The greatest kaleidoscopic experience without the benefit of hallucinogens, the terrific six-disc Busby Berkeley Collection (Warner; Movies ••••½, Picture/Sound ••••½, Extras ••••) has five of the choreography genius's best-known works: Gold Diggers of 1933, Footlight Parade (1933), Dames (1934), Gold Diggers of 1935, and 42nd Street (1933). They all look smashing in black-and-white pictures so rich and luminescent that the famed deco imagery resembles monochrome stained glass.
The sharp compositions are devoid of glitches and scratches, revealing their true age only during grainy optical effects. The 70-year-old sound is no less amazing, with a bass resonance so good that setting your processor on "Hall" mode creates an impressive theater-like ambience for these classics. Extras include scads of exclusive mini-documentaries, vintage shorts, and radio shows. But the highlights are Tex Avery's very politically incorrect animated Gold Diggers of '49 (a jazzy Don Redman jam) and the bizarre Seasoned Greetings, in which Charlie Chaplin's ex, Lita Grey, swings it with tyke Sammy Davis, Jr. And then there's the astounding Good Morning, Eve - two reels of Technicolor insanity aptly demonstrating Berkeley's importance by his absence, leaving us with some of the clunkiest choreog-raphy ever photographed. A knockout bonus disc contains 21 full-length "Buzz" numbers from his Warner years.
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