The Busby Berkeley Collection: Volume 2
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Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2
Includes the following greats: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 Insurance peddler Dick Powell asks Joan Blondell to imagine how life would be With Plenty of Money and You. There’s razzle-dazzle aplenty too, with Berkeley’s precision-formation of All’s Fair in Love and War. GOLD DIGGERS IN PARIS Rudy Vallee’s tap-dancing cuties are mistakenly invited – expenses paid, natch – to Paris for a ballet tour. Watch the Diggers shine in numbers both magnifique and loaded with moxie! HOLLYWOOD HOTEL Hooray for Hollywood! And for this snappy all-star salute that stars Dick Powell as a filmland hopeful and includes Benny Goodman’s band as it swing, swing, swings into Sing, Sing, Sing. VARSITY SHOW Can Dick Powell rescue his alma mater’s floundering musical revue? He’ll have plenty of help – especially with Berkeley’s knockout of a football- themed finale. WONDER BAR Don’t miss the eye-popping geometry of Don’t Say Goodnight. Music, melodrama, Al Jolson’s moxie and Berkeley’s magic shape “the quintessential Warner Bros. ’30s musical.” (Clive Hirschhorn, The Warner Bros. Story).]]>
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The first film and maybe the best is "Golddiggers of 1937", a cynical and not very likeable farce set around insurance salesmen. Berkeley regulars, Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, married at the time, are the leads and since Blondell is neither a singer nor dancer of any note, if at all, there is a hole in the accompanying musical numbers. The climax is the battle of the sexes number "All's fair in love and war" and Berkeley's penchant for precision marching and formations is prevalent and dreary.
"Hollywood Hotel" directed entirely by Berkeley, is overlong but the musical numbers, particularly the title number and "Let that be a lesson to You" have real visual flair, infectious orchestrations and the vocals tossed around the cast and extras. They bounce and jump off the screen. Benny Goodman and Francis Langford bring a touch of class and Harry James can be seen in Goodman's band. The screenplay is a reasonably entertaining spoof on stardom with Lola Lane playing a temperamental star and Alan Mowbray giving an hilarious spoof of a ham actor. There are lots of then topical references to Hollywood, Ronald Reagan is visible as a radio announcer and starlet Carole Landis has a bit as a hat check girl. Louella Parsons, the famous and lethal gossip columnist appears, grinning her role and sure determined to convince that she was a nice person, which she wasn't!
The remaining films are busy musical comedies populated by second string musical performers. Here are some points to note:
* Rosemary Lane, with charm to spare, has a trained operetta voice which sounds dreadful with pop numbers
* Rudy Vallee plays a very sophisticated lead in "Goldiggers in Paris" and while he is more relaxed than usual, he is no substitute for the appealing and energetic Powell.
* Ted Healy, of 3 Stooges fame, has a really sleazy screen presence. He is horrible.
* "Varsity Show" suffers from an edited print. The film's continuity is adversely effected and at least 2 numbers from Powell and the Lane sisters are missing. This is a giant "college" musical and the finale, a tribute to Ivy league is fantastic, maybe the best number of all in the set.
The prints of the films are in great condition and the extras contain lots of pleasant cartoons, usually attached to songs from the films, all the theatrical trailers and some shorts, most of which are awful. "Goldiggers of '37" also contains the only remaining footage from "Goldiggers of Broadway", a lost 1929 early talkie and filmed in 2 strip technicolour. The footage will be of interest if you would like to see what a Broadway finale was like in the twenties, but otherwise, it is crude and stilted. A parade of performers appear, rushing on, doing their bit (maybe a dance or acrobatics or a chorus or 2), then rush off. Some are very good but the overall affect is merely busy and all the acts are anonymous.
The set is not really expensive and it has been nicely packaged but unless you are particularly interested in the music or a catalogue of Berkeley's work, I wouldn't bother.