame comedy and a silly
plot about a
public decency campaign out to close down a Broadway show have to be
endured before we get to the three Busby Berkeley numbers that make the
suffering through those trifles worth it. These are the hallucinatory number entitled “I Only Have Eyes for You,” where Dick Powell walks in the crowded downtown
street, rides on the subway and views the models in the glamor ads and
only sees Ruby Keeler. The other spectacular black-and-white
eye-catching numbers include
"Dames," a kaleidoscopic arrangement of chorines in black tights, and
Joan Blondell's innovative laundress
song "The Girl on the Ironing Board."
The silly plot has eccentric
multi-millionaire bachelor Ezra Ounce (Hugh Herbert), from
Buffalo, giving his NYC cousin Matilda
Hemingway (Zasu Pitts) and
her husband Horace (Guy Kibbee) ten million dollars if after a week's stay
with them the no-fun guy finds them morally correct (no smoking,
drinking or any thoughts about showbiz). Problem is their daughter
Barbara (Ruby Keeler) is in love with the black sheep of the family,
her distant cousin Jimmy Higgens (Dick Powell), a song and dance man,
who puts on a Broadway show with the help of aggressive showgirl Mabel
Anderson (Joan Blondell) and gets Barbara to star in it. Mabel
blackmails Horace to be the show's mysterious angel, as she sneaked
into Horace's sleeping compartment on the train and even though nothing
happened Horace is fearful of Ezra's reaction if she opens up her big
mouth. When Ezra forms the decency group called the Ounce Foundation for
the Elevation of American Morals,
he attends the show with the Hemingways. Ezra also hired goons to be in
the audience and he plans to use them to close down the show by rioting.
What saves the day for Horace,
is that Ezra gets drunk on his
special health elixir, which unknown to him added an alcohol mixture in
its new bottles.
Ray Enright ("China Clipper"/"The Spoilers"/"South of St, Louis") directs, Delmer Daves writes the screenplay, the story is based on the one written by Robert Lord and Delmer Daves, the songs are by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and, most importantly, it's choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Variety got it right when it dubbed Dames as "the 1934 edition of 'Gold Diggers.'"
REVIEWED ON 4/25/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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