Warner Home Video Press Release: The Busby Berkeley Collection

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    “Come and meet those dancing feet …”
    The Busby Berkeley Collection
    Footlight Parade
    Gold Diggers of 1933
    Dames
    Gold Diggers of 1935
    42nd Street
    Four restored, New-to-DVD Films along with 42nd Street (newly repackaged in Amaray “keepcase” packaging) plus Berkeley Bonus Disc Debut March 21
    6-Disc Boxed Set Boasts Five New Featurettes, a Bonus Compilation of Berkeley’s Greatest Musical Numbers, Multiple Vintage Shorts and Cartoons

    Burbank, Calif. December 5, 2005 – The Busby Berkeley Collection – five remastered Warner Bros. classics from one of the greatest motion picture choreographers of all time -- debuts March 21 from Warner Home Video. Titles include Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade, Dames and Gold Diggers of 1935 (all new to DVD); 42nd Street (repackaged in Amaray “keepcase” packaging ) and The Busby Berkeley Disc, a nearly three-hour compendium of the unique musical extravaganzas created by Berkeley during his Warner Bros. years.

    As with WHV’s original DVD release of 42nd Street several years ago, each feature film in this collection has been meticulously restored and remastered from its original nitrate camera negatives and optical soundtracks. The six-disc collection, with extensive bonus materials including five informative and entertaining new featurettes illustrating Berkeley’s talent, style and technique, will sell for $59.92 SRP. While 42nd Street remains available individually for $19.97 SRP/ $14.95 MAP, all other content is exclusive to this boxed set.

    Busby Berkeley and the Birth of the Hollywood Musical
    With the arrival of Warner Bros.’ landmark release of The Jazz Singer in 1927, the first film with synchronized musical numbers and dialogue, the motion picture industry was changed forever, as the studios scrambled to move from silents to talkies. Musical films were a natural to take advantage of the new technology, and the studios began grinding them out at a quick pace, often importing Broadway hits and a great deal of New York talent. With rare exception, these musicals were basically filmed plays with no camera movement, threadbare plots and little creativity. A few years later, the genre was dead and buried…until Busby Berkeley came along. With limitless imagination and unparalleled talent, Berkeley single-handedly revived the musical motion picture and there was no turning back.

    William Berkeley Enos was born in Los Angeles on November 29, 1895. He began his career in the US Army conducting and directing parades and then staging camp shows for the soldiers. After returning to civilian life, he became a stage actor and assistant director for smaller acting troupes. He found his calling when forced to take over the direction of the musical “Holka Polka”; and, with his talent for staging lavish and complex dance routines he soon became one of Broadway’s top dance directors. Samuel Goldwyn brought him to Hollywood in 1930 to stage the musical numbers for several Eddie Cantor musicals but his contribution raised little awareness with audiences or the industry.

    Darryl F. Zanuck, then head of production at Warner Bros., hired “Buzz” for his first huge film break -- to direct the musical numbers of Warner’s latest project, 42nd Street. The studio took a huge gamble on both the property and Berkeley; but a snappy script and a story that has become the granddaddy of backstage musicals made the film a massive hit, primarily as a result of the amazing, kaleidoscopic and fascinating choreography Berkeley created for the end of the film. It wasn’t long before he was given a seven-year contract at the studio.

    Berkeley went on to work on almost every great Warner musical produced in the ‘30s, receiving three Oscar® nominations for Best Dance Direction. Using only one camera, he was fearless about getting just the right shot, even if it meant drilling holes in roofs and floors to achieve his vision. He dressed his chorus girls in outlandish costumes -- as coins or musical instruments or in nothing but wisps of gauzy material. There was no limit to his imagination.

    Many studios tried to copy Berkeley’s style but their efforts were pale imitations. There was only one Busby Berkeley. Although he made his last contribution to cinema more than 40 years ago, Berkeley remains an icon in American culture.

    The Busby Berkeley Collection

    42nd Street (1933)
    This unforgettable musical classic represents Berkeley’s first major cinematic masterpiece. Warner Baxter stars as stage director Julian Marsh, pressured by the threat of an impending early demise, to create one last great Broadway hit. The quintessential ‘put-on-a-show’ plot spins merrily, full of snappy banter with then-newcomers Ruby Keeler (her film debut), Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers. Shuffle off to Buffalo, You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me and the title tune still dazzle. This is the film where Baxter uttered the immortal line to understudy Keeler, (stepping in at the last minute for star Bebe Daniels, who has just broken her leg)…“You’re going out there a youngster…but you’ve got to come back a star!”

    DVD Special Features
    3 Vintage Featurettes:
    oHarry Warren: America’s Foremost Composer
    oHollywood Newsreel
    oA Trip Through a Hollywood Studio

    •Notes on Busby Berkeley
    •Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)


    Gold Diggers of 1933 (New to DVD!)
    Soon after 42nd Street, Warner Bros. released this sensational Depression-lifting production. Mervyn Le Roy directs the non-musical portions involving three wonderfully silly love matches (including Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler). Berkeley brings his peerless magic to the production numbers, including the pre-production code, sexually suggestive Pettin’ in the Park, the stunning spectacle of The Shadow Waltz and the remarkably provocative and frank Remember My Forgotten Man. The film is probably best-known for opening up with a close-up of lovely Ginger Rogers and her leggy dancing chorus girls in giant coins singing We’re in the Money.

    DVD Special Features:
    •New Featurette Good Diggers: FDR’s New Deal…Broadway Bound
    •2 Vintage Featurettes:
    oRambling ’Round Radio Row #2
    oSeasoned Greetings
    •3 Vintage Cartoons:
    oI’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song
    oPettin’ in the Park
    oWe’re in the Money
    •New Featurette 42nd Street: From Book to Stage to Screen
    •Vintage Featurette The 42nd Street Special
    •Busby Berkeley Musicals Trailer Gallery
    •Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)

    Footlight Parade (1933-New to DVD!)
    One of Berkeley’s greatest extravaganzas, the frequent Berkeley cast of stars including Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler and Joan Blondell have to take less of the spotlight due to the bravura performance of triple-threat James Cagney, making his musical film debut. Cagney was one of the hottest actors of the era, known for his portrayal of fast-talking, hard-boiled gangsters and tough guys. However, Cagney got his start in vaudeville years earlier, not only singing, but dancing in a way that was surely his own. It’s that same song-and-dance style that led him to winning the Academy Award ® for Best Actor in 1942’s Yankee Doodle Dandy. As with all the films in this collection a bevy of hit tunes are provided by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin, including the racy Honeymoon Hotel, the fascinating Shanghai Lil featuring Cagney’s unforgettable tap-dance duet with Keeler, and the utterly sensational By a Waterfall, a show-stopping, imagination-bending production number that includes a revolving wedding cake fountain, an elaborate aquacade of 100 bathing-suited girls and a 20,000-gallon-per-minute waterfall.

    DVD Special Features:
    •New Featurette Footlight Parade: Music for the Decades
    •2 Vintage Featurettes:
    oRambling ’Round Radio Row #8
    oVaudeville Reel #1
    •2 Vintage Cartoons:
    oHoneymoon Hotel
    oYoung and Healthy
    •Theatrical Trailer
    •Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)



    Dames (1934-New to DVD!)
    Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler again star in this tale of stage hopefuls who run up against a disapproving decency group. Berkeley reinvents filmmaking with a subway dream (I Only Have Eyes for You), a staggeringly kaleidoscopic arrangement of showgirls in black tights (Dames), and other bravura imaginings. Reviewers labeled this blissful musical “Gold Diggers of 1934” because of its stars from the prior Gold Diggers movie, its showbiz story and its glorious Berkeley razzmatazz.

    DVD Special Features
    •New Featurette Busby Berkeley’s Kaleidoscopic Eyes
    •3 Vintage Featurettes:
    oAnd She Learned About Dames
    oGood Morning, Eve
    oMelody Master: Don Redman and His Orchestra
    •2 Vintage Cartoons:
    oI Only Have Eyes for You
    oThose Beautiful Dames
    •Audio-Only Bonus: Direct from Hollywood Radio Promo
    •Theatrical Trailer
    •Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)

    Gold Diggers of 1935 (New to DVD!)
    Dick Powell stars as a desk clerk who agrees to be a gentlemanly escort for the sheltered daughter (Gloria Stuart) of a wealthy widow. Considered a sequel of sorts to Gold Diggers of 1933, this film contains some of Berkeley’s most unusual and accomplished musical sequences ever -- “The Words Are in my Heart” featuring rows of twirling baby grand pianos and, what is likely Berkeley’s greatest masterpiece, literally a 16 minute film-within-a film, the unforgettable LULLABY OF BROADWAY, which features vocals by Powell and Wini Shaw, and is highlighted by a heart-stopping sequence of more than 150 dancers tapping their way into musical legend.

    DVD Special Features:
    •New Featurette (buz’be bur’kle) n. A Study in Style
    •Vintage Featurette:
    oDouble Exposure
    •2 Vintage Cartoons:
    oGold Diggers of ’49
    oShuffle Off to Buffalo
    •Direct from Hollywood Radio promo
    •Gold Diggers Trailer Gallery
    •Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature Film Only)

    The Busby Berkeley Disc
    One man. One camera. Unlimited magic. This critically-acclaimed compilation, originally conceived as a laserdisc release in 1992, now arrives on DVD as an exclusive to the set. It contains more than 20 complete musical numbers from nine Warner Bros. films of the 1930s -- numbers that established forever the genius of Busby Berkeley, and showed that ‘simple’ was not a word in his lexicon. Some of the rarities included here are “The Lady in Red” from IN CALIENTE (1935), and “All is Fair in Love and War,” the amazing flag-waving finale from GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937.


    Busby Berkeley Collection
    Street Date: March 21, 2006
    $59.92 SRP (Collection)


    Gold Diggers of 1933 (New to DVD!)
    Rating: NR
    B & W
    English: Mono
    Run Time: 98 minutes Footlight Parade (New to DVD!)
    Rating: NR
    B & W
    English: Mono
    Run Time: 104 minutes
    42nd Street (repackaged in Amaray)
    Rating: NR
    B & W
    English: Mono
    Run Time: 89 minutesDames (New to DVD!)
    Rating: NR
    B & W, Standard
    English Mono
    Run Time: 109 minutes
    Gold Diggers of 1935 (New to DVD!)
    Rating: NR
    B & W, Standard
    English Mono
    Run Time: 96 minutes

    The Busby Berkeley Disc (New to DVD!)
    Rating: NR
    B & W, Standard
    English Mono
    Run Time: 163 minutes
     
  2. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Can anyone comment on this set? I'm leaning towards blind buying it, but I was a little dissapointed in last years "Broadway To Hollywood". While I loved both "easter Parade" and especially "The Band Wagon", Brigadoon and "Bell Are Ringing" left me kind of flat.

    Of course, I leaning to blind buying the new "Dream Factory" set as well... so any comments on it would be nice as well.:b
     
  3. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter

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    Well, it's all a matter of taste of course, and Busby Berkeley isn't for all tastes because his choreography is all about drill-team regimentation at the expense of the individual artist on screen. But these are all prime Berkeley titles and the pre-code ones, especially, are just as much fun today as they were seventy years ago. The weakest title in the bunch, Gold Diggers of 1935, also contains what is undoubtedly Berkeley's finest number, The Lullaby of Broadway.

    I would blind buy without hesitation, but if you have doubts, rent the already available 42nd Street. Since to a certain extent, his movies are rather similar in tone, though some are more dramatic than others, if you like 42nd Street, you'll like them all. If you hate 42nd Street...
     
  4. Richard Matich

    Richard Matich Stunt Coordinator

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    I second what Rob says above. If you like 42nd Street then this set is for you I would think. I love the work of the great master Berkley so this set is a no brainer for me. [​IMG] I can't wait to see the "We're in the money" number. Its one of my favorites of all time! [​IMG] I think Warners is very proud of this set and rightfully so. I see Best Studio for '06 on the horizen if this kind of thing keeps up. [​IMG]
     
  5. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    I watched Dames last Christmas for the first time in years. I had never thought of these films as pre-codes, but of course they more than qualify as prime examples.

    In regard to Dames, the "stage actors who run up against a disapproving decency group" plot line could almost have been ripped from the headlines.

    Plus this set gives you plenty of Joan Blondell, who really lights up the screen.
     
  6. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Well, when I first heard about this I was only planning to pick up GOLD DIGGERS. Now I see that it will be available only as part of the box....but I'm easily swayed so now I have a legitimate excuse to get the whole box.

    One question though.....one of the major bits I was looking forward to was the inclusion of the surviving material from GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY, which was supposed to be included on the GOLD DIGGERS disc. Am I missing it? Has it been dropped? Or will it be incorporated into one of the featurettes?
     
  7. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    GD of 1933 gives us a Warren William (King of the Pre-Codes) film on DVD which alone makes it worthwhile in my opinion. [​IMG]

    Looking forward to this set.

    Steve
     
  8. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

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    Regardless if you like the Berkeley musicals, I suggest everyone should view the amazing "Lullaby Of Broadway" number in "Gold Diggers of 1935".

    It's like a work of conceptional art.

    The female star of the number, Winifred Shaw, is absolutely terrific. Strange, she never had an opportunity to do anything as good as this again.

    Also, "Shanghai Lil" from "Footlight Parade" shows James Cagney at his musical best. He sings and dances and is damn good.

    Although I really like all of these musicals, some will find them otherwise silly indeed!

    Also, the high number of rare B/W WB cartoons included in the set makes this set doubly worthwhile.

    I preordered my copy.
     
  9. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I pre-ordered this. It should be alot of fun, especially with the binus disc of hi-lites.
     
  10. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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  11. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow! On the "Dames" DVD, one of the vintage shorts is (I think) the only short made by the legendary DON REDMAN and His Orchestra. If you don't know Redman, he was perhaps the most important name in the origins of big band jazz. As saxophonist, arranger and composer for Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra in the 1920's (before Henderson got into arranging) and later joining McKinney's Cotton Pickers as leader, saxophonist, composer and arranger, he basically was among the first people to combine reeds into a harmony group, as well as horns into their own group, creating the kind of call-and-response style that influenced everyone.

    He was the first to record Hoagy Carmichael's "Star Dust" after the initial obscure recording made by Carmichael himself in 1927.

    Anyhow, by the early 1930's Redman had assembled an amazing band who recorded for Brunswick and this short shows his band in all their glory.

    Highlights are vocals by Harlan Lattimore, then known as "The Colored Bing Crosby" doing (what I think) is the best version of Harold Arlen's "Ill Wind".

    I've had this short on VHS and wow - what a pleasant surprise to have it on DVD.

    IMHO, it's worth the price of the entire excellent DVD set!
     
  12. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    It looks like the actual "Very Highly Recommended" review of this set is archived away and can't be revived, so I thought I would revive this one to let anyone who hasn't picked it up yet know that the set is now on sale for $28 at Amazon. VOLUME 2 and the Mickey Rooney set as well.

    I just watched DAMES last night, after picking it up for $3 at Big Lots. I was completely blown away. The last two numbers are some of the most amazing I have seen on film.

    I've never been all that much of a Busby Berkely fan, having seen only bits and pieces over the years. But watching that film, I became a fan immediately. I ordered both sets right away.

    And fantastic extras on the DAMES set. Glad to read all the great reviews. Wished I had paid more attention 2 years ago when they were released.
     
  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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