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Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley (Screen Classics) Hardcover – December 1, 2010
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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."
--Stephen Rees, 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
Top customer reviews
p. 214 "[Gertrude] insisted on going, saying to whomever [sic] would listen..." Surely someone who is a professional writing for a university press should know that the subject of "would listen" should be in the subjective case.
p. 214 "Hopefully her opinion of the show was brighter than the critics', for the next-day reviews were perfectly awful." This sentence simply does not parse. And the author's misuse of the overused and usually misused "hopefully" is unforgivable.
p. 215 "More than a mere employee, Buzz respected Frank..." Frank is the employee. Can you spell: dangling modifier?
Spivak really dishes the dirt and his style is eminently readable. But I found myself gritting my teeth at errors unworthy of a great press. If the book goes into another printing, "hopefully" [grrr] a bit of judicious re-editing will be forthcoming.