The Busby Berkeley Collection (Footlight Parade / Gold Diggers of 1933 / Dames / Gold Diggers of 1935 / 42nd Street)
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The Busby Berkeley Collection is a 6-disc compilation of five remastered Warner Bros. classics from one of the greatest motion picture choreographers of all time.]]>
While Berkeley choreographed and directed the musical sequences in these films, the plot sections were generally directed by others such as Lloyd Bacon. Keeler and Powell were the most frequent headliners, supported by character players such as Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, and Ned Sparks, and most of the songs were contributed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. The stories aren't much, usually revolving around the putting-together of a musical show as well as the lives and loves of chorus girls. The term "gold diggers," which is the source of the title of two of the films included in this set, refers unflatteringly to chorus girls in search of wealthy husbands.
Gold Diggers of 1933 opens with a justly famous shot of Ginger Rogers wearing an outfit of coins and singing "We're in the Money" first in English then in pig Latin. Gold Diggers of 1935 is capped by "The Lullaby of Broadway," a 14-minute story-within-a-story that seems one of the inspirations for Singin' in the Rain's "Broadway Melody." Dames (1934) has the aforementioned title tune as well as "I Only Have Eyes for You" (with Powell singing to dozens of Keeler faces). Footlight Parade changes things up a bit by starring James Cagney as a producer desperately cranking out musical numbers. Keeler and Powell emerge from their bit-character roles to headline two of the big productions stacked together at the end, while Cagney replaces Powell in the third, showing off the vaudeville hoofing skills he would use later in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy.
DVD supplements are generous. The sixth disc is the 163-minute Busby Berkely Disc, a former laserdisc program that collects just the musical numbers from nine films without the plot filler. Most of the numbers are already included in the films in this collection, but there are also one number each from Fashions of 1934, Wonder Bar, In Caliente, and Gold Diggers of 1937. Also on the discs are new and old featurettes (one tracks the development of 42nd Street from book to screen to stage), and vintage cartoons and shorts (one promotional short has Berkeley on-screen talking up Dames). Picture quality is about the same as on the Astaire and Rogers Collection, Vol. 1: good for the age of the material, but with noticeable fuzz and print damage. --David Horiuchi
Top Customer Reviews
For fans of musicals and for those who simply enjoy excellent cinema, these movies have it all! First and foremost, the artistry of Berkeley's musical sequences make these films a must-see! It doesn't matter if you are a musical maven or not. The inimitable Busby Berkeley production numbers will dazzle you, even with the sound turned down! In addition to being renowned musicals, these films are also some of the wittiest comedies from the 30's era. I don't think anybody can resist the well-written snappy dialogue and sly innuendo, particularly from the pre-code releases included here.
FOOTLIGHT PARADE -- Great pre-code dialogue, and a fantastic showcase for the comedic talents of both Joan Blondell and James Cagney, the latter demonstrating his incredible footwork that helped him score his Oscar winning role in Yankee Doodle Dandy!
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 -- My personal favorite of this collection. it features the famous Ginger Rogers number "We're In The Money", and the unforgettable "Forgotten Man" performed by Joan Blondell! Great production numbers and more entertaining pre-code comedy.
DAMES -- In addition to the great production number of the title song, it features an hilarious performance by Hugh Herbert, probably (though debatably) his best!
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 -- This one introduces the great production number, "The Lullaby Of Broadway" and also features a great comedic performance from Gloria Stuart (of "Titanic" fame).Read more ›
By Brendan G Carroll
While I was delighted that Warners & Turner have issued these great films on DVD at last in terrific quality (for the most part) and with wonderful extras, there were some opportunities missed here and one glaring omission which I hope I can set right.
The opportunities lost concern the archive material that might have been included and which would have been so worth the effort to acquire. As most Berkeley buffs know, he gave a very interesting and rare interview for a 1966 TV documentary called "The Movie Crazy Years" (about Warners) which also included a nice interview with Joan Blondell. It would have been good to see the relevant excerpts from this superb programme (which I think was made by David Wolper) included in the various featurettes on these DVDs, rather than the endless gushy on-camera posturings of the likes of John Landis. Do I really need to be told over and over in hyper-gushy language, that Buzz was a genius, by so-called celebrity fans? I really wish Turner would at least include either contemporary witnesses or film historians (like Bob Thomas or Rudy Behlmer) to add pertinent commentary to projects like this. WHAT has John Waters got to do with Busby Berkeley I ask you?
The second "missed opportunity" is the rarely (and barely) seen 96 minute documentary "Busby Berkeley" made by Russ Jones in 1974 to co-incide with the publication of Tony Thomas' superb biography of Buzz, which included rare interviews with Winifred Shaw (about the Lullaby of Broadway number) and Ruth Donnelly (about Footlight Parade) among other treasures.
Surely Turner could have acquired both of these archive resources (at little cost!) for this definitive DVD set?Read more ›
I first saw FOOTLIGHT PARADE when I was in college in the late 60s; saw it on a big screen in a real movie palace in Minneapolis. It was a revelatory moment and I have been a committed "Berkeleyite" ever since.
There is no one during the 30s or after who did such audacious and astounding things with movie musicals.
I look forward to having the DVD set which I know will be a vast improvement over the VHS copies I have mouldering in our attic. Anyone who has a yen for musicals will want to own this set. Not only did Berkeley have the full support (for a while) of Jack Warner in the making of these extravagant films he also had the pick of the Warner stock company of actors. Think of it:Cagney, Blondell, Kibbee, Powell, and lastly but foremeost the Beautiful Ruby Keeler (for who I still harbor a schoolboy crush!). I can only hope that the bonus disc will have numbers from the(lesser)films not included in the set; numbers such as DREAM A LITTLE DREAM from FASHIONS and the numbers from WONDER BAR (even the jaw-dropping GOIN' TO HEAVEN ON A MULE number).
Now if someone (Warners or whoever owns the rights) will release Eddie Cantor's films for Goldwyn - which contain some prime Berkeley work - and also issue a set of Jolson films (which would have to include GO INTO YOUR DANCE - no Berkeley work but great music and (hubba-hubba)Ruby Keeler - everything would truly be right with the world!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fantastic collection of films highlighting the career of Busby Berkeley. I am pleased to have it in my collection. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Groversmom
The greatest choreographer of all time....a life cut short, but in that time he broke the mold of how pictures should be make... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Judy L. Maynard
A wonderful compilation of Busby Berkeley's early work for Warner, this is a must-add to anyone's collection who loves musicals, dancing, and early talkies. Read morePublished 13 months ago by David L. Gill
Awesome - this arrived in time for Christmas and with the utter bilge spewed forth by the dictators known as 'broadcasters' for the 'festive' season on television these were a... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Hemloch Corbeau
Busby Burkeley at his best! Biggest sets, smallest costumes (for the girls), amazing photography for the time, he pushed everything to the limits,, and tons of your favorite stars... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Harry Tolen
This is absolutely great. I have wanted for a long time, just a compilation of just Busby Berkeley routines. This covers a great deal of them. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kathryn G. Empey
Raunchy, silly, kaleidoscopic fun, with fabulous early Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, the forgotten Aileen McMahon and the great Cagney. (And, well, Ruby Keeler... Read morePublished 14 months ago by arejaytoo
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