Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley

By Jeffrey Spivak | Go to book overview

16
Remember My Forgotten Director

Buzz’s 1963 Director’s Guild dues form showed earnings of $16,000 (Jumbo money and little else). As before, Buzz couldn’t venture a guess to the coming year’s financial potential, so he left the “future earnings” field blank.

In March, Buzz took another job at MGM. He was again credited as the second unit director, but this time the title was more appropriate than it was in Jumbo. He was assigned the stunt work for the tentatively titled “Moonwatch.” Buzz directed helicopters and navy craft and supervised a colossal automobile wreck on a California freeway. “I had the time of my life cracking up 12 cars,” he said. His work was appreciated, but by the time the renamed A Ticklish Affair was released, Buzz’s contribution went without credit.

Around this time there was talk of a lavish stage musical in the works based on George du Maurier’s novel Tr ilby. The story, featuring the irresistible character Svengali the hypnotist, revolves around the tone-deaf Trilby O’Ferrall. In her sessions with Svengali, she’s made into a grand diva. When the hypnotist falls ill, Trilby loses her talent and caterwauls her way through an important performance. Buzz was approached to stage the whole thing, and of his plans he boasted, “I’m going to combine stage and film technique with some wild things that have never been seen before.” Screen actor Paul Henreid was signed as Svengali, but he never played the role. One can’t help but wonder about the “wild” combination of techniques Buzz devised for the ultimately aborted project. Expressionistic lighting, chorus girls, mirrors, dancing, and unique celluloid effects might have revived Buzz’s career. Now in his late sixties, he was not idle by choice. Although it appeared he would take any project that crossed his desk (no matter how dubious the prospects), he remained optimistic, answering personal and fan letters,

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Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Screen Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Prologue 1
  • 1 - Actress and Son 4
  • 2 - In Formation 20
  • 3 - The Show Fixer 27
  • 4 - A Cyclopean Vision 48
  • 5 - The Cinematerpsichorean 66
  • 6 - The Cancerous Tire 123
  • 7 - Post-Traumatic Inspiration 143
  • 8 - Buzz’s Babes 164
  • 9 - Art and Audacity 198
  • 10 - The Stage Debacle 211
  • 11 - Inconsolable 218
  • 12 - One Last at Bat 225
  • 13 - Jumping, Tapping, Diving 235
  • 14 - Out of Sight 257
  • 15 - The Ringmaster 262
  • 16 - Remember My Forgotten Director 266
  • 17 - The Figurehead 272
  • 18 - The Palmy Days 292
  • Epilogue 296
  • On Busby Berkeley’s Memoirs 300
  • Appendix- The Works of Busby Berkeley 303
  • Notes 327
  • Index 353
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