Busby Berkeley

Series Site

"He really took off when Ruby Keeler, via a single cut, moved from tapping in front of a painted backdrop to dismounting from an actual cab on a three-dimensional set of 42nd Street, complete with traffic, mounted police, and hundreds of dancers, all in character – but that was only the beginning. In his heyday, dance director, choreographer, auteur… and visionary Busby Berkeley (1895-1976) created a series of still must-be-seen-to-be-believed musical numbers (most in lustrous black & white) that included overhead shots of dancers forming mind-boggling kaleidoscopes; fifty-six white grand pianos rolling around the stage in patterns; scores of chorus girls playing neon-lit violins in the dark; a camera tunneling through the gams of tightly-muscled dames; a Technicolor dream with Carmen Miranda sporting a 50-foot fruit basket – all enough to send even a hardened surrealist’s head spinning. The first to realize the endless cinematic possibilities of the musical form, Berkeley has been widely imitated – but never equaled. Not even close." - Film Forum