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The Busby Berkeley Collection (Footlight Parade / Gold Diggers of 1933 / Dames / Gold Diggers of 1935 / 42nd Street)

4.8 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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  • 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, Vol. 2 (Gold Diggers of 1937 / Gold Diggers in Paris / Hollywood Hotel / Varsity Show)
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  • TCM Greatest Classic Film Collection: Astaire & Rogers (The Gay Divorcee / Top Hat / Swing Time / Shall We Dance)
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Product Description

Busby Berkeley Collection, The (DVD) (6-Pack)

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.


The Busby Berkeley Collection celebrates the work of one of the most visually inventive director-choreographers in the history of film. The centerpiece is of course 42nd Street (1933). This is the quintessential backstage musical in which young Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) goes from wide-eyed chorus girl to leading lady, urged by Warner Baxter, "You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" A cast that also includes Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers (when she was an RKO contract player and before she teamed up with Fred Astaire) performs "Shuffle Off to Buffalo, " "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," and the title tune, in which Keeler tap-dances on a black surface that turns out to be the roof of a car. Berkeley's numbers are known for their kaleidoscopic patterns, their stark black-and-white contrast, and their sheer sense of spectacle. But more than anything, they're known for their celebration of women. By the dozens, they dance, play pianos, frolic in waterfalls, and, in some of the most overtly sexual numbers, stand spread-eagled in a line as the camera passes through their legs. In many ways, the title song from Dames sums it up best: "What do you go for / to see a show for? / Tell the truth, you go to see those beautiful dames."

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

Special Features

  • 42nd Street (1933)
  • 3 Vintage Featurettes:
  • Harry Warren: America's Foremost Composer
  • Hollywood Newsreel
  • A Trip Through a Hollywood Studio
  • Notes on Busby Berkeley
  • Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
  • New Featurette: Good Diggers: FDR's New Deal...Broadway Bound
  • 2 Vintage Featurettes:
  • Rambling 'Round Radio Show #2
  • Seasoned Greatings
  • 3 Vintage Cartoons:
  • I've Got to Sing a Torch Song
  • Pettin' in the Park
  • We're in the Money
  • New Featurette 42nd Street: From Book to Stage to Screen
  • Vintage Featurette The 42nd Street Special
  • Busby Berkeley Musicals Trailer Gallery
  • Footlight Parade (1933)
  • New Featurette Footlight Parade: Music for the Decades
  • Rambling 'Round Radio Row #8
  • Vaudeville Reel #1
  • 2 Vintage Cartoons:
  • Honeymoon Hotel
  • Young and Healthy
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Dames (1934)
  • New Featurette Busby Berkeley's Kaleidoscopic Eyes
  • And She Learned About Dames
  • Good Morning, Eve
  • Melody Master: Don Redman and His Orchestra
  • I Only Have Eyes for You
  • Those Beautiful Dames
  • Audio-Only Bonus: Direct from Hollywood Radio Promo
  • Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  • New Featurette: (buz'be bur'kle)n. A Study in Style
  • Vintage Featurette: Double Exposure
  • Gold Diggers of '49
  • Shuffle Off to Buffalo
  • Direct from Hollywood Radio promo
  • Gold Diggers Trailer Gallery
  • The exclusive bonus The Busby Berkeley Disc, a compilation of over 20 complete musical numbers from nine Warner Bros. films of the 1930s

Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Blondell, James Cagney, Warren William, Dick Powell, Warner Baxter
  • Directors: Lloyd Bacon, Mervyn LeRoy, Ray Enright, Busby Berkeley
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 518 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E0OE1M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,368 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Busby Berkeley Collection (Footlight Parade / Gold Diggers of 1933 / Dames / Gold Diggers of 1935 / 42nd Street)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I am sure that I am one of many who are incredibly excited about the upcoming release of these brilliant Busby Berkeley musicals! Each of these films contain many of the big screen's most unforgettable moments, and all five merit inclusion in this fine DVD package.

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.

My mini-reviews:

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).
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Format: DVD

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?
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hooray for Warner Home Video! Just before the turn of last year - about a week before I learned of the release of this mouth watering set - I said to my wife "wouldn't it be great if Warners did a Berkeley collection?" and I went on to tick off the names of the exact titles included in this set.

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!
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Lullaby of Broadway
No, it was Golddiggers of 1935. Check it out, it was a really good movie.
Dec 20, 2006 by Karen Cox |  See all 2 posts
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