Saturday, February 4, 2012

What's under that skirt?

ACK!  This has to rate as the most hallucinogenic 1930s production number I've ever seen, and I don't even think it's Busby Berkeley. Berkeley had a certain shiny, tappy, violently vulgar quality, while this scene, done in one incredible shot, with its swooping, suffocating curtains, dancers in skin-tight body suits and sweetly androgynous tenor soloist, is oddly sultry, even erotic: those silken drapes are hauled up as seductively as a bosomy chorine slowly raising her hemline to reveal God-knows-what.

That massive spiral-staircase turntable, the design of which must be the product of an evil mind harnessed to an over-the-top budget, keeps revealing ever-more-incredible sights and sounds, bizarre stylized dancers that look almost mechanical, operatic excerpts quickly followed by Rhapsody in Blue, and. . . at the top of it all, a Woman, immobilized as a bride buried up to the waist in cake-frosting.

Yes, she's a human cupcake, folks, looking positively edible, and I could eat her right now.  As the silken folds of those swooshy, almost liquid drapes slowwwwwwwly descend, evoking smoky boudoirs and perfume-reeking bridal chambers, we realize we have been taken on a mind-boggling trip through an abstract-art-deco/Freudian-dream-symbol-scape, a big round succulent spiral slowly sucking us into its insatiable vortex, a. . . Yes. It's eight minutes of glorious, strangely orgasmic movie magic.