Even if you don’t know the name Busby Berkeley, you’ve likely seen his work (or something inspired by it). During Hollywood’s classic era, the director and choreographer created some of the most visually daring, beautiful and gorgeous musical and dance numbers, elevating the form to a level that others would try to match for decades (up to now). So, a biopic about the Hollywood legend, but we’re just as surprised as you to learn it’ll be Ryan Gosling telling the tale. And pleased.
Warner Bros. has snapped up the rights to Jeffrey Spivak‘s book “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley” for Gosling and Marc Platt—the pair also worked on “Drive“—to produce, with Baby Goose also looking at the project to star in and direct. And beyond the visual potential and behind-the-scenes Hollywood tale it promises, Berkeley’s life was no less dazzling. Here’s the Amazon synopsis of the book:
Spivak’s well-written biography of the Hollywood choreographer and director, famous for the complicated, kaleidoscopic dances he choreographed for such films as 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933, has scholarly depth yet is gracefully accessible. Spivak’s writing is especially strong when he discusses Berkeley’s trademark style—playful, visually arresting dances, packed with large numbers of chorus girls dancing in lockstep—and his myriad artistic influences, which include his mother, who was in the theater and silent movies; and a stint in the military, where he drilled soldiers to march in formation. In his prime, Berkeley worked extremely long hours like a man possessed, driving himself and his dancers to the brink of collapse and, in Berkeley’s case, beyond, into an alcoholism that eventually all but destroyed his career. Cineastes will enjoy Spivak’s close attention to Berkeley’s obsessively detailed planning and execution processes, and Spivak’s no-less-detailed descriptions of the final films. And for those who like movie gossip, there’s Berkeley’s wild, dysfunctional private life (which included parties, love affairs, and multiple marriages, all fueled by too much alcohol).
This one is still a way off, with a writer yet to tackle the script, but we’re already excited about the potential here. And if Gosling’s ambitious debut feature “How To Catch A Monster,” which is now in post-production, comes off the way it should, he’s got a bright, fascinating future ahead. [THR]