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Busby Berkeley

Just got a boxed set of his films. I'd seen a couple of the Gold Diggers films before, and I saw Dames for the first time tonight.

I know the dance sequences are campy, but they're also ingenious. It's not just the intricacy of the numbers that amazes me. They're mesmerizing and sometimes verge on visionary. Like sixty Ruby Keeler heads spinning in unison and dissolving to an enormous eye, and then the eye's pupil opens like a camera shutter and Ruby herself shoots up through it, smiling and dewy, for an extreme close-up. Imagine what he'd do with today's technology.

by Anonymousreply 6305/06/2013

I LOVE "Shanghai Lil!!"

by Anonymousreply 111/05/2010

Was a monster to Judy.

by Anonymousreply 211/05/2010

I love all the identical costumes, the choreography was pretty complex too.I think Busby Berkley is not appreciated enough these days.

by Anonymousreply 311/05/2010

The most fantastic thing about Busby was that he wasn't gay.

by Anonymousreply 411/05/2010

Used to watch them hours with my coke dealer. Mesmerizing!

by Anonymousreply 511/05/2010

[quote]The most fantastic thing about Busby was that he wasn't gay.

Really not gay or just closeted like most people in that era?.

by Anonymousreply 611/05/2010

There was no gay back then, just "flamboyant."

by Anonymousreply 711/05/2010


by Anonymousreply 811/05/2010

The "We're in the Money" sequence from "Gold Diggers of 1933" including Ginger Rogers singing in pig Latin

by Anonymousreply 911/05/2010


by Anonymousreply 1011/05/2010

I worked with a lady whose father worked in the entertainment industry in the Golden Era of Hollywood. We were talking about a documentary on him once. I said they mentioned he love the ladies a lot. She rolled her eyes, and she said he was gay. I said, but he was married and his friends didn't mention a word about him being gay. She said, his friends liked him a lot and they were just being nice, and his wives were just beards.

by Anonymousreply 1111/05/2010

A sad man. He was a terrible alcoholic who killed two people in a drunk driving accident. First jury was hung, the second one let him off to the shock and despair of his victims' families. Studio influence is believed to have aided his case.%0D %0D He had six wives which seems to be about equally good evidence that he was gay or straight. He "directed" the legendary revivalof No, NO NANETTE in name only being too old and feeble to do anything but lend his famous name to the proceedings.

by Anonymousreply 1211/06/2010

Love, love love those dance routines.

by Anonymousreply 1311/06/2010

Ruby Keeler's spinning head was the inspiration for "The Exorcist".%0D %0D True story!

by Anonymousreply 1411/06/2010

Maybe the greatest sequence of all time was in "Gold Diggers of 1935," which features 56 showgirls at 56 white baby grand pianos performing, in Busby Berkeley's words, "a kind of military drill in waltz time" to a song by Harry Warren. The pianos (manipulated by unseen stagehands underneath them) dance around with precision timing.

by Anonymousreply 1511/06/2010

Well he had kids with those "beards", R11.

by Anonymousreply 1611/06/2010

In yesterday's review of For Colored Girls, Manohla Dargis in the Times compared some of directorial technique to Berkeley's. She actually liked the movie. I'm still skeptical as it sounds like he tritely turned the play into a victim politics parade.

by Anonymousreply 1711/06/2010

I like his color work better, like his water "spectaculars" for Esther Williams, or this fantastic number starring Carmen Miranda from "the Gang's All Here". Look at what he has those girls doing with those giant bananas and then tell me he's not gay!

by Anonymousreply 1811/06/2010

"They're mesmerizing and sometimes verge on visionary."%0D %0D And just what would it take for them to tip over into "visionary" status for you, OP?

by Anonymousreply 1911/06/2010

I don't understand why he was such a bitch towards Judy, but Carole Landis liked him enough to date him. Carole was a good person... I liked Gold Diggers of 1933, (except that extreme close up of Ginger). The other two movies were boring, maybe because 1933 was pre code which are the best.

by Anonymousreply 2011/06/2010

Carole Landis, however, was clearly emotionally unstable, R20.

She killed herself after her affair with Rex Harrison ended, and three failed marriages, and she was only 29. Who in their right mind does that?

by Anonymousreply 2111/06/2010

[quote]First jury was hung

All male, I hope.

by Anonymousreply 2211/06/2010

It's hard to describe exactly, R19. The geometric patterns are beautiful and the so much of it is camp, but then there will be a sequence that stops me in my tracks and makes me leave my body for a second. One example is in a YouTube video linked upthread. It opens with a square tunnel of women rotating around a black, diamond-shaped void. The frozen, smiling faces of the showgirls... the smooth rotation and floating camera...the glitter and feeling that you are traveling through.... I don't know, it's like a fractal pattern or, at least, a kaleidoscope made out of humans.

by Anonymousreply 2311/06/2010

R23 has been smoking copious amounts of pot.

by Anonymousreply 2411/06/2010

Transcendence for smokers of copious pot starts at the 1:30-ish mark:

by Anonymousreply 2511/06/2010

[Well he had kids with those "beards", [R11].]

There is nothing remotely unusual about that. I have no idea whether he was gay or not, but fathering children is no indicator.

by Anonymousreply 2611/06/2010

[quote]The most fantastic thing about Busby was that he wasn't gay.%0D %0D I think I know what you meant by that, but it really sounds like an insult to the gay community. %0D %0D Maybe you'd like to replace "fantastic" with "surprising", or "unexpected" (unless you truly meant fantsay-like because you believe he actually WAS gay).%0D %0D I know my suggestions may make it a stereotype-perpetuating statement, but a) I think that's what you meant and b) better stereotypical than homophobic.%0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 2711/06/2010

"I don't understand why he was such a bitch towards Judy,"

You're a perfectionist and your star shows up looking like shit and giving bad performances because she's strung out on drugs. Get it?

by Anonymousreply 2811/06/2010

Strung out on the drugs that the studio you work for gave her

by Anonymousreply 2911/06/2010

They weren't all fluff; "Remember My Forgotten Man" is GREAT number.

by Anonymousreply 3011/06/2010

Why did Ruby Keeler's career die out so quickly?

by Anonymousreply 3111/06/2010

[quote]Was that really the first one?%0D %0D No, but we're not looking for a first flop now, are we? Otherwise the answer for Elizabeth Taylor would be "Cleopatra", which makes no sense at all, since she went on to do "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf?" afterwards, which earned her a second Oscar (and the only one she truly deserved).%0D %0D We're looking for fate-sealers, nails on coffins.

by Anonymousreply 3211/06/2010

Ruby Keeler grew tired of the public long before they tired of her. She wanted to enjoy married life and privacy. Her husband, Al Jolson, was such a fame-whore that he kept dragging her back into the spotlight. %0D %0D She divorced Jolson and took their son with her. The boy was adopted by her second husband, a rich businessman with whom she had a few more children. She left show business so far behind that her kids were surprised to learn in later years that their mother had been a big movie star.

by Anonymousreply 3311/06/2010

Oops, ignore runaway post r32, already returned to its proper thread.

by Anonymousreply 3411/06/2010

There's something strange about Ruby Keeler. She almost looks a little slow sometimes, or vacant. Not a great beauty IMO, and not a great actress from what I've seen. What was the appeal?

by Anonymousreply 3511/06/2010

I met Ruby Keeler in 1985. She was very gracious and took every stupid question thrust at her (re Al Jolson, who was such a forgotten throwback in her life) with a certain dignified quality.%0D %0D Same exact face, except for a few more chins and big pearls to cover her neck. Very Barbara Bush.

by Anonymousreply 3611/06/2010

[quote]What was the appeal?%0D %0D The supposed appeal was her girlish charm and child-like eagerness to please the audience. The great joke was that her image was that of the simple chorus cutie who held on to her naive innocence when in fact she had been a gangaster's moll who went on to marry the richest entertainer in show business.

by Anonymousreply 3711/06/2010

Even if Ruby Keeler had wanted to stay in Hollywood, her career wouldn't have lasted much longer. She was very cute, likeable, sweet, and dim, but she seemed so girlish. Once she could no longer have passed for a girl, well, she would have seemed pathetically delayed.%0D %0D Does anyone know how they did the rotating tunnel of showgirls?

by Anonymousreply 3811/06/2010

Ruby really was FABULOUS in No No Nanette all those years later in 1970. What an incredible manipulation of novelty casting.%0D %0D Patsy Kelly, too!

by Anonymousreply 3911/06/2010

R20,et al: I'm sure Berkeley was a bitch to dear little Judy. She was a spoiled, coddled dopehead. There is no doubt she had great talent. But the fact of the matter is that Judy fucked up her own life. What she needed was more people like Berkeley who wouldn't put up with her shit and demand that she act like a professional. Same with MM.

by Anonymousreply 4011/06/2010

I haven't seen you in ages

but it's not as bleak as it seems

We still dance on whirling stages

in my Busby Berkeley dreams

The tears have stained all the pages

of my True Romance magazines

we still dance in my outrageously beautiful

Busby Berkeley dreams

by Anonymousreply 4111/06/2010

R27 - sorry, English is not my first language, but yeah, that's what I mean, unexpected. I mean, looking at his work, one would certainly think he was gay - it was all so grandiose and camp and delirious and fantastic looking.

by Anonymousreply 4211/06/2010

R40, Judy Garland could not help being the way she was. On the set of Meet Me in Saint Louie, she was horrible, and the cast and crew were just pissed off. Mary Astor said, let me talk to her. She pulled Judy aside and sat down with her, and asked her, what is the matter with you? Judy broke down and said, I have to work on a movie set during the day and then at night the studio makes me record songs, I'm exhausted and my head is spinning. Mary Astor gave her a hug said, I'm so sorry honey I understand. That is terrible. The cast tried their best to accommodate her from that point on.

R40, the studios owned you, and the word no was a word that the movie stars weren't allowed to use. They didn't have the power to use that word only the studio executives did. The studios made multi-millions of dollars off of her and then dumped her. She wound up sneaking out the back door of hotels because she couldn't afford to pay the hotel bill.

I mentioned this in a previous thread, but my mother's friend was once a costume designer in Hollywood, and she designed costumes for Judy Garland. She said Judy could never pay for her services, but Judy was such an extremely sweet lady that it was a pleasure to work for her for free. If people said to Judy I like your ring she would say, take it it's yours even though she was very broke all the time.

by Anonymousreply 4311/06/2010

R43: I'm sure Judy had many fine qualities, but the fact remains, she was unprofessional, wiilful, and spoiled.She needed to grow up and she never did. She attracted people who exploited and used her. All she needed to do was to take control and tell them to fuck off, but she was too weak to stand up to the men who used her. She was too needy to be a real mensch. I am not saying she was a bad person, just a weak one.

by Anonymousreply 4411/06/2010

[quote]The studios made multi-millions of dollars off of her and then dumped her. She wound up sneaking out the back door of hotels because she couldn't afford to pay the hotel bill.%0D %0D She made plenty of money. She and her rotten husbands blew it all. She snuck out of hotels because she always insisted on living in First Class conditions even when she was broke and deep in debt.

by Anonymousreply 4511/06/2010

BB hAd no kids

by Anonymousreply 4611/06/2010

Berkeley's musicals numbers are frequently hilarious, bot considering the technical devices he had available then, they are truly amazing.

by Anonymousreply 4711/07/2010


by Anonymousreply 4805/04/2013

One of my favorite songs of all time, courtesy of The Magnetic Fields.

by Anonymousreply 4905/04/2013

I used to watch a lot of Busby Berkeley with my coke dealer.

by Anonymousreply 5005/04/2013

I tried looking up the full name of the male lead in lots of those 1930s Busby Berkeley films, but you know, when you put 'gold diggers' and 'dick' into Google......

by Anonymousreply 5105/05/2013

There were NO hot men cast in BB's films, not as the leads (Dick Powell? Jimmy Cagney?? Warner Baxter??? Mickey Rooney????), and certainly not in the chorus.

I think that stands as unshakeable proof that BB was straight.

by Anonymousreply 5205/05/2013

Ruby Keeler was the right star at the right time for BB and his early 30s Warners musicals. She may have been a little dim but she was a unique presence.

And believe it or not, she was electric in her comeback on Broadway in No No Nanette in 1970....certainly one of the greatest comebacks in show biz history.

by Anonymousreply 5305/05/2013

Berkeley never thought that Judy was special or pretty.

He said that with all the beautiful stars at MGM he was given Judy to work with.

He just didn't like her and resented having to do her movies.



It was just a factory for films, a place where they worked, much like the buildings where you all work today.

It's just that they made movies.

by Anonymousreply 5405/05/2013

Berkeley worked with Judy while she was still a teenager and into her very early 20s when she was still a rather remarkable work horse, who learned very quickly. I think the problem for both was a mutual disdain for how the other operated in general. Judy is excellent in all of her Buzz Berkeley directed numbers, until Annie Get Your Gun, and even then the "I'm an Indian Too" number came out great, I think!

by Anonymousreply 5505/05/2013

He never liked working with Garland no matter how young, willing and talented she was.

Remember, Mayer thought she was not pretty. He called her my little hunchback.

She was not considered a beauty at all, she was passable according to studio standards and Berkeley resented having to work with her.

Her saving grace was that the audience loved her and she was supremely talented.

The public thought that she was beautiful, and she was, but Busby Berkeley, never saw it.

by Anonymousreply 5605/05/2013

Well, Ruby Keeler wasn't beautiful either, or talented, but Berkeley made about a million films with her during the 1930s. Judy was not only a much better singer, dancer, and actress than Keeler, she was arguably prettier.

If Berkeley didn't like working with Garland, it had to be a personality conflict, or a professionalism issue. Although God knows Berkeley didn't have much room to talk on that front, by the 1940s.

by Anonymousreply 5705/05/2013

"With a 200 pound negro prostitute!"

by Anonymousreply 5805/05/2013

Wrong thread! Haha

by Anonymousreply 5905/05/2013

That's a lousy and misleading photo of Ruby Keeler.

by Anonymousreply 6005/05/2013

The Lady in the Tutti Fruitti Hat

by Anonymousreply 6105/05/2013

I Got Rhythm is fantastic.

by Anonymousreply 6205/05/2013

I could see how straight men would have found young Ruby Keeler sexy and highly desirable but not Judy.

by Anonymousreply 6305/06/2013
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