Showgirl Edie is wooed by playboy soldier Andy while he’s on military leave, but then discovers when Andy returns home that he’s been promised to a rich debutante in an arranged marriage.
The ultimate holiday: The giddy Technicolor song-and-dance extravaganza by legendary choreographer-turned-director Busby Berkeley. As pure a pleasure as can be found in the cinema, and boasting a delightfully unpredictable visual surrealism—including Carmen Miranda’s unforgettable banana number!
For me the key image of the film is the one above, the banana funnel, because this is how I imagined the whole film – an upside down image of the psyche as commonly portrayed: a timid icicle of waking consciousness above an ocean of repression, from where the roars of ancient uncivil dinosaurs rise up to haunt our dreams and imprint our automatic gestures. The Gang’s All Here is an iceberg mockingly standing on its
The heyday of Berkeley's cinema, the filmmaker that with the sequence-shot created an unmatched architecture of "trompe l'oeil", through cinema's own expressivity: by his camera-eye, the space is the consequence of a rigorous, dizzying and whirlwind choreography, in progressive spiral. Berkely was the creator of the image-dance while the spectator-eye dance with it, dancing within.
American kitsch at its ripest - and creepiest. Perhaps had I dropped acid prior to viewing it the film's grotesque abstract musical sequences would have kicked me over the moon, but, as I was unfortunate enough to see this in a state of total sobriety, they only greatly added to the discomfort I felt at the sight of the bananas atop Carmen Miranda's head, the lunatic gleam in her eyes.
Does Debord's critique of spectacle as appearance fetishism need to be modified when the (very commercial, trascendentally kitsch) appearance is so formally delirious as to shade off into abstract avant-garde? What can the profit-motive appropriate but self-parody?
Busby Berkeley doesn't care about plot! He wants dance numbers and colorful sets. The plot is merely a device to transition from one number to the next. Alice Faye was the only real thing in the movie and what a lovely voice she has.
5 stars for the kaleidoscopic dance numbers. 1 star for the hokey plot. 0 stars for the whitewashed cast. Sad to watch Carmen Miranda while knowing how, in real life, she was devastated by the negative reception of many Brazilians to her American stardom. Funny to see how much effort was put into hiding her navel to meet Hayes Code standards. Would like to see the screwed up takes of the banana number!
As I was sitting on my couch I felt an odd weightlessness... soon, I saw my consciousness leave my body and catapulted feverishly by an unseen force through a phantasmagoria of muted Technicolor and banana hats, leading me on to infinity. There were monkeys, neon lights and disembodied heads. I conversed with the Gods. But on waking, I found I'd thrown up and forgotten what They said.