This isn’t a theory! Russell has talked often about his love of Busby Berkeley’s musical numbers (also: Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS; THE WIZARD OF OZ; THE BLUE ANGEL) and specifically homaged them in THE BOYFRIEND, but with a little squinting you can see their influence all over his work. Mad Ken correctly perceives them as nightmarish hallucinations (dreamed up by Busby in the bath under the malign influence of the dry martini, coincidentally Bunuel’s favourite tipple) and uses their Vigorously Oneiric Qualities regularly in his own work. The skull that moves in on us during the credits of GOTHIC is an even closer match for Wini Shaw in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935, whom I’ve always referred to as The Floating Head of Death. She freaks me out, drifting in on me like that! Only Arthur Frayn from ZARDOZ is allowed to pull a stunt like that in my household. And even then, only once a year, on his birthday.
Now I’m wondering if the Floating Head Woman against the star-scape at the end of THE ELEPHANT MAN (“Nothing will die”), who fades from view, morphs into Virginia Madsen (we LOVE Virginia Madsen!), slips on a ruff and comes back at the start of DUNE, is also a descendant of Wini Shaw?
Put another way: does David Lynch love Busby Berkeley?
He’d be CRAZY not to!