The following films were directed by Busby Berkeley, or contain dances directed by him. Five of them were produced in 1933, one of his best years. (Many of these can be found at video stores well stocked with classic films.) Filmography adapted from THE BUSBY BERKELEY BOOK.
WHOOPEE! (1930) -
Dances staged by Busby Berkeley. Source of the overhead shot of dancing Indian maidens, which became one of his trademarks.
PALMY DAYS (1931) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley, including "top-shots" of the Goldwyn Girls.
FLYING HIGH (1931) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley. This Hollywood version of a Broadway hit marked Bert Lahr's film debut.
NIGHT WORLD (1932) -
Dances staged by Busby Berkeley. A short film that quickly passed into limbo, it featured Lew Ayres, Boris Karloff, Hedda Hopper, and George Raft.
BIRD OF PARADISE (1932) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley in this exotic South Seas spectacle, one of the most expensive films of its time, which starred Dolores Del Rio and Joel McCrea.
THE KID FROM SPAIN (1932) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley; Eddie Cantor is mistaken for a matador, and the Goldwyn Girls form a human tortilla. Has Cantor in blackface, Paulette Goddard, Lucille Ball, and Betty Grable in the chorus.
42ND STREET (1933) -
Dances staged and directed by Busby Berkeley. "The backstage musical par excellence," according to Tony Thomas, and the first of a run of pictures which practically had a stock company consisting of Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, Ruby Keeler, and Ginger Rogers.
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 -
Numbers staged and directed by Busby Berkeley. Another Harry Warren/Al Dubin score, and a cast including Ginger Rogers, Joan Blondell, Keeler, Powell, Kibbee, and Warren William. Contains some of Berkeley's most astonishing optical effects, including neon violins and swirling wired skirts. "Remember My Forgotten Man" is brilliant, moving social commentary, especially given the froth of what surrounds it.
SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley (his first directorial excursion) with George Amy, and starring the 20-year-old Loretta Young.
FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933) -
Dances choreographed and staged by Busby Berkeley. Twice the length of SHE HAD TO SAY YES, with a third of its 104 minutes filled by musical numbers. Another collaboration with Lloyd Bacon, who also directed 42ND STREET, this stellar backstage musical features James Cagney, Blondell, Keeler, Powell, Kibbee et al, as well as bevies of beauties in pools, fountains, and waterfalls. A masterwork.
ROMAN SCANDALS (1933) -
Numbers staged and directed by Busby Berkeley. A Goldwyn film starring Eddie Cantor, set in imperial Rome, with totally nude showgirls (including Lucille Ball) shielded only by strategically draped long golden hair.
WONDER BAR (1934) -
Numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. A huge octagon of mirrors projects girls into infinity (he worked out these shots with the aid of ladies' compacts). Features Del Rio, Powell, Al Jolson, Kay Franis, Ricardo Cortex, Guy Kibbee, and the tango.
FASHIONS OF 1934 -
Numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. Ostrich plumes, harps, fan-dancers, a boat with feather oars.
DAMES (1934) -
Numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. A sort of a GOLD DIGGERS OF 1934, with the same plot and much the same cast. Includes a remarkable number in water, a fleet of bathtubs, and the legendary huge jigsaw puzzle of Ruby Keeler's face.
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 -
Directed by Busby Berkeley, who also created and staged dances. Silly fun, set at a swanky New England resort; stars Gloria Stuart, of latter-day TITANIC fame, in the ingenue role, and features 56 showgirls at 56 white baby grand pianos performing, in Busby Berkeley's words, "a kind of military drill in waltz time" to a song by Harry Warren. Also, the irresistible "Lullaby of Broadway," featuring 100 dancers.
BRIGHT LIGHTS (1935) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Starring Joe E. Brown.
IN CALIENTE (1935) -
Musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley. Del Rio, Pat O'Brien, Edward Everett Horton.
I LIVE FOR LOVE (1935) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Another Del Rio vehicle.
STARS OVER BROADWAY (1935) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley. Another backstage musical.
STAGE STRUCK (1936) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Stars Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, who were married just before this backstage musical came out. Short on production numbers.
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 -
Numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. More backstage hijinks, and a finale that pulls out the stops on Busby Berkeley's propensity for the military drill, starring 70 girls with drums and flags and pert little helmets. Also 50 white rockers, each big enough for two.
THE GO-GETTER (1937) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. This B-picture, a romantic comedy with George Brent and Anita Louise, has only one song.
THE SINGING MARINE (1937) -
With two sequences directed by Busby Berkeley. Dick Powell again.
VARSITY SHOW (1937) -
Finale created and staged by Busby Berkeley. The longest Warner musical at two hours, it featured Dick Powell and saluted American's leading colleges and universities.
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL (1937) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A Christmas movie based on a popular radio show, featuring Louella Parsons as herself and the song "Hooray for Hollywood."
MEN ARE SUCH FOOLS (1938) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley, this is one of the six films Humphrey Bogart made that year.
GOLD DIGGERS IN PARIS (1938) -
Numbers staged and directed by Busby Berkeley. Rudy Vallee impersonating Maurice Chevalier and FDR. Slashed budgets reduced the spectacle: the end of an era was approaching.
GARDEN OF THE MOON (1938) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. His last musical for Warner Bros.
COMET OVER BROADWAY (1938) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A sentimental melodrama starring Kay Francis.
THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL (1939) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A harrowing drama starring John Garfield. One of Busby Berkeley's personal favorites.
BROADWAY SERENADE (1939) -
Finale created and directed by Busby Berkeley, who was brought in after most of this Jeannette MacDonald vehicle was completed.
BABES IN ARMS (1939) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. The first of a string of Mickey Rooney/ Judy Garland pictures, and the dawn of a new kind of musical, this time from MGM. Adapted from a Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hart.
FAST AND FURIOUS (1939) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley at a breakneck pace. With Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern.
FORTY LITTLE MOTHERS (1940) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A sentimental Eddie Cantor vehicle.
STRIKE UP THE BAND (1940) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A fetching Rooney/Garland film, in which an orchestra of fruit comes to life and the power of art to weld a community together is celebrated. The ultimate arts-in-education musical.
BLOND INSPIRATION (1941) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley, who saved it from mediocrity with swift handling.
ZIEGFELD GIRL (1941) -
Musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. An enormous backstage musical with tons of expensive talent including James Stewart, Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, Lana Turner, Tony Martin, Jackie Cooper, and Eve Arden.
LADY BE GOOD (1941) -
Musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley. About songwriting; "The Last Time I Saw Paris" won the Oscar for Best Song that year.
BABES ON BROADWAY (1941) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Rooney and Garland again, Carmen Miranda, and a minstrel finale.
BORN TO SING (1942) -
This movie's finale, "The Ballad for Americans," was directed and created by Berkeley.
FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. A vaudeville movie that turns into a moving war story, with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly.
GIRL CRAZY (1943) -
Musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley. A bright and funny film about a rich young playboy exiled to a western men's college. A hundred dancers in the rodeo finale.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley. Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, and lavish effects featuring fruit. Some of Busby Berkeley's most imaginative work.
CINDERELLA JONES (1946) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley and held for two years before release. Featuring Joan Leslie and Robert Alda.
TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME (1949) -
Directed by Busby Berkeley, with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Esther Williams plays the owner of a baseball team in this film set in the pre-WWI era.
TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950) -
Musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. A period musical with Jane Powell. The soundtrack album went gold.
CALL ME MISTER (1951) -
Dances directed by Busby Berkeley. Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, and Danny Thomas.
TWO TICKETS TO BROADWAY (1951) -
Musical numbers created and staged by Busby Berkeley "before the script had been completed: always a bad sign," according to Tony Thomas. Starred Janet Leigh and Tony Martin.
MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952) -
Two sequences directed by Busby Berkeley, featuring Esther Williams, Victor Mature, and Maria Tallchief as Anna Pavlova.
SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953) -
Musical numbers, all eight of them, staged by Busby Berkeley. Features Jane Powell and Ann Miller. Musicians played through holes in the floor.
EASY TO LOVE (1953) -
Musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. Another Esther Williams vehicle, shot in Cypress Gardens, Florida. The finale has Williams and 80 boy and girl water-skiers carrying big flags, a hundred girls in a pool shaped like Florida, and shots from helicopters, with Williams on a trapeze hanging from a plane. Critics called this Busby Berkeley's "crowning achievement."
ROSE MARIE (1954) -
Musical numbers staged by Busby Berkeley. The first musical made in Cinemascope, filmed in color in the Rockies and the Sierras. Featured Joan Taylor and a hundred Indian braves.
JUMBO (1962) -
Second Unit Directed by Busby Berkeley. A circus fantasy for Doris Day and Jimmy Durante. Busby Berkeley Intro | Behind the Scenes | Meet the Artists | A Look at the Work | Resources