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Blonde Inspiration

Blonde Inspiration(1941)

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teaser Blonde Inspiration (1941)

A mere blip on the radar of Busby Berkeley's overall career, Blonde Inspiration (1941) nonetheless may have had special significance for Hollywood's premiere dance and film director, who often felt undervalued by an industry that profited from his vision and technical innovations. Having abdicated Warner Brothers for the more appreciative climate of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Berkeley displayed a gift for light comedy with Strike Up the Band (1940), MGM's follow-up to Babes in Arms (1939), prompting the studio to pitch him the similarly bantamweight Blonde Inspiration (1941). The non-musical tale of a fledgling writer (perennial Hollywood bit player Johnny Shelton, elevated temporarily to the majors) who sells a story to a big city magazine publisher (Doctor Cyclops' Albert Dekker) only to find his yarn attributed to another, more established writer (Donald Meek), the film made comic hay of Berkeley's plight of seeing his best work (the Scarecrow dance in Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz [1939], the bravura finale of W. S. Van Dyke's Bitter Sweet [1940]) go uncredited. The February 1941 release failed to find favor with American moviegoers, who remained confused by the title, given that leading lady Virginia Grey spends the entire run time as a brunette. Berkeley had better luck when he reteamed with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney for the hit musical Babes on Broadway (1941).

By Richard Harland Smith

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