For Busby Berkeley’s birthday: Remember My Forgotten Man and Sucker Punch

I wrote a piece originally for the Musings blog at Oscilloscope (it was included in a book!), and now lives on my site (since it’s off the Musings blog). It’s about the similarities between Busby Berkeley’s Gold Diggers of 1933 and Sucker Punch. The piece was percolating for years. I love the title the Oscilloscope editors gave to it: Remember My Forgotten Women: The Dire Worlds of Sucker Punch and Gold Diggers of 1933.

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15 Responses to For Busby Berkeley’s birthday: Remember My Forgotten Man and Sucker Punch

  1. JessicaR says:

    The moment where she shows the cop the guy’s medal has lost absolutely none of its power. Perhaps even more so in this age of homeless Iraq vets.

    • Jim Woods says:

      At the risk of hyperbole,it may be the most emotional musical number in history, and ever since I first saw this scene on Channel 9 late at night when I was still too young to drive a car, I have been in love with Joan Blondell. Those tears in her eyes, the passion, her standing up to the cop to protect the veteran, and of course, that incredible final moment: arms outstretched, surrounded by pleading women and desperate men…. as moving as anything ever filmed

  2. sheila says:

    I love that moment. The look on her face. Heartbreaking and subtle. She doesn’t overplay ANYthing. It’s REAL.

  3. JessicaR says:

    It’s what I love about the thirties Warner Brother’s musicals, every number is its own mini movie, and within that number there are whole entire storylines arcing out into the universe. Blondell is a delight as a sassy Broadway gypsy in the rest of the film, but here she effortless becomes this woman, burning with anger but too sad to let it show anymore.

  4. sheila says:

    And her gesture at the end, arms up in the air – it’s so free and abandoned. Gives me goosebumps every time, even though it’s a cliched gesture. She fills it. It’s fantastic.

  5. Charlie Voos says:

    Thank You for the essay, I am a Busby Berkley Freak. I consider my theme song to be “Shanghi Lil” with James Cagney and Ruby Keeler. Anyway regarding, ” remember my forgotten man”, I think it is interesting to research the Bonus Army of 1932. I really think this is where Busby got his inspiration. You can read it here: “The Bonus Army” EyeWitness to History, (2000). Also, I was interested in where you got that quote from Berkley, I would like to read more of his interpretations of his movies.

  6. sheila says:

    Charlie – which quote? The excerpt I posted? That’s from the Joan Blondell bio I mentioned (the link is in the post itself).

    Thanks for the thoughts on The Bonus Army – I will certainly follow that link. Thanks again.

  7. Susan Chase says:

    the forgotten man song what a great song this song holds true thru the years. for example vietnam rings ang bells people I would like to hear this song played today it still holds true. the same feelngs apply Iam so glad i found this site

  8. Joanne says:

    I recorded this movie so I can replay the end. It send chills through each time I play it. Thank goodness for TCM. I would have missed this wonderful song if I hadn’t seen this movie.

  9. Rinaldo says:

    Thanks for the post and the reminder. I agree with everything you say.

    Just as a side note on the question of Joan Blondell’s singing, I find it interesting to know that (though it was kept secret for a long time, as was customary then) she was dubbed for the bit near the end, which is more demanding than the early talk-sing refrain. In <a href=""this compendium of Hollywood dubbing through the decades, she comes up at 00:16. Of course I’m not suggesting that this takes away from her or the movie; I just like discovering these things.

  10. Richard says:

    Just a note about the Bonus Army, the vets didn’t vanish after Hoover had them evicted from their Washington camps. Many returned when Roosevelt took office in 1933 expecting better treatment. FDR opposed the Bonus Bill (he vetoed it in 1935 and again in 1936; the second time Congress overrode him) but he did find jobs for thousands. 700 were assigned to work camps in the Florida Keys earning $1 a day. On Labor Day 1935 a hurricane destroyed all 3 camps killing 260 vets. Those not claimed by their families were to be buried at Arlington. The 246 victims who were not claimed never made it to Arlington. They either had no families or their relatives had failed to act. To this day they rest in two unmarked mass graves in Florida. The VA refuses to provide grave markers because its regulations nonsensically allow only the next-of-kin to apply. Let’s remember these forgotten men. For more info check here,

  11. gina in alabama says:

    See this link also:,Keys%20limestone%20%28%E2%80%9Ckeystone%E2%80%9D%29%20by%20the%20Works%20Progress%20Administration.
    I visited the Hurricane Monument in Islamorada and it is chilling to stand there knowing so many are there also, unnamed and alone. They are still the Forgotten Men. But maybe us remembering them helps a little.

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