WHV Press Release: The Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, May 19, 2008.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Glamour, Good Times, Gold Diggers...

    …And the Gentleman Behind Them All!

    The Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2 Debuts September 16

    Gold Diggers of 1937 ~ Gold Diggers in Paris
    Hollywood Hotel ~ Varsity Show

    Four Fully Restored Films are New to DVD

    Burbank, Calif. May 19, 2008 – The “Buzz” continues when word gets around that Warner Home Video will debut more musical extravaganzas in the Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2 on September 16. The collection features four more Berkeley classics which are not only new-to-DVD titles, but are making their long-awaited home video debut. Included in the collection are Gold Diggers of 1937, Gold Diggers in Paris, Hollywood Hotel and Varsity Show. Following in the dancing footsteps of Warner’s successful 2006 collection, this second spectacular volume from one of the greatest motion picture choreographers of all time also includes musical shorts, featurettes and classic cartoons. It’s musical entertainment magic at its toe-tapping, finger-snapping best by the Oscar® nominated master.

    The 4-disc giftset will sell for $39.92 SRP and the single titles will be available for $19.97 SRP.

    Busby Berkeley


    William Berkeley Enos was born in Los Angeles on November 29, 1895. He began his career in the U.S. Army conducting and directing parades and then staging 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 in 1925 when he was forced to take the reins of the Broadway 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., gave “Buzz” his first huge film break -- directing the musical numbers of Warner’s then newest 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 known as 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 Films

    Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936)
    Dick Powell plays an insurance agent with musical ambitions while Joan Blondell is a showgirl who gives up spangles for a stenographer’s pad. But the plot is secondary as dance creator Busby Berkeley turns a garden party into a tap-happy romp, and Blondell leads leggy soldiers in a banner-waving, precision-formation rendition of “All’s Fair in Love and War” that’s Berkeley spectacle at its showy best. Berkeley received an Academy nod for Best Dance Direction.

    DVD Special Features
    · 1997 documentary Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof
    · Technicolor historical short The Romance of Louisiana
    · Classic cartoons Plenty of Money and You and Speaking of the Weather
    · Two excerpts from 1929’s Gold Diggers of Broadway
    · Theatrical trailer

    Gold Diggers in Paris (1938)
    The Gold Diggers are headed for Paris, bringing their feathers, frills, and ballet shoes. A French diplomat has mistaken 43rd Street’s Club Ballé for the American Academy Ballet, and the chorus cuties aren’t going to turn down a free trip to the City of Light over such a tiny misunderstanding. Rudy Vallee stars as the club’s impresario and Busby Berkeley creates and directs the inventive musical numbers, both ‘magnifique’ and loaded with moxie.

    DVD Special Features:
    · Two Broadway Brevities musical shorts: The Candid Kid and Little Me
    · Classic cartoon Love and Curses
    · Theatrical trailer

    Hollywood Hotel (1937)
    The plot about a Hollywood newcomer (Dick Powell) caught between a spoiled star (Lola Lane) and her likeable look-alike (Lola’s look-alike sister Rosemary Lane) is secondary to watching Busby Berkeley’s ace direction – and music, music, music. The film opens with the jubilant debut of Tinseltown’s unofficial anthem Hooray for Hollywood. The jaunty Let That Be a Lesson to You shows off Berkeley’s mastery of editing and camera angles. And Benny Goodman and his Orchestra -- with Harry James on trumpet and Gene Krupa on drums – swing, swing, swing into Sing, Sing, Sing.

    DVD Special Features:
    · TechnicolorÒ historical short The Romance of Robert Burns
    · Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy comedy short Double Talk
    · Classic cartoon Porky’s Five & Ten
    · Theatrical trailer

    Varsity Show (1937)
    Broadway impresario Chuck Daly (Dick Powell) leads an A+ cast of coeds and their guys, including film-debuting sisters Priscilla and Rosemary Lane and fluty-voiced comic character star Sterling Holloway, in this exuberant college musical. Oscar nominated for his dance direction in this film, Berkeley creates and directs a rah-rah, football-themed finale featuring high-style overhead shots, kinetic camerawork and hundreds of dancers on a 50 ft. by 60 ft. staircase.

    DVD Special Features
    · Musical short Flowers from the Sky
    · Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy comedy short A Neckin’ Party
    · Classic cartoon Have You Got Any Castles
    · Theatrical trailer

    Busby Berkeley Collection Volume 2
    Street Date: September 16, 2008
    $39.92 SRP (Collection); $19.97 SRP (Single Titles)
    All Films B&W and Not Rated

    Gold Diggers of 1937
    Run Time: 101 minutes

    Gold Diggers in Paris
    Run Time: 97 minutes

    Hollywood Hotel
    Run Time: 109 minutes

    Varsity Show
    Run Time: 80 minutes

    Each feature in the collection has been painstakingly restored from its original camera negative for this new DVD collection

    Currently available: The Busby Berkeley Collection

    Note: All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.
     
  2. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Fully restores? I don't think so.
    The Varsity Show running time says 80. That is the cut reissue version.
    The original, never on tv, is 120 min.
    We don't seem to be getting that here.
    Why not?
     
  3. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    I'm with you Joe.
    Warners, Please explain.

    When I first heard that "Varsity Show" was in the works, I prayed that the missing 40 minutes would be restored.
    There are a number of great Musical sequences in that missing footage, including the complete version of "Have You Got Any Castles".

    Surely if the scenes still exist, even as audio only, they could at least be offered as extras.

    I am bitterly disappointed by this (if that DVD running time is correct)

    Also does the material from the lost "Gold Diggers of Broadway" contain extra footage not available at the time of the Laserdisc release?

    Still, I'm grateful for this release of previously unavailable titles.
     
  4. Conrad_SSS

    Conrad_SSS Second Unit

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    Despite all the amazing things Warner has done for classic films on DVD, I find it astounding that anyone would think they wouldn't know about a situation like this and not do something about it.

    A friend of mine who works at a major archive in Europe told me that Warner had contacted them, trying to locate a 1937 print of VARSITY SHOW. They indicated that Jack Warner hacked 40 minutes out of the film prior to its 1942 reissue, and that all elements, even the studio nitrate print at UCLA was the shorter version. Apparently they were trying everwhere, and everything, including 16mm, to try and attempt to find the purged footage, but alas nothing has turned up anywhere.

    What Warner is releasing on DVD is the film as it has been for the last 66 years....but it seems they did undertake a worldwide search and did their best to try and find the whole thing.

    I wouldn't expect anything less from them. They are still tops in my book.

    So there you have your answer.
     
  5. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    Can't wait to add this to the collection? Will we ever see Wonder Bar, I wonder?
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Thanks for that information which is why people shouldn't jumped to conclusions before knowing all of the facts. It's easy to blame the folks that work at Warner today, but the real blame lies to prior generations of industry executives. However, to be fair, who would of thought that prior to the 1970s, home video would be an entertainment option.





    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    Cool, I completely forgot this was coming. I'll definately pick it up when released. Can't get enough Busby Berkeley!
     
  8. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Thanks for that really disappointing information Conrad.

    Original soundtrack snippets from a couple of the missing songs featured in "Varsity Show" can be heard on the very enjoyable WB Cartoon "Katnip College", which has been beautifully restored to it's original Technicolor splendor on the HD-DVD version of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (Hopefully the same version will be on the up-coming Blu-ray release of that title)
    The standard DVD features a non restored, washed out version of the cartoon.

    Most of that Cartoon is made up of soundtrack grabs from the Warner Bros feature films "Varsity Show" and "Over the Goal", which tragically has also had it's very best song cut from all TV prints.
    It seems that "Katnip College" is the only source of these lost musical numbers and sadly even then we only get fragments of the originals.


    I will most certainly be purchasing this new BB set. It should look fabulous.
     
  9. Drew Salzan

    Drew Salzan Second Unit

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    Yes, where is Wonder Bar? Maybe an Al Jolson collection is in the works. I know the Technicolor sequences to Mammy were discovered in Europe somewhere as well as the original camera negative to Go Into Your Dance.
     
  10. Charles Ellis

    Charles Ellis Screenwriter

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    Corey, the main problem with Wonder Bar is that God-awful Jolson number "Goin' To Heaven on a Mule": how Warners Bros. released it is beyond me, and that musical number makes Birth of a Nation look like a promo film from the NAACP!! Aside from that offensive number, the rest of Wonder Bar is interesting as a pre-Code curio. The only way that film will be released is if it came with a warning label, like CDs for heavy metal and rap acts.

    I wonder if they'll do a compilation on Berkeley's MGM material, like the classic "Gotta Hear That Beat" from Small Town Girl with Ann Miller- not only is it the best thing about the picture, it's the best number the vastly underrated Miss Miller ever had.
     
  11. Jefty

    Jefty Stunt Coordinator

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    yes this is very exciting!

    I think I'm the world's biggest fan of Gold Diggers of 1937--the opening insurance convention scene alone is worth the price of this boxed set!
     
  12. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    I'm most excited about "Hollywood Hotel," a delightful little classic which amazingly has never been released in the US in any format. Aside from the iconic "Hooray for Hollywood" it has the terrific Behind the Eightball number and rare glimpses of the Benny Goodman band at its peak with Gene Krupa, Harry James, etc. Plus it's an enjoyable comedy set in 1937 Hollywood with Louella Parsons in a small role and also featuring the Warners stock company (Glenda Farrell, Hugh Herbert, etc.) supporting Dick Powell and the Lane Sisters (for once playing a star and her look-alike stand-in.) And Katnip Kollege fans can see the over-the-top Mabel Todd playing Lola Lane's daffy sister. Great fun!
     
  13. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    I'm usually not turned off by how blacks are depicted in older films cause it was of those times, but that closing number in Wonder Bar was an absolutely disgusting. Nonetheless, I'd still like to own it on dvd along with Fashions of 1934 (mainly to see Bette Davis all done up as Garbo).
     
  14. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Not sure if this any indication on what Warner Brothers thoughts are for Wonder Bar, but the “Goin’ to Heaven on a Mule” was on the laserdisc version the Busby Berkley Disc and not on the DVD release. Other than that exception, the DVD and Laserdisc were the same.

    It is an appalling number and after watching it you are left with your mouth open. Other than that sequence I found Wonder Bar to be an entertaining film and as stated earlier a great example of pre-code. If the film is released, it would need to retain that number for historical sake. I hope that there will be an Al Jolson Collection and Wonder Bar is indeed included.

    As for the present, I cannot wait to get my hands on this Busby Berkley Collection. I agree that the gem in this collection is Hollywood Hotel, then I have never seen Gold Diggers in Paris.
     
  15. FranklinC

    FranklinC Stunt Coordinator

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    I hope it remains clear (to WB, anyway) that despite any personal apprehension to that particular number in Wonder Bar, the vast majority of HTFers want Wonder Bar released on DVD UNCENSORED, ASAP.

    Right?

    Look, obviously the sequence conflicts with present sensibilities, but do we need to contribute to the never ending chorus of those whose opinions (and constant complaining) about this stuff are similarly preventing, among other things, the release of Song of the South? I don't know...

    (That being said the sequence in question WAS really shocking to me when I first saw it -- it goes so far that it felt almost like a parody of itself. I must admit it struck me as unintentionally funny -- I laughed out loud at it! It's almost like I couldn't believe it actually existed.)
     
  16. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    It was a different eras with different sensibilities certainly, but given how active Jolson was for racial equality in real life and how egregious the stereotyping is in the number, it's clear that the number is meant to be a parody of the racial stereotypes of the day. And not just of African Americans. He gets in a Jewish one too while winking at the audience. But though the whole number is a poke at all the then-popular stereotypes, it's still terribly tasteless and indeed was in 1935. They will certainly have to proceed with caution on this one.
     
  17. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    Another must-buy set for me!

    Very lucky with musicals this year! [​IMG]
     
  18. CineKarine

    CineKarine Supporting Actor

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    The artwork is here
     
  19. Corey

    Corey Screenwriter

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    Like the artwork.
     
  20. KellyVO

    KellyVO Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm not the biggest Berkeley fan and I didn't buy the first set because all I wanted was Gold Diggers of 1933. I was hoping when this set came out that they would release the movies in Volume separately...I guess thats not the case. I guess I just might have to buy Volume 1 now.

    Glad to see Warner release some more classics though. It seems like its been forever since we had an announcement!
     

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