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A documentary film about dancing on the screen, from it’s orgins after the invention of the movie camera, over the movie musical from the late 20s, 30s, 40s 50s and 60s up to the break dance and the music videos from the 80s.
Jack Haley, Jr. was a driving force behind this film and That’s Entertainment, which was released a decade earlier. As the title states, focuses on just that. Compared to That’s Entertainment, it takes itself a bit more seriously as a documentary but is highly entertaining. It explores the early history of dance on film including brief footage of Isadora Duncan, and, like TE, showcases great numbers from the 1930’s-50’s with performances by Fred Astaire, Elanor Powell, Bill “Bojangles’ Robinson, Gene Kelly, and the great Nicholas Brothers. TD also devotes a segment to Busby Burkley’s signature work of the 1930’s and a section on ballet in the movies. None of the footage overlaps with TE which make this a nice companion piece. TD takes things a step further with dance sequences from the 60-80’s, including break dancing. The newer eras show dancing that is grittier, earthier, and in some cases, uglier. In a sense, the attempt to be more contemporary makes That’s Dancing less likeable than That’s Entertainment. However, it’s not the movie’s fault that newer dances are uglier; it’s the civilization’s.
Great Stuff From The Classic Masters
From the early years, I’ve always found it fun to marvel at the talent of Ruby Keeler, Eleanor Powell, Fred Astaire, Bill Robinson, Shirley Temple, Gene Kelly, etc. Here they all are on one tape! What a great tribute to these great entertainers and perhaps it can turn people on to watching some of these great musicals of the past.
I’m also always awed at those great sets on the Busby Berkley extravaganzas. They were incredible. The more you like tap dancing, which I do, the better this tape (or disc, now that it’s out on DVD) will look to you, but there are other forms of dance featured in here, too.