+612 9045 4394
Buzz : The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley - Jeffrey Spivak


The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

Hardcover Published: 13th December 2010
ISBN: 9780813126432
Number Of Pages: 408

Other Formats

Share This Book:


RRP $135.99
or 4 easy payments of $25.59 with Learn more
Ships in 7 to 10 business days

The Great Depression was defined by poverty and despair, but visionary American filmmaker Busby Berkeley (1895-1976) managed to divert the public's attention away from the economic crash with some of the most iconic movies of all time. Known for his kaleidoscopic dance numbers featuring multitudes of performers in extravagant costumes, his musicals provided a brief respite for an audience whose reality was hard and bitter. Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is a revealing study of the director, drawing from interviews with his colleagues, newspaper and legal records, and Berkeley's own unpublished memoirs to uncover the life of a Hollywood legend renowned for his talent and creativity.

Jeffrey Spivak examines how Berkeley's career evolved from creating musical numbers for other directors in films such as 42nd Street (1933) and Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) to directing his own pictures, such as Strike up the Band (1940) and The Gang's All Here (1943). Though Berkeley claimed he was no choreographer, his movies revitalized the public's waning interest in musical pictures. While other popular filmmakers advertised their works specifically as nonmusical, Berkeley embraced his niche, eventually becoming the premier dance director of his time.

However, the happy face Berkeley presented publicly did not necessarily reflect his life. Offstage and away from the set, the director met with scandal, and his fondness for liquor and women was well known. In September 1935, he was involved in a car accident that left three people dead and four others severely injured. Accused of driving under the influence, he was put on trial for second-degree murder. The accident significantly changed the nature of his stardom.

""Spivak shows a keen understanding of Berkeley's talents but does not ignore his flaws. His biography illuminates a fertile period in American film history."-- Library Journal" --

""Read this book cover to cover, the first attempt at a full-blown biography of the innovative choreographer and director whose kaleidoscopic musical numbers of the 1930s have never been equaled. Spivak has done his homework in terms of interviews and archival research--including a discovery of Berkeley's unpublished memoir."-- Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy" --

""Spivak's meticulous research magnifies the career and personal life of this beloved entertainer."--Turner Classic Movies" --

"Hufftington Post's "Best Film Books for 2010"" -- Thomas Gladysz

""The man behind cinema's most complex dance numbers was as complex as his work."-- Los Angeles Magazine" --

""At the time, movie musicals were stale and outdated, but with a touch of the Buzz magic, they came alive. Most credit Berkeley with saving and then recreating a whole new genre of the movie musical. The book is heavy into his technique and art, but pretty light when it comes to fleshing out the picture of just who Busby Berkeley was as a man. If you are a lover of musicals, this is the book for you."-- Chew & Digest Books" --

""This is an excellent book. The research is meticulous, the narrative crisp, and the evalution of Berkeley's life and work informative. Buzz fills a major gap in the history of both cinema and musical theater and is must reading, especially for those interested in either."--King Features Syndicate" --

""Spivak has the biographer's sine qua non: a sense of his subject's uniqueness on this Earth." -- Page Laws, dean of the Honors College, Norfolk State University" --

""A gifted storyteller and historian, Jeffrey Spivak paints a finely detailed portrait of dance director Busby Berkeley and his doting actress mother Gertrude. It is a lullaby of Broadway and Holylwood as improbable as any of Berkeley's fantastical musical numbers."--Miles Kreuger, President, The Institute of the American Musical, Inc." --

""Berkeley was a choreographer extraordinaire. Who else could handle 150 dancers in one number? I can't think of anyone, and Berkeley was doing this in the 1920s and 1930s."-- California Chronicle" --

""One could be excused for thinking that a book titled Buzz might be about Internet-based P.R. strategies for individuals or businesses, but it's actually a biography -- the only one out there -- of Busby Berkeley, the choreo-philosopher and one of the cinema's most original and distinctive creators."-- New Yorker" --

""[Berkeley] was destined for a life in show business. And that life, ... was as full of dazzling highs and lurid lows as any melodrama could be."-- Barnes and Noble Review" --

""Spivak's well-written biography of the Hollywood choreographer and director, famous for the complicated, kaleidoscopic dances he choreographed for such films as 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, has scholarly depth yet is gracefully accessible."-- Booklist" --

""Spivak describes the entrepreneur's extraordinary career and catalogs his over-the-top life and similarly baroque song-and-dance numbers which featured ornate geometric patterns and influenced much that came after."-- Moving Picture Archives News" --

""People today may remember Berkeley as the visionary behind those human geometric designs that beguiled Hollywood audiences during the 1930s and 40s, but Jeffrey Spivak's new biography Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley paints a deeper portrait of a true artistic innovator and an often troubled human being."-- Chicago Stage Style" --

""Looking for a gift for a movie lover? Consider Jeffrey Spivak's new book, Buzz."-- New York Post" --

"" Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley is a pick for film and biography holdings alike, covering the career and personal life of film director and choreography Busby Berkeley, whose films changed the nature of the musical film itself and saved Warner Bros. studio. Berkeley's own unpublished memoirs, personal letters, legal documents, and more [complimentary] interviews with those who worked with him for a wide-ranging survey to any serious film or biography library."-- The Midwest Book Review" --

""[Having] rescued [Berkeley's own memoirs] from a garbage clearance... Spivak recounts [Berkeley's] tales of relentless retakes, schedule-skimming night shoots, and crack-ups, whether emotional... or spinal."-- Sight & Sound" --

""[A] fascinating read."-- Playbill" --

""Busby Berkeley's name conjures up kaleidoscopic images of women's body parts: crane shots of synchronized movement, collaged into design and pattern by distance and directorial oversight. Jeffrey Spivak aims to promote Berkeley... to the role of directorial creativity and originality."-- Times Literary Supplement" --

""Jeffrey Spivak offers a detailed look into the life and career of one of American cinema's most influential dance directors"--Theater Mania" --

""Spivak's biography perfectly captures Buzz's spirit as well as the legend, all rolled into one. Spivak covers the man from his humble beginnings, cowering under his brother's wardrobe as he first makes an "appearance" on stage, through to his Broadway successes and failures, and on to the peaks and nadirs he experienced in Hollywood. An even-handed tribute all around." -- Broadway World" --

""Spivak... did an enormous amount of research for this biography. He even viewed the least notable of Berkeley's films and tracked unfinished projects." -- Choice" --

""Spivak's text is undoubtedly praiseworthy for utilizing resources...to produce this substantial work."--Cambridge Journals" --

""[Spivak] writes the direct and concise... prose that makes for easy reading."-- Quarterly Review of Film and Video" --

"Not only is Buzz the source material for [an] upcoming movie, but it's an invaluable resource on the ups and downs of Berkeley's life." -- Journeys In Classic Film

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
Actress and Sonp. 4
In Formationp. 20
The Show Fixerp. 27
A Cyclopean Visionp. 48
The Cinematerpsichoreanp. 66
The Cancerous Tirep. 123
Post-Traumatic Inspirationp. 143
Buzz's Babesp. 164
Art and Audacityp. 198
The Stage Debaclep. 211
Inconsolablep. 218
One Last at Batp. 225
Jumping, Tapping, Divingp. 235
Out of Sightp. 257
The Ringmasterp. 262
Remember My Forgotten Directorp. 266
The Figureheadp. 272
The Palmy Daysp. 292
Epiloguep. 296
On Busby Berkeley's Memoirsp. 300
Appendix: The Works of Busby Berkeleyp. 303
Notesp. 327
Indexp. 353
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780813126432
ISBN-10: 0813126436
Series: Screen Classics
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 408
Published: 13th December 2010
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6  x 3.05
Weight (kg): 0.82