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Have always loved Busby Berkeley. Watching Footlight Parade and 42nd Street today was a real treat and a great way to pass a rainy afternoon. Found this interesting article that I thought I'd share: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/23/busby-berkeley-dance-42nd-street-choreography-film-musicals

And this web site http://pre-code.com/pre-code-follies-footlight-parade-1933/

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dfishgrl thanks for these links!  It's interesting to read more analysis of these films. 

I read somewhere about someone who watched a 3-hour compilation of Berkeley's numbers and remarked how similar and tedious they became.  I can believe it.  It's almost like trying to do theme and variations with the Borg. 

On a related "note",  I remember seeing the June Taylor dancers on the Jackie Gleason show (a variety show) way back when...   they'd do a Rockettes-type routine but usually incorporate an overhead shot, like this:  June Taylor Dancers on Ed Sullivan.  This clip has 2 routines, and Holy Hula Hoop, Batman, don't miss the second one.  And I'm throwing in this other related clip, too classic.  

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Shep Houghton danced for a number of directors including Busby Berkeley during Hollywood's golden years. Concisely, and accurately, he described Berkeley's method from a dancer's perspective:

“He was really a better cameraman than he was a choreographer, he was always way up in the ceiling; a lot of boom shots [on the camera crane]. I never saw him dance. When we worked for Berkeley, we did more formations.” 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0813126436?ie=UTF8&at=&force-full-site=1&ref_=aw_bottom_links

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One thing I really like about Busby Berkeley's extravaganzas is that the camera moved as well as the dancers.  This must have been fairly difficult in the early 30's, as the camera was pretty static at that time.  But look at the way the camera moves (or appears to move) as dancers dance on a revolving set.  There is a lot of graceful motion here.  He retained the dancing camera technique in his later, maybe less-extravagant films, For Me and My Gal and Girl Crazy.  I love the way he embraces motion from the camera as well as the dancers.

 

 

 

 

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I, too, love Busby Berkeley and enjoyed reading the comments... but while people generally remember him for his long and overhead shots, his innovative style included a mixture of closeups that would show the dancers' pretty faces and dazzling costumes, not to mention their legs and figures.  As Flo Ziegfeld could tell you, appealing to the audience was as much about showing off the gorgeous girls as it was displaying their talent.   And Pastiche... thanks for mentioning the June Taylor Dancers.  I vaguely recall those overhead shots, and will have to watch the video.  (Wasn't that Jackie Gleason show recorded in Miami Beach back in the 60's?  He did a weekly Joe the Bartender skit, didn't he?)     

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