Monday, December 31, 2012

"I Only Have Eyes for You" from "Dames" (1934)


It just wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without watching an old Busby Berkeley film. When I was about 11 years old, I “discovered” these old musicals on late night TV, and they came to highlight my New Year’s Eves for the next couple of years. At least until I was old enough to go out for the occasion. And even after I was, I always came home to watch whatever was on the Late, Late Show. Consequently, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler became my late night/early morning friends, inhabiting a secret world where everything always ended happily. I’m still like that; I prefer it when things work out right in the end.
In this scene from “Dames”; the 1934 Busby Berkeley film written by Robert Lord, with a screenplay by Delmer Daves; our two stars find themselves alone late at night on a train. When Dick Powell begins to croon his love for Ruby Keeler, the magic begins as Busby Berkeley seems to pull out all the stops in this wonderful musical number about love. The best part of the whole number occurs at about 4 minutes into the scene, when Ruby Keeler is falling asleep on Dick Powell’s shoulder as he gazes at a beautiful woman in the advertisement opposite him. With his true love asleep in his arms, and the train rocking along, he is caught up in a reverie consisting of Ms. Keeler’s face, which seems to float about in various formations. This is Busby Berkeley at his best.

With the help of co-stars Joan Blondell, Zasu Pitts and Guy Kibbee, this is a perfect film to end 2012 and ring in 2013. It has an actual plot concerning a morality crusader who wants to put an end to Broadway shows, but; as with almost all of Busby Berkeley’s musicals; the real focus is on the elaborate sets and gowns, as well as the perfect endings. And, with the recent weather related events in the northeast; capping off a grueling election year; this film is a like a breath of fresh air which holds all the promise of better days ahead. Happy New Years to all.

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