Chester Kent produces musical comedies on the stage. With the beginning of the talkies era he changes to producing short musical prologues for movies. This is stressful to him, because he always needs new units and his rival is stealing his ideas. He can get an contract with a producer if he is able to stage in three days three new prologues. In spite of great problems, he does it. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
Before the bus leaves for the three prologue performances the call board reads Diana Theatre 8pm, Mercury Theatre 9pm and Jupiter Theatre 10pm. They arrive at the Jupiter Theatre first and proceed in reverse order from what was written on the call board. See more »
Busby's genius --his "fantastic" use of camera and editing-- is even more remarkably innovative when you remember that only a few years before this film was made on the sound stages of Warner Bros. in 1933 cameras were stuck in sound proof booths in order to deaden the noise of the machine. Many movies back then were no more than static reproductions of talky stage plays. Busby opened the door to pure cinema.
Busby is surely one of the first directors to realize that if you pre-recorded the music sound tracks before you filmed the musical numbers you could then move the actors and dancers as you wished; the performers would either be lip-syncing or dancing to playback and the camera could be anywhere high or low. Busby's previous experience as a drill master in the military also taught him how to train dancers and swimmers by giving them only a few steps (or strokes) to learn at a time; by clever editing a montage of shots in time to a set music track he could then give the impression of a continuously flowing extravaganza a la Zigfield. One can only imagine how many hours went into getting the never-to-be-equaled overhead snake design shot in "By A Waterfall."
Yes, the Odessa steps sequence in "Potemkin" is justifiably considered to be one of the great innovative moments in cinema. Let me cast my vote for Busby's incomparable last act to "Footlight Parade."
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