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Turner Classic Movies' Greatest Classic Films Collection: Busby Berkeley collects four movies on two double-sided discs, with the bonus features that appeared on the single-disc versions of the movies. This set celebrates the work of one of the most visually inventive director-choreographers in the history of film. The centerpiece is of course 42nd Street (1933). This is the quintessential backstage musical in which young Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) goes from wide-eyed chorus girl to leading lady, urged by Warner Baxter, "You're going out there a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!" A cast that also includes Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers (when she was an RKO contract player and before she teamed up with Fred Astaire) performs "Shuffle Off to Buffalo, " "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," and the title tune, in which Keeler tap-dances on a black surface that turns out to be the roof of a car. Berkeley's numbers are known for their kaleidoscopic patterns, their stark black-and-white contrast, and their sheer sense of spectacle. But more than anything, they're known for their celebration of women. By the dozens, they dance, play pianos, frolic in waterfalls, and, in some of the most overtly sexual numbers, stand spread-eagled in a line as the camera passes through their legs. In many ways, the title song from Dames sums it up best: "What do you go for / to see a show for? / Tell the truth, you go to see those beautiful dames." While Berkeley choreographed and directed the musical sequences in these films, the plot sections were generally directed by others such as Lloyd Bacon. Keeler and Powell were the most frequent headliners, supported by character players such as Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee, and Ned Sparks, and most of the songs were contributed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. The stories aren't much, usually revolving around the putting-together of a musical show as well as the lives and loves of chorus girls. The term "gold diggers," which is the source of the title of another of the films included in this set, refers unflatteringly to chorus girls in search of wealthy husbands. Gold Diggers of 1937 features Powell singing "With Plenty of Money and You" to Blondell and a big set-piece of "All's Fair in Love and war." Dames (1934) has the aforementioned title tune as well as "I Only Have Eyes for You" (with Powell singing to dozens of Keeler faces). Footlight Parade changes things up a bit by starring James Cagney as a producer desperately cranking out musical numbers. Keeler and Powell emerge from their bit-character roles to headline two of the big productions stacked together at the end, while Cagney replaces Powell in the third, showing off the vaudeville hoofing skills he would use later in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy. DVD supplements include new and old featurettes and vintage cartoons and shorts.

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WA114645 TCM Greatest Classic Film DVD Collection: Busby Berkeley (Dames / Gold Diggers of 1937 / Footlight Parade / 42nd Street) $19.98 $17.99