Perhaps the most perverse of musical sequences is the haunting and dark “Lullaby of Broadway” from Gold Diggers of 1935. We’ve left the innocent world of skin-flashing American girls and redheaded lion tamers. We’ve entered a realm that is much more sinister.
When we think of Busby Berkley, we usually think of glamorous overhead shots of female dancers swirling around in beautiful geometric shapes. But “Lullaby” begins with a disembodied female head, floating towards us from the depths of black nothingness.
Then her face turns upside down and dissolves into Manhattan and the lullaby nightmare of Broadway can begin.
the mass of faceless dancers becomes a brutal army of hoofers, marching in lockstep, driving the heroine to an accidental plummet from the top of a skyscraper.
It’s the all singing, all dancing, all totally crazy world of the Hollywood musical.