Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Dames (1934)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Dames (1934)

In Ray Enright's extravagant musical romance:

  • in the story, aspiring actor and musical producer Jimmy Higgens (Dick Powell) was trying to promote his new Broadway show titled Sweet and Hot, starring Barbara Hemingway (Ruby Keeler), his distant 13th cousin; her mother was fragile, odd-ball mother Matilda Ounce Hemingway (Zasu Pitts), the cousin of eccentric multimillionaire Ezra Ounce (Hugh Herbert) who was in the midst of a campaign against indecent and "filthy" Broadway shows, including "black sheep of the family" Jimmy's proposed show
  • Barbara and her mother Matilda were to inherit $10 million from Matilda's cousin Ezra if they maintained strict and clean morality, according to Ounce's Foundation for the Elevation of American Morals
  • Ounce's portly partner Horace P. Hemingway (Guy Kibbee) was Barbara's father (Matilda's husband) and also the "sugar daddy" of Jimmy's sex-pot friend and show-girl co-worker Mabel Anderson (Joan Blondell); Mabel was able to blackmail Horace (for an alleged indiscretion on a train) and finance Jimmy's show
  • the astonishing Busby Berkeley production numbers, including the clever "I Only Have Eyes For You," in which Barbara and her producer Jimmy fell asleep aboard a subway train as he dreamt of repeated, subdividing images of her face (chorus girls holding large Keeler-face masks); he also saw images of dozens of white-gowned chorus girls standing on a rotating white ferris wheel and on multiple sets of stairs; the set ended with the chorus girls (with puzzle pieces strapped on their backs) coming together and reuniting to form a huge jigsaw puzzle of Barbara's face
"I Only Have Eyes For You"
  • the title number "Dames" began with producer Jimmy singing to a group of : "Who writes the words and music to all the girly shows? No one cares, and no one knows....What do you go for, go see a show for? Tell the truth, you go see those beautiful dames. You spend your dough for, bouquets that grow for all those cute and cunning, young and beautiful dames"; this transitioned to the morning routine of showgirl beauties, with close-ups of the faces of various 'dames' preparing for and responding to an 11 o'clock casting call; it led to the camera voyeuristically following the chorus girls through a single day (including their sleeping, waking, stretching, bathing, powdering, primping, applying makeup in front of mirrors, etc.); the aspiring dames entered the stage door, and then segued into scores of chorus girls in black tights tap-dancing in geometric patterns; a trick reverse-action camera made it appear that the tap-dancing chorines who flung open their legs (with the camera whirring through) were also seen flying straight up from the floor straight into the camera; the musical number ended with an overhead kaleidoscope star-formation, and the camera zooming through a surreal view of a tunnel (a spinning square with a black hole in the middle, with the girls on the four sides)
Musical Number: "Dames"

Jimmy Higgens
(Dick Powell)

End of "Dames" musical number - Jimmy's Face Crashing Through the Backdrop of Dancing Dames


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