Golden Age of Hollywood Book Club discussion

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Hob Nob > movies about dancing

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message 1: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Dec 11, 2019 09:44AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
No me gusta caminar. A ella no le gusta caminar. No puede montar a caballo. ¿Puedes bailar? Es un escándalo!

Does anyone know how to dance anymore? I mean, really dance?

Such a fundamental of culture--the unspoken dialogue of untold civilizations. Dancers never needed a swipe screen, wifi hub, or five bars of signal strength. No logins, usernames, or passwords. No Bengali-based helpdesks. You can't 'dance' and check your status updates at the same time.

It seems to me that dancing and movies-about-dancing need to be talked about more these days. Its a cheerful topic in a dour world.

Holding a woman properly, knowing how to move--it separates 'wheat' from 'chaff' among men. Class versus clod'. So I would never show up at a nightclub carrying anything in my pocket. Bulky, embarrassing smart-gadget> No! Dancing doesn't need 'smart'. Just do it--don't 'take pictures' of it.

Favorite dance movie or musical?


message 2: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Apr 09, 2018 04:44PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
tentative list for me

'The Music Man' --well, one of the few musicals I admire in every way. Small town Americana. Love it.
'Singing' in the Rain'--too classic not to enjoy. Inventive and clever and astounding feats of athleticism.
'Royal Wedding' --Astaire at the peak of his powers. 'Nuf said.
'Three Little Words' Obscure musical about the songwriting team of Kalmar & Ruby.
'The Wizard of Oz' Of course.
'The Blues Brothers'. Oh hell yeah.
'New York, New York' Scorcese. Nuf said.
'Ball of Fire' Babs Stanwyck
'Lady of Burlesque' Babs Stanwyck
'Hair'
'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

...not a big list. Apart from 'American in Paris' that's all I can come up with!

Sinatra, Gene Kelly..sure, I like 'em...but I can't think of any other titles to salute.


message 3: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 256 comments Still remember when mom and dad took us kids to see The Music Man at the big screen when it came out. Wonderful film.
We all watched The Wizard of Oz every year when it came on TV, a few years ago, I bought the Blu-ray, and when the show went to Color I was like blown away.
Always liked Kelly, and Astair, Sinatra.


message 4: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Blu-Ray hmmm...yeah but I don't know WHAT the hell they're doing when they show classics on random channels these days. TCM seems to get it right, the technical aspects. But some networks BUTCHER the flicks. I have no idea how they can warp and distort the images so awfully. EVERYTHING seems off--color, resolution, speed, motion, lighting. Painful to look at. 'Digital' mostly destroys the basic experience of watching a great film late at night on an off-channel.


message 5: by Jamie (new)

Jamie  (jaymers8413) | 88 comments Mod
I love Busby Berkeley's musicals like 42nd Street and the Gold Diggers movies!


message 6: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
musicals sometimes experience a mini-revival

(not particularly at the hands of our own film industry, unfortunately)

but for instance, there's Bob Hoskins in the fine BBC mini-series 'Pennies from Heaven'. Its about a sheet-music writer and his girlfriend who 'take it on the lam' Bonnie & Clyde style.

But even better is the phenomenal 'The Singing Detective'. Also presented by the BBC and also written by the same author. Sure, probably none of the cast are names us Yanks would know. But it's just an astounding production. A stellar mix of detective, noir, psychological realist, coming-of-age drama and...1930s music!

It's probably my favorite mini-series of all time..I have several favorites but none I like to recommend more (warning: there is some graphic sex too).


message 7: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
this story always gives me goosebumps

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_i...


message 8: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments One of my all-time dance routines is the 'Begin the Beguine' segment in 'Broadway Melody of 1940.' The tap dancing done by Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell is extraordinary.


message 9: by Spencer (last edited Dec 08, 2019 05:26PM) (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments I like musicals where it isn't just people randomly breaking into song-- they are actually singing for a reason. Like Doris Day playing Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me. But what really interests me in musicals is the participation of the great American composers. Like the Gershwins not only wrote some of their greatest songs for Shall We Dance, George also scored it. Fred and Ginger are not t he greatest vocalists, but damn, they can dance. Same goes for Gene Kelly. He is also a serious ham as an actor. But he's pretty good with Natalie in Marjorie Morningstar. I have a weird love for Xanadu, too. It's totally idiotic, but ONJ is an incredible vocalist. Gene also gets cred for coaching Francis in dance and acting.


message 10: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Feliks wrote: "this story always gives me goosebumps

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blues_i..."


Oh, I am nuts about Arlen and Mercer. I would highly recommend everyone to watch the TCM doc This Time the Dream's On Me about Mercer. And listen to the Ella Sings the Harold Arlen Songbook album.


message 11: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I also like outdoor musicals rather than indoor ones.

"Showboat" for example. I haven't watched all of it through but I think it's hard to beat William Warwick (or whoever it was) belting out "Ole Man River" with the actual river in the background and a genuine paddle-wheeler.

(*And I don't care if anyone thinks musicals are racist! Feh!)


message 12: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Can Can is a musical about dancing. Kind of disappointing considering the talent involved. But Shirl and Francis doing "Let's Do It" makes it worth slogging through.


message 13: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Elvis movies mostly suck. There are two major exceptions: King Creole, where Leiber and Stoller hadn't yet fallen out of grace with the Kernel and there are some excellent performances from Carolyn "Morticia" Jones and Walter Mathau and Viva Las Vegas, where the chemistry the King has with Ann-Margret is positively infectious. But I bring this up because also, Ann-Margret is dancing her ass off in this movie.


message 14: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments I tend to agree with you about musicals where they just break into although there are exceptions. I think 'Gigi' handles their songs very well, almost as they're thinking to themselves. Plus I like the songs and the acting.


message 15: by Jill (last edited Dec 08, 2019 06:40PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments Only one name ever comes to mind when the word "dancing" is mentioned. ASTAIRE. There will never be another. Mikhail Baryshnikov said he was the best dancer in the world...pretty high praise.

And one of the great female tap dancers was Ann Miller.....her feet went 110 mph!!


message 16: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (last edited Dec 08, 2019 07:03PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
A reporter once interviewed a more contemporary-era stage dancer (Tommy Tune) about former greats such as Fred Astaire.

Reporter: "Tommy, do you feel dancers like Astaire possessed --well, magic?"

Tommy Tune (thinking hard about his answer). "No. Magic possesses them."


message 17: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments Great quote!.....and so true.


message 18: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments I think sometimes Ginger doesn't get credit enough for keeping up with Fred. Except with high heel taps and flowing flossy gowns.


message 19: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments That's part of the old saying about dancing backwards and in heels, but she's one of those I couldn't warm up to either, even in her non-musical films like 'Stage Door.'


message 20: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Oh, I love that film! I also like Monkey Business a lot.


message 21: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments And 42nd St. and Gold Diggers of 1933. I've heard her politics were lousy, though.


message 22: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments It's interesting how everyone kind of had to learn to dance. Sinatra, Doris Day, Judy Garland--fabulous singers who actually learned some serious moves. Apparently, Audrey Hepburn was thrilled to do Funny Face because she had started off aspiring to be a dancer. Shirley MacLaine was also a dancer first.


message 23: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Shirley MacLaine is another actress that I'm not crazy about except for 2 movies. I particularly don't like her in 'Terms of Endearment.'


message 24: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments Does anyone like Ruby Keeler's dancing? I know she was an irish Step dancer but she looks so very clumsy. She was cute as a button but I guess her dancing was an acquired taste.


message 25: by Mollie (new)

Mollie Harrison Pennock | 91 comments Someone who I didn't know (or had forgotten) could sing and dance was Ann Southern. Recently I watched the movie Nancy Goes to Rio, and Ann did a great job with both. The movie wasn't exactly a block buster, but I enjoyed it and laughed out loud at a few scenes between Ann and Barry Sullivan.


message 26: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Jill wrote: "Does anyone like Ruby Keeler's dancing? I know she was an irish Step dancer but she looks so very clumsy. She was cute as a button but I guess her dancing was an acquired taste."

I've never seen her in much, but I remember when she opened on Broadway in 'No, No, Nanette.'


message 27: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Mollie wrote: "Someone who I didn't know (or had forgotten) could sing and dance was Ann Southern. Recently I watched the movie Nancy Goes to Rio, and Ann did a great job with both. The movie wasn't exactly a blo..."

I remember Ann Sothern, mainly from television and the 'Maisie' series of films she did. She was good in those. She also sang, "The Last Time I Saw Paris' in 'Lady Be Good' which won a controversial Oscar.


message 28: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments Betsy wrote: "Jill wrote: "Does anyone like Ruby Keeler's dancing? I know she was an irish Step dancer but she looks so very clumsy. She was cute as a button but I guess her dancing was an acquired taste."

Take a look at 42nd Street, which I love and is the precursor for musicals in the 1930-40s. She looks so clumsy but maybe I just don't appreciate Irish Step dancing..........others must have loved it since the film made her extremely popular with movie audiences.


message 29: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Keeler was mighty famous and influential


message 30: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Jill wrote: "Betsy wrote: "Jill wrote: "Does anyone like Ruby Keeler's dancing? I know she was an irish Step dancer but she looks so very clumsy. She was cute as a button but I guess her dancing was an acquired..."

I didn't realize she did step-dancing. That can't be easy.


message 31: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments She just keeps looking at her feet!!!


message 32: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Maybe she had trouble remembering which foot was which? :-)
Like soldiers during the ACW, who couldn't remember which foot was which for marching.


message 33: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments :>)


message 34: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments 42nd Street is an old fave. Bought recently on DVD. "Why, you're not gonna have one of your spells again?"


message 35: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments There are some great lines in that film......Warner Baxter saying to Ruby Keeler "You are going out there a youngster but you've got to come back a star".

I always thought that George Brent was a rather odd choice for the boyfriend and former vaudeville partner of Bebe Daniels since, as far as I know, he was not a dancer or a singer. But since he didn't have to perform in the film, I guess it really didn't matter.


message 36: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments "Why, you old pot-bellied sap!"


message 37: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments Aimed at Guy Kibee!! I never get tired of watching this film and the Busby Berkeley dance segments were like nothing ever seen before.
Every thing about that film is wonderful!!!!


message 38: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I kinda have a mild liking for the peppy numbers in the musical 'Cabaret' ...but then I like most things which feature the Weimar Republic. Who choreographed, Bob Fosse?

I pass below train tracks like that every day on my way to work.


message 39: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Liza definitely lived up to her pedigree in that. I liked it way more than I thought I would. I think it probably was Fosse. He made some really good films. Lenny is fantastic.


message 40: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
It sure was. As good as Mike Nichols even might have done.

I also have a sneaking admiration for the oddball 'All That Jazz', his life story. Though hated at the time for its treacherous bait-and-switch (some 'musical'? open-heart surgery?) it ultimately does make sense. Here's a character who's been entertaining audiences all his life, a vaudeville magician at age 16. Now he's totally jaded and seen-it-all. So he learns how to be receptive to death. Now he's finally going to be entertained for a change.


message 41: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments Yeah, I like that one, too.


message 42: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments One of the movies remembered for its dancing, in fact for one dance, is 'Royal Wedding' in which Fred Astaire danced upside-down on the ceiling of his hotel room. To see that master go through his paces is almost to believe he really could have done it.


message 43: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
I love it. One of my favorite sequences and I am not even a fan of musicals. There's another of my faves in that same romp, (I've probably mentioned it afore) is the Jane Powell number with Fred [and a little monkey(!)] "I Left My Hat in Haiti". It's exotic too because their characters are brother & sister dancers but whew, Jane's eyes are sure smouldering.


message 44: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 2281 comments Interesting. Have seen the movie and I don't remember that number with the monkey. Maybe it's because I'm not much on monkeys.


message 45: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments I could never figure out how they did that dancing on the walls and ceiling routine. I finally had to look it up. If anyone could really dance on the ceiling, it would be Astaire!!!


message 46: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
It wasn't the last time they relied on such a mechanism, as I recall. Kubrick used one in Space Odyssey. There may have been a couple more instances; Walt Disney's 'Black Hole' for example.

Nowadays, of course, they wouldn't even bother 'building' anything. 'Technological advances' and 'Progress', ...allegedly. Yet no film of today looks better than what Kubrick did with traditional lighting and traditional photography.


message 47: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) | 2527 comments I think that is why I appreciate older films that didn't rely on computer technology to get special effects. Those folks, such as Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen were amazing with what they could do with stop motion photography and models.


message 48: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
Agreed. There's just something pure and simple about traditional camera and lights which does the essential and beautiful trick of making you feel you're actually in the setting with the other actors. That your own two eyes could really be viewing the scene in person.

Whereas, looking at anything computerized; the effects 'push you away'. Yes, (your eyes will attest) there's a stupefying, mesmerizing effect ...such as when you watch anything intricate...but I don't think it allows you to relax and slip right up there into it. There's something 'off', which your instincts detect, no matter how good the number-crunching is.


message 49: by Feliks, Co-Moderator (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 2484 comments Mod
related to what I just typed: the 'uncanny valley' concept

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny...


message 50: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Rich | 868 comments The best CGI is the least noticible, usually. Inception did some pretty cool stuff with some obvious modern effects. More the exception than the rule. Even leaving out effects, DV can never get the look of real film projected in a classic theater with a reasonable size screen.


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Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (other topics)

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