There was a time when people would consistently pay money to see actors Feather Step and Dos-y-dos on screen.
For most of the twentieth century dance movies were a Hollywood staple, making stars out of hoofers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and seeing half the Best Picture Oscars from the years 1958 to 1968 going to movies with smooth dance moves.
Some dance movies from the classic age are memorable — Singin’ in the Rain has a rare 100 per cent positive rating on RottenTomatoes. Others not so much. Remember Yolanda and the Thief? Me neither. But generally audiences were enthralled by Astaire’s graceful moves or Kelly’s athletic style. Producers of this weekend’s Step Up 3D are hoping for a throw back to those heady days and that audiences will be lured to the theatre by their film’s mix of dance and eye popping 3-D.
Dance on film died out during the late 1960s as movies with social messages and hard hitting dramas took centre stage but one actor single handedly brought back hip swiveling to the big screen. John Tavolta’s performances in Saturday Night Fever and Grease opened the flood gates for dozens of high stepping films in the 1970s. Here’s a list of the good, the bad and the ugly of ’70s and ’80s dance.
Loosely based on the life of screenwriter Dean Pitchford, Footloose is the story of a spunky Chicago teen (Kevin Bacon) who moves to a small town where dancing and rock music have been outlawed. John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were all offered the lead role, but Bacon sizzles as Ren McCormack, the rebellious boy who teaches the town to kick up their heels to the tune of Let’s Hear it For the Boy. (Honourable Mention: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Not a dance movie but Pee-wee’s (Paul Ruebens) Peewee Dance to the song Tequila is a classic.)
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo isn’t remembered as a great movie (it isn’t) or for Ice-T’s performance, no, it is best remembered as the facetious name given to any unnecessary sequel. For example, Tron 2: Electric Boogaloo or perhaps Titanic 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Newsweek called 1980’s spirited but ridiculous attempt to cash in on the disco craze Can’t Stop the Music, “the first all-singing, all-dancing horror film; the Dawn of the Dead of the disco era.”