He’s a great, sexy subject–not unlike doing a movie of the life of “Cabaret” director Bob Fosse. (Oh, he already did it himself: “All That Jazz.” BTW, there’s a must-read new bio out by Sam Wasson, who’s picking up screenwriting gigs.) Berkeley moved from Broadway as a 20s dance director to Hollywood, where he helped to create the movie musical genre with a string of brilliant movies for Warner Bros. Check out the elaborate camera moves and kaleidoscopic dancers in “42nd Street,” “Footlight Parade” and “Gold Diggers of 1933”– all released in 1933 alone. Berkeley, who never trained as a dancer, drilled holes in soundstage ceiling for the overhead cameras. And watch the hallucinogenic clips below (Carmen Miranda with phallic bananas! Jimmy Cagney singing and dancing to “Shanghai Lil”!) and I urge you to acquire the Busby Berkeley Collection, Volumes I and II. Berkeley started directing in pre-Code Hollywood when it was exciting and its players were inventing things as they went along.
Warner Bros. has optioned the Jeffrey Spivak biography “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley” with “Drive” producer Marc Platt, who produced Disney’s Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” and has long been developing a movie version of “Wicked” for Universal–he’s just waiting for the global stage musical to run out of steam. He also just produced Gosling’s recently wrapped “How to Catch a Monster,” the star’s writing and directing debut. Hopefully Platt and Gosling will bring on someone with superb musical/visual chops to direct–maybe Platt’s “Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov, Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) or Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”). No writer is yet attached.