a07002

What was Busby Berkley thinking?

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I just watched “Gold Diggers of 1933” and again marveled at the *Lullaby of Broadway* number (which inspired me to take up tap dancing when I was a kid). I completely forgot how this number ended – at the height of a wild Art Deco party *the lovely Wini Shaw is pushed off a balcony to her death*. It ends with her disembodied head singing the last chorus as she floats away, presumably towards New Jersey.

 

What could possibly have inspired Busby Berkeley to end a number like this? Thanks to him, New Jersey has a floating, singing head to contend with. What was up with him?

 

Edited by: a07002 on Jan 3, 2012 10:17 PM

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Busby Berkley had many issues. Alcoholism was one and he had a mean sadistic streak. Gifted as he was in creating optical art in the dances he choreographed he was like a slave driver to his dancers. The weird themes in many of his creations including "eroticism" proved where his mind was at then. Even as late as 1974 when he worked on No No Nanette revival I heard dancers from the show say he was a nice old man but a little bit of a nut job.

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I knew him, briefly, when I did the national tour of NANETTE. He was completely likable, but he did very little of the actual work on the show. Mostly there to oversee what was happening. He was the furthest thing from mean.

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I agree, the Lullaby of Broadway is an odd number for that ending.

 

One of my favorite BB numbers is in PALMY DAYS, "Bend Down Sister (if you want to be thin)" When you see the first girl bend over and showcase her cleavage, you knew EXACTLY what Berkeley was thinking!

 

When we screen BB musicals the most often heard comment is, "What was he smoking?"

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that's a dreamlike sequence from "golddiggers of 1935" and i think its about a bar-hopping party girl who sleeps all day and drinks all night and meets the kind of end those girls were expected to meet in 1935.

 

buzz had to kill her off after all that riotous living. or show her meeting some other undesirable end. single motherhood probably wouldnt have flown.

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On 1/3/2012 at 9:16 PM, a07002 said:

I just watched “Gold Diggers of 1933” and again marveled at the *Lullaby of Broadway* number (which inspired me to take up tap dancing when I was a kid). I completely forgot how this number ended – at the height of a wild Art Deco party *the lovely Wini Shaw is pushed off a balcony to her death*. It ends with her disembodied head singing the last chorus as she floats away, presumably towards New Jersey.

 

What could possibly have inspired Busby Berkeley to end a number like this? Thanks to him, New Jersey has a floating, singing head to contend with. What was up with him?

 

Edited by: a07002 on Jan 3, 2012 10:17 PM

That was in Gold Diggers of 1935 and it actually ends with her cat locked out of her apartment and every one else in the city going on with their daily lives, indifferent to another death. Though yes, I agree that it was pretty moving. Berkely's numbers are usually moving. I like "Remember My Forgotten Man" too for its sympathetic portrayal of those who got injured and died in a war no one wanted.

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