BUSBY BERKELEY Film Fest!

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“BUSBY BERKELEY,” a nine-day festival spotlighting the early movie musical trailblazer famous for his eye-popping kaleidoscopic production numbers, will run at Film Forum from Wednesday, December 7 through Thursday, December 15.

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. Dance director, choreographer, auteur… and visionary. In his heyday, Busby Berkeley (1895-1976) mounted 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 a hardened surrealist’s head spinning.

 

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Says Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum’s Director of Repertory Programming, “Berkeley was the first to realize the endless cinematic possibilities of the musical form. Imitators have never even come close to what he created in the early 30s – not even with tools like CGI.”

Berkeley was born to an actress mother in Los Angeles and first performed on stage at age five. After a stint in the army during WWI, he began his career as a dance director and choreographer, working on nearly two-dozen Broadway shows. His film career began with producer Samuel Goldwyn, but he became a household name with his a string of iconic successes at Warner Bros.: 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933, and many others, featuring one astounding production number after another.

In addition to his work as a choreographer and dance director (though neither title does justice to what he actually did), the festival also includes features films entirely directed by Berkeley, including Gold Diggers of 1935 (featuring the spectacular “Lullaby of Broadway” number); Hollywood Hotel (which introduced the song “Hooray for Hollywood”), the Technicolor extravaganza The Gang’s All Here, with Carmen Miranda sporting the world’s largest fruit basket; Strike Up the Band and Babes on Broadway, both featuring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney; For Me and My Gal, with Garland and Gene Kelly (in his debut); Take Me Out to the Ball Game, with Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Esther Williams, and written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; and a rare non-musical, They Made Me a Criminal, starring John Garfield, Claude Rains, and the Dead End Kids. Most films in the series will be screened as part of double features (two films for one admission), and most of the features will be screened in archival 35m prints.

December 7, the opening day of the festival, is the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition to the Berkeley double feature that day, Cavalcade of 1941, a vintage short including FDR’s famous “date that will live in infamy” speech, will be screened.

“Busby Berkeley” has been programmed by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum’s Director of Repertory Programming.

For complete public screening schedule, see below.

Public Screening Schedule

DECEMBER 7 WED
DOUBLE FEATURE
ROMAN SCANDALS (1933, Frank Tuttle) 35mm
Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Gloria Stuart
3:30, 7:55

STRIKE UP THE BAND (1940, Busby Berkeley) 35mm print preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive
Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Paul Whiteman and Orchestra
Songs by George and Ira Gershwin.
12:30, 5:25, 9:45
PLUS “Cavalcade of 1941” 35mm

DECEMBER 8 THU
DOUBLE FEATURE
DAMES (1934, Ray Enright) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell
12:30, 4:00, 7:30

FASHIONS OF 1934 (1934, William Dieterle) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
William Powell, Bette Davis, Frank McHugh
2:20, 5:50, 9:20

DECEMBER 9 FRI
DOUBLE FEATURE
THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943, Busy Berkeley) DCP
Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
12:30, 4:30, 8:30

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME (1949, Busby Berkeley) 35mm
Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams
2:35, 6:35

DECEMBER 10 SAT
DOUBLE FEATURE
42ND STREET (1933, Lloyd Bacon) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell
12:30, 4:25, 8:20

THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943, Busby Berkeley) DCP
2:20, 6:15, 10:10

DECEMBER 11 SUN
DOUBLE FEATURE
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933, Mervyn LeRoy) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
Warren William, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers
12:30, 4:30, 8:30

FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933, Lloyd Bacon) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell
2:25, 6:25

DECEMBER 12 MON
Separate Admission
FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933, Lloyd Bacon) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
12:40

DECEMBER 12 MON
DOUBLE FEATURE
THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL (1939, Busby Berkeley) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress  
John Garfield, Claude Rains, Ann Sheridan, the Dead End Kids
4:05, 7:20

NIGHT WORLD (1932, Hobart Henley) 35mm
Lew Ayres, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
2:45, 6:00, 9:10

DECEMBER 13 TUE
DOUBLE FEATURE
THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943, Busby Berkeley) DCP
12:30

42ND STREET (1933, Lloyd Bacon) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
2:35

DECEMBER 13 TUE
DOUBLE FEATURE
BABES ON BROADWAY (1941, Busby Berkeley) 35mm
Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland
4:25, 8:45

FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942, Busby Berkeley) 35mm print courtesy Harvard Film Archive  
Judy Garland, Gene Kelly
6:45

DECEMBER 14 WED
DOUBLE FEATURE
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935, Busby Berkeley) 35mm
Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart
12:30, 4:15, 8:00

WONDER BAR (1934, Lloyd Bacon) HD
Al Jolson, Kay Francis, Dick Powell, Dolores del Río,
2:25, 6:10, 9:55

DECEMBER 15 THU
Separate Admission
42ND STREET (1933, Lloyd Bacon) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
12:30

DECEMBER 15 THU
DOUBLE FEATURE
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL (1937, Busby Berkeley) 35mm print preserved by Library of Congress
Dick Powell, Rosemary Lane, Hugh Herbert, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
4:35, 8:40

IN CALIENTE (1935, Lloyd Bacon) New 35mm print courtesy Library of Congress
Dolores del Río, Pat O’Brien, Glenda Farrell
2:35, 6:40

Repertory calendar programmed by Bruce Goldstein
For more information, links and showtimes, visit www.filmforum.org
For downloadable photos and press notes, go to: www.filmforum.org/press

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