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Gang's All Here
     

The Gang's All Here

Director: Busby Berkeley

Cast: Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, James Ellison

 

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There's a lot that's great about Fox's DVD release of Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here (1943) -- the film-to-video transfer is superior to that of the old Fox laserdisc from two decades past (which was pretty good itself), though there are still moments of softness to the full-screen (1.33:1) image, and the loss of the

Overview

There's a lot that's great about Fox's DVD release of Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here (1943) -- the film-to-video transfer is superior to that of the old Fox laserdisc from two decades past (which was pretty good itself), though there are still moments of softness to the full-screen (1.33:1) image, and the loss of the original nitrate materials has left some of the color (especially the yellows) muted, in spite of the best digital restoration efforts. The featurette "Busby Berkeley: A Journey With a Star" is a fine account of the legendary choreographer's career up through this movie, which in many ways marked the culmination of his work as a filmmaker and choreographer. This short bio is very nicely done, and beautifully put together, keying every discussion to superb visuals from the film at hand, including deliberate deconstructions of the special-effects shots. And as an extra-special bonus, the makers have included an exceptionally funny scene from the last section of the movie involving Dave Willock, Phil Baker, Eugene Pallette, Charlotte Greenwood, Edward Everett Horton, and Carmen Miranda that also manages to spoof early 1940s radio quiz programs, and adds an extra twist (and final punch line) to two jokes from earlier in the picture. Not nearly as enjoyable as any of those features, however, is the rather disjointed and unfocused commentary track by Prof. Drew Casper. Conceding to Casper his knowledge of his field, his fault lies in his presentation -- he loves to belabor the same points ad nauseam, and, in doing analysis, spends a lot of his time delineating some very obvious aesthetic points at the expense of discussing some fascinating approaches to shooting. That is especially frustrating in the opening section of the film, which is the first of several of the most extraordinary conjuring tricks ever seen in a musical, and is hardly even broached in terms of how it was done. Unless one is enamored of Casper's voice, it's advisable to dwell on the movie and the documentaries, and skip the commentary. The scholars in the Berkeley documentary are far better focused and more useful in their observations about the movie, and either would have been preferable on the audio commentary track. The other major bonus feature consists of two installments of the Phil Harris radio show featuring Alice Faye. There's also a short film from later in her life, featuring a long-retired Faye, which was prepared to be used in tandem with her appearances on behalf of a pharmaceutical company; a still gallery; a before-and-after restoration comparison of the movie (which, at one point, hard deteriorated significantly in all extant source prints); and the original trailer from the film. All of these features are accessible through a multi-layered menu that opens automatically on start-up. The Gang's All Here is available separately and as part of The Alice Faye Collection with three other of the musical star's films.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
As with most musical comedies intended as morale boosters during World War II, The Gang's All Here has lots of "plot" of the romantic sort, but not much story. Director and choreographer Busby Berkeley, in his only Fox film and his first film in Technicolor, not only gets the camera moving in directions and from angles that seem impossible to emulate in real life, but twists the two-dimensional space of the screen and the three-dimensional space of the sets into new shapes. The camera sometimes seems to swing around through 360 degrees, presenting musical numbers on a stage that, at various moments, seems to stretch into infinity, and grow in several directions that wouldn't seem to leave room for any audience, yet somehow manage to. Coupled with Carmen Miranda's outsized personality and a lot of still-very-amusing comic bits by Edward Everett Horton, Charlotte Greenwood (who dances up a storm in one scene), comedian and radio personality Phil Baker, and Eugene Pallette (aided by some amazingly accurate studio recreations of New York streets, Grand Central Station, and the Staten Island Ferry), the film keeps us moving, laughing, and humming, and also tapping our feet to the beat of Benny Goodman's orchestra. Berkeley's use of special effects in the service of dance is extraordinary -- gravity seems to disappear at various points, strange, unearthly rings surround performers in mid-air, and nightclubs interiors suddenly lose their walls and ceilings and even their stages, which suddenly become bigger than any building that they could seemingly ever contain them. What makes it all even more amazing to modern viewers is that Berkeley did all of this for real -- on the soundstage, with cranes and lighting, shifting sets, invisible mountings, and using devices as simple as phosphorescent hula hoops -- with no CGI or post-production super-imposing, just a lot of guts, planning, and great editing (some of which anticipates what Alfred Hitchcock did on Rope with its seamless edits of extended takes), and all on a budget that wouldn't have paid for the costumes in a James Cameron epic. In the major number from the film's first half, "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat," amid the shifting spatial dimensions captured by the camera -- where a single prop tree suddenly multiplies to infinity, and fruit turn into xylophones -- Carmen Miranda sings while what look like hundreds of chorus girls sway back and forth in carefully choreographed patterns, carrying oversized bananas. This leads to an overhead Berkeley-style kaleidoscope shot of the chorus girls that's as dazzling as it is tasteless, and it ends up at a climactic shot of Miranda seemingly wearing a "hat" hundreds of times her size, made of nothing but fruit. Benny Goodman also sings a pair of numbers, and the odd thing he's not bad -- he's no Sinatra (not even Nancy Sinatra) or Perry Como, but he does okay. So forget the plot -- or take in the plot, if that's your choice (the jokes still work, and it's nice to remember that there were wars worth fighting and believing in) -- and sit back and enjoy this unique visual/dance/musical fantasy, which boasts some of the strangest arrays of images, color, and music this side of Disney's Fantasia.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/20/2007
UPC:
0024543403678
Original Release:
1943
Rating:
NR
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
1
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:43:00

Special Features

Commentary by film professor Drew Casper; "Busby Berkeley: A Journey With a Star" featurette; Alice Faye's last film: We Still Are!; The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show excerpts; Deleted scene: The "$64 Question"; Restoration comparison; Still gallery; Original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alice Faye Eadie Allen
Carmen Miranda Dorita
James Ellison Andy Mason
Charlotte Greenwood Mrs. Peyton Potter
Eugene Pallette Mr. Mason, Sr.
Edward Everett Horton Peyton Potter
Phil Baker Himself
Sheila Ryan Vivian
Dave Willock Sgt. Casey
Miriam Lavelle Specialty Dancer
Charles Saggau Jitterbug Dancer
George Dobbs Benson
Leon Belasco Waiter
Gabriel Canzoza Organ Grinder
Robb Wilton Bat-man
Lee Bennett Bit Man
Frank Darien Doorman
Frank Faylen Marine
Deidre Gale Jitterbug Dancer
Hallene Hill Old Lady
Leyland Hodgson Butler
Russell Hoyt Sailor
Al Murphy Stage Manager
Virginia Sale Secretary
Fred Walburn Newsboy
Virginia Wilson Dancing Partner
Lillian Yarbo Maid
Benny Goodman Orchestra Themselves
June Haver Maybelle
Jeanne Crain Bit Part
Tony De Marco Actor

Technical Credits
Busby Berkeley Director,Choreography
William Le Baron Producer
Ary Barroso Songwriter
James Basevi Production Designer
Tom Bridges Original Story
Walter Bullock Screenwriter
Edward J. Cronjager Cinematographer
Ray F. Curtiss Editor
Benny Goodman Songwriter
Roger Heman Sound/Sound Designer
Charles Henderson Musical Direction/Supervision
Ed Kelso Screenwriter
George Leverett Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Alfred Newman Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Guy Pearce Makeup
David Raksin Songwriter
Leo Robin Score Composer,Songwriter
George Root Original Story
S.K. Russell Songwriter
Fred Sersen Special Effects
Harry Warren Score Composer,Songwriter
Nancy Winter Original Story
Yvonne Wood Costumes/Costume Designer
Joseph C. Wright Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Gang's All Here
1. Main Titles (Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here [1:18]
2. Brazil [2:53]
3. You Discover You're in New York [3:37]
4. Just Lemonade [2:24]
5. A Sinful Place [4:03]
6. Minnie's in the Money [1:08]
7. Casey at the Bat [2:18]
8. The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat [5:11]
9. Ferry Ride [6:32]
10. Good Time? [:51]
11. The Jitters [6:56]
12. Goodbye, Soldier [2:04]
13. Hero [1:32]
14. No Time to Be Sensible [2:48]
15. No Love, No Nothin' [:56]
16. What a Coincidence [1:33]
17. Remember Paris? [2:56]
18. Rose Fever [3:32]
19. Fiendish Scheme [1:17]
20. Birthday Gift [2:28]
21. Rehearsal [2:27]
22. Sound Investments [3:27]
23. Big Surprise [2:12]
24. Small World [2:58]
25. Paducah [:48]
26. A Journey to a Star [1:21]
27. The Polka Dot Polka [4:57]
28. Kaleidoscope [3:06]

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