Monday, July 6, 2009

Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!

I've got that toe tapping, song from the heart feeling today! In a time when our world is changing and sometimes the outlook is bleak I think back to the musicals of the 1930's,in particular, Busby Berkley movies. The 1930's were a very dark time for the US and the world in general. We had the depression, people were living in Hoovervilles, the stock market crashed (sound familiar?) and yet there was a ray of hope, an escape for a few hours and Busby Berkley was happy to provide it to us.

Berkley was one of the greatest choreographers in American history. His films were elaborate and over the top yet the common man at this time didn't mind. They loved seeing the struggle of good guy overcoming obstacles and still getting the girl, the job and the song. The majority of his movies had one grand musical finale that was "suppose" to be on a tiny stage and yet were so spectacular you really didn't mind that he fudge a little and was on a huge sound stage.

42nd street is probably one of the most well known of all of his films. A Broadway director wants to do one last show before his leaves the business due to health reasons. Unfortunately he has to borrow the money from a rich man who only has eyes for the lead of the play. At the last minute the lead breaks her ankle and the sweet understudy takes the over the part and saves the day. The last 20 minutes is worth the price of admission alone, don't miss it.

Footlight Parade showcases James Cagney's musical and comedic talents. Cagney plays a Broadway producer having to compete with the new era of talking film. He does this by putting on three plays on three different stages, each more lavish than the last all in one night.
You will see a lot of the same character actors, dancers and singers as seen in Berkley's other films.

Gold Diggers of 1933 was the beginning of the Gold Digger films for Berkley. Of all of the Gold Digger series none of them are sequels, but each stand alone as their own adventure. My favorite is Gold Diggers of 1933 which originally started as a play in 1919 and ran for over a year and a half. Once again, a Broadway play is about to go belly up and honest, hard working good guy saves the day. We also get to see a young Ginger Rogers play a glamorous "tramp"-ME-OW! The story, although may seem aged, transcends through each decade and is relevant in 1919 or 2oo9.

So put on your dancing shoes, shake off those blues and kick up your heels to the Busby Berkley sound. Who cares if you don't have a job and your 401K is in the tank, we still got eachother and a song in our heart.

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