Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof–Docu of Legendary Choreographer

With the studios’ big budgets and technical facilities at his command, and his own inventive genius, dance director (and later filmmaker) Busby Berkeley overwhelmed Depression-era audiences with his larger-than-life lavish and escapist entertainment that had long-lasting effects on the musical genre.

“Going Through the Roof,” the new one-hour documentary, provides only a glimpse at Berkeley’s life and career, focusing on his gaudy and erotic vision as reflected in such popular movies as 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and The Gang’s All Here, in which Carmen Miranda was surrounded with huge, phallic-like bananas.

Among the more astute commentators are Vilage Voice critic J. Hoberman, who talks about Berkeley’s pre-MTV style, historian Richard Barrios, who places his career in historical perspective, and Esther Williams who worked with him on “Million Dollar Mermaid.”

A more comprehensive film about this inimitably creative man, who loved and cherished women onscreen and off, still waits to be made.