Two directors and two films- Ray Enright and Busby Berkeley—only one (Berkeley) is the genius
The first half is nearly all Enright (I can tell this by the body of work of the two differing directors)—it is a fine little drama, the wipe edits and transitions are a nice touch (one tearing a picture) and give it a brisk and fun pace
The narrative is cat-nip to these depression-era audiences. The idol and idiot rich. The bit with the man-servant is great. He’s always giving a crazy look or sleeping in the background.
The brilliance of the film is all in the last half-hour when Berkeley and his famous dance sequences take over. They take it from a fine little Recommend to a Highly-Recommend/Must-See film
Like many of these films of the era (the Gold Diggers series, Footlight Parade too) it’s a backstage story and stars Dick Powell
Joan Bondell (what a name) as the buxom blonde with comedic chops
The laundry sequence is a stunner from Berkeley, another one is the second playing of “I Only Have Eyes For You” (the film does this song twice, the first time Powell singing it, the second time an elaborate number) and the title dance number. These three are all towards the end of the film and are breathtaking.
During “I Only Have Eyes For You” (which is a surrealism sequence) the heads of Powell’s love interest are cut out like FatHeads. Big rotating flights of stairs and set-pieces. Overhead choreographed dancing and innovating editing transitions
If that weren’t enough it’s not just a simple long shot— there’s a great reverse crane shot pulling away from the couple to reveal an empty train station. Wow.
The title number is probably the one that most inspired the opening of Spielberg’s The Temple of Doom. The camera dives under the legs of the girls, plenty of long shots showing off the set pieces and choreography, girls flying at the camera and an ingenious triple-take (pre Agnes Varda by about 30 years) editing with the girl getting closer with each ellipsis.