From Library Journal
"In this thoroughly researched book...Spivak shows a keen understanding of Berkeley's talents but does not ignore his flaws...recommended for knowledgeable movie buffs."
, Library Journal
Spivak’s well-written biography of the Hollywood choreographer and director, famous for the complicated, kaleidoscopic dances he choreographed for such films as 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, has scholarly depth yet is gracefully accessible. Spivak’s writing is especially strong when he discusses Berkeley’s trademark style—playful, visually arresting dances, packed with large numbers of chorus girls dancing in lockstep—and his myriad artistic influences, which include his mother, who was in the theater and silent movies; and a stint in the military, where he drilled soldiers to march in formation. In his prime, Berkeley worked extremely long hours like a man possessed, driving himself and his dancers to the brink of collapse and, in Berkeley’s case, beyond, into an alcoholism that eventually all but destroyed his career. Cineastes will enjoy Spivak’s close attention to Berkeley’s obsessively detailed planning and execution processes, and Spivak’s no-less-detailed descriptions of the final films. And for those who like movie gossip, there’s Berkeley’s wild, dysfunctional private life (which included parties, love affairs, and multiple marriages, all fueled by too much alcohol). --Jack Helbig