Digital Review

The Busby Berkeley Disc

The musical-production numbers created by Busby Berkeley in the 1930s are works of gaga movie surrealism that still astound. This extraordinary laserdisc-only release compiles 22 of his best, including several numbers — notable for near-nudity and risqué material — that were filmed before the Production Code censors clamped down in 1934. Technical innovations abound, from violins outlined by then-new neon tubes (''Shadow Waltz'') to strategically placed mirrors that create the impression of thousands of dancers performing (''Don't Say Goodnight''). The disc includes Berkeley's own favorite, ''Lullaby of Broadway,'' which features the most massive tap dance ever filmed. Yes, The Busby Berkeley Disc has lots of Berkeley's loopy geometric patterns shot from elevated camera angles — and yes, there are numerous kitschy touches. But also on display are cinematic ingeniousness and a timeless sense of fun. A

Originally posted Nov 06, 1992 Published in issue #143 Nov 06, 1992 Order article reprints
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