This Month in Cinema and Music History: November 29, 1895 – Choreographer Busby Berkley Born

Without Busby Berkley, the world of video in music would be entirely different from how we know it today. As the sound era began, the cameras to record the revolution were huge and bulky behemoths. The actors could not wander very far, lest they wander out of frame. Hardly, the tools with which to document anything more than a The 1930s would become the decade of the musical. At the front of that revolution was Warner Brothers, the purveyors of the rough and tough gangster genre. Warner would find its leader as well in the choreographer, Busby Berkeley, born this month, November 29, 1895.


In the early 1930s, Hollywood was awash with talent, in about any language you may desire. Warner Brothers Studio, in particular, was built with a focused format in mind, from the look of its architecture to its people. Only Warner approved talent, with The  Warner Look” could appear in Warner films.  They didn’t have to be pretty,  they just had to be “Warner Brothers” pretty.

And it worked. As distinct of a difference comedy, gangster films, horror films had, they were in the end, as was the case with MGM,  they were still brands.


One view of the Berkeley filmed sequences in such films as 42nd St, The Gold Digges of 1933, Footlight Parade, you feel the voice of an artist. Berkley’s dance sequences were less about dancing than collective shapes, and their movement. The poetry was not in the minutiae of the sequences but the sequences themselves.

The dances were the art of the masses.

Busby Berkeley, one of cinema’s greatest choregraphers didn’t start out that way. His first passion was directing. Wikipedia –

Berkeley’s popularity with an entertainment-hungry Great Depression audience was secured when he choreographed four musicals back-to-back for Warner Bros.: 42nd StreetFootlight Parade, the aforementioned Gold Diggers of 1933Dames, and Fashions of 1934, as well as In Caliente and WonderBar with Dolores del Río. Berkeley always denied any deep significance to his work, arguing that his main professional goals were to constantly top himself and to never repeat his past accomplishments.”

Berkley would never overcome his successes as a choreographer.