Top 10 Dance Routines

Well, I seem to have made it to the 100 post mark for this blog, so I felt the need to celebrate! Considering I have always been quite fond of musicals, which originally inspired me to take up dancing, I feel like doing my top 10 dance routines from the movies! Now, I did set up a few limits. Mainly, I tried to limit the number of dance routines featuring any specific dancers to about one solo routine and one partnered routine per person (otherwise, I could easily list quite a few for some dancers with ease)! I should also mention, that it’s not just the dancing itself, but sometimes the music that influences my opinion as well. Again, this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily even my favorite dance routines and/or songs, but those that just mesh well. They will be presented as song, dancer(s), movie.

1. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” Fred Astaire, Blue Skies

Fred Astaire’s big tap solo that was originally intended to be his last, as he went into retirement after this movie (which, thankfully, was short-lived). This routine allowed Fred to show he still had some considerable skill, improved by using special effects, such as his cane flying into his hand from the ground. But most famously, we have Fred dancing with a background chorus that consisted entirely of him (long before the days of CGI), which demonstrates just how well-rehearsed and precise he could be with his movements!

2. “Never Gonna Dance,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time

While Fred Astaire partnered with a number of talented ladies over his career, few are better remembered than Ginger Rogers, who brought her talents as a dramatic actress to the table. It took a lot of thought to pick which one of their routines to add to this list, but I went with “Never Gonna Dance.” This wonderful dance showcases their dramatic abilities, coupled with superb dancing (not to mention beautiful music that also brings back “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Waltz In Swing Time”)!

3. “Singin’ In The Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain

Of course, no list of famous dances would be complete without this classic! You can’t help but smile when thinking of Gene Kelly’s iconic dance, joyful in what could otherwise be depressing weather! So grab an umbrella and start dancing (and singing!) in the rain!

4. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Marge and Gower Champion, Lovely To Look At

For me, this one just HAS to be on the list. The husband-and-wife dance team of Marge and Gower Champion wasn’t renowned for their acting ability, and neither made a huge mark in the movies, but this movie (and most particularly this routine) was one of their best. From their kiss at the beginning of the routine that sends them “up among the stars” to the end of the routine, we are treated to some wonderful dancing, some superb lifts and one of the most beautiful orchestrations of this (or any other song) that I’ve had the chance to enjoy!!

5. “Barn Dance,” group dance, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Ok, so I’m simplifying things by calling it a group dance, but if I listed everybody, you’d spend too much time reading that list! But still, who can pass up the chance to watch the six brothers constantly one-up the men from town as they show off for the ladies! Between the music, the high-flying leaps and flips, this is always fun!

6. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor, Singin’ In The Rain

Yep, Donald O’Connor’s classic comedy dance is here, too! While the music might have borrowed heavily from the Cole Porter tune “Be A Clown,” Donald brought all of his abilities to hear, with pratfalls, and many different comedy bits (and some dancing as well)! Always fun to watch (and good for a laugh)!

7. “Ragamuffin Romeo,” Marion Stadler and Don Rose, King Of Jazz

As I’ve said before, a wonderful example of some old vaudeville style dancing! While neither of the two dancers here have any lasting fame, what they do is still impressive! She’s supposed to be a doll made up of rags, and, with her flexibility, she acts and moves just like it! The lifts are just phenomenal, and I could easily watch this dance time and time again!

8. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ GiveMy Regards To Broadway,” James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

While he was a song-and-dance man himself, James Cagney ended up being typecast as a gangster for a lot of his movies with Warner Brothers. But this movie (and most particularly these two songs paired together) helped change that. Cagney successfully portrayed George M. Cohan, making use of the real Cohan’s style of dance, while still maintaining his own!

9. “Honolulu,” Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen, Honolulu

This is one of those dances I just love to watch! For me, it was this dance that proved to me what I had heard many times, that Eleanor Powell was one of the few women at that time who could out-dance Fred Astaire. The music is fun, as is watching Gracie Allen dancing with Eleanor, but once Eleanor starts with her solo section, that’s when the real fun begins! I love watching her tap dance and jump rope at the same time (personally, I would probably get tangled up in a hurry if I tried)!

10. “Heather On The Hill,” Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon

As wonderful a dancer as she is, of course Cyd Charisse needed to be represented on this list! While there are other dances that she did that I enjoyed more (but can’t include because of my own silly rules), I can’t deny the beauty of this duet with Gene Kelly. With some beautiful music to help, this romantic routine with its lifts and balletic quality is certainly still worthy of inclusion!

Well, that’s my list! I hope everyone enjoyed it (and I’d certainly like to hear what everybody else’s lists would be)! Also, if there’s enough demand/ interest, later on I might just do a “Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn!” But that’s all for now!

2018: Year In Review + Top 11 Movies Watched

Update on 12/23/2019: I hadn’t planned on doing anymore editing of this one, but since I decided to make my 2019 list a Year In Review, I’ve decided to come back and do the same for 2018. In looking back, 2018 saw me deciding, just for the fun of it, to go through and “review” many of the movies I watch for my friends. With their support, I started out with a few then-recent purchases, posting those reviews as notes on my Facebook profile. After starting to see how quickly they were going to pile up, I then created my own FB fan page, where I moved those written reviews over to. On there, starting with my review of Going Hollywood, I started doing the reviews as videos. Then, after a while, I decided to start a blog, and this site was born! Now home to my written reviews, along with exclusive stuff, like my posts on screen teams, comparing films, film series, not to mention some of my lists (including my Top 40 Christmas Movies list), It’s been a work-in-progress as I try to refine how I am doing everything.

On the movie side of things, as I said, I started out doing a few then-recent purchases, before switching to the filmographies of various movie stars. I started out with plans to review movies from George Burns and Gracie Allen, along with Eleanor Powell, but, after previously reviewing King Of Jazz and throwing in a few of his other films, I decided to add in Bing Crosby, too. And while I had planned to take a break from those reviews to focus in on Christmas movies in December (or rather, for the days before Christmas day itself), I decided to break even earlier and focus on a few film noirs for the month of November (or, rather, “Noir-vember”). Of course, I also focused in on comments about screen teams like George Burns & Gracie Allen and Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire, plus comparing My Man Godfrey and Merrily We Live, as well as my thoughts on the two Bob Hope Paleface films and Bing Crosby’s turns as Father O’Malley in Going My Way and The Bells Of St. Mary’s.

Update on 8/26/2019: originally published on 11/22/2018, it was my plan to leave this post alone, and do it every year on Thanksgiving. Since then, I have decided to do my first edit of “Top Disc Releases Of The Year” posts on Thanksgiving, and do my “Top 10 Movies Watched In The Year” posts just after my final review of the year. Since I hadn’t included the remaining movies I reviewed in 2018 after publishing this post, I am including the one movie that would have made the list and, instead of dropping the last movie on the list, make this a one-time “Top 11 Movies Watched In The Year” list.

And here’s my list, for what I think are some of the best movies I watched in the year 2018 (and reviewed).  Admittedly, this list mainly includes titles I have watched and reviewed since I started doing this (otherwise, the list would be quite different).  These are all movies I enjoyed, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Blue Skies (1946) (Universal Studios, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for a second to prove that they are “A Couple of Song and Dance Men,” and Fred proves shows us what it would be like to see him dancing with a chorus of dancers as good as he is (because they are all him!) in this musical, with the wonderful music of Irving Berlin to support them!  Full review here.
  2. Carefree (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The eighth of ten movies to co-star Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this screwball comedy mainly features Ginger Rogers, and shows just how well she can handle comedy!  And of course, what would an Astaire-Rogers movie be without some dancing as well, with music provided by composer Irving Berlin!  Full review here.
  3. Follow the Fleet (1936) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The fifth Astaire-Rogers movie features Fred Astaire in the navy.  He is joined by Randolph Scott, and Ginger Rogers and Harriet Hilliard (Nelson) are their love interests.  Features music from Irving Berlin, including the haunting “Let’s Face The Music and Dance.”  Full review here.
  4. The Sky’s The Limit (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A wartime musical featuring Fred Astaire as a flying ace trying to go incognito to enjoy his ten-day leave.  He meets a photographer played by Joan Leslie, who wants to be do more for the war effort than just fluff pieces on local celebrities.  Features one of Fred’s best tap solos set to the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).”  Full review here.
  5. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic tale of Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) coming to town looking for a bride, and finding Milly (Jane Powell).  Upon meeting his rough-housing six brothers, she helps refine them to help their prospects.  And of course, who can ever forget the barn-raising dance, one of the best dances ever put to film!  Full review here.
  6. A Damsel In Distress (1937) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In his first movie alone since being partnered with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire is joined by comedy (and dance!) team George Burns and Gracie Allen in a musical supported by the music of George and Ira Gerswhin.  Full review here.
  7. White Christmas (1954) (Paramount, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic Christmas musical featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a show business team, both onstage and behind the scenes.  When they, along with their new girlfriends played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, run into their former general, now running a failing inn, they decide to help save his inn.  A wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime, but just as fun the rest of the year, too!  Full review here.
  8. Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The king of rhythm (Fred Astaire) and the queen of tap (Eleanor Powell) team up in this movie about a pair of Broadway hopefuls, one of whom gets a big part due to a case of mistaken identity.  Full review here.
  9. Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) (DVD not currently available but available as digital copy/streaming on Amazon, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Fun movie starring Eleanor Powell as a hopeful dancer wanting to make good on Broadway, supported by several wonderful tunes from the song-writing team of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.  Full review here.
  10. Honolulu (1939) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Robert Young stars in a “Prince and the Pauper”-type role, as two different men with an uncanny resemblance, while Eleanor Powell does the Hawaiian hula her way, with support from George Burns and Gracie Allen!  Full review here.
  11. Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Judy Garland pulls double duty as a mother and daughter from Ireland, does “Singin’ in the Rain” her way and more in this classic based on the George M. Cohan show.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: The Jazz Singer (1927) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray and DVD), Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD), My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD)

Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

(Updated 8/23/2019 from “Top 5 Disc Releases of 2018” to “Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018”)

Here’s the list you have been waiting for, on what I think are some of the best releases for 2018, giving new life to old classics and forgotten gems!  Again, my thoughts are coming ONLY from what I have been able to see myself.  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic musical about a family of seven brothers who fall in love with girls from town, this movie has been given a new lease on life.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of Warner Archive, this movie, which has been in bad shape for years, has a new restoration from newly rediscovered film elements that makes it look closer to how it was originally supposed to look than it has in a long time!  Do NOT miss this one if you can help it!  Full review here.
  2. The Sea Hawk (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic seafaring adventure starring Errol Flynn as an English captain helping Queen Elizabeth to stop King Phillip II of Spain from trying to take over the world. While parts of the movie were cut a long time ago for a theatrical double-feature, they were restored to the movie in the 80s, and the new Blu-ray restoration shows off the best that could be done for this wonderful movie! Full review here.
  3. Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A long-forgotten gem, this screwball comedy centers on a family whose matriarch (Billie Burke) is prone to hiring any tramp who comes to the door.  When Wade Rawlins (Brian Aherne) is hired, almost all the female members of the household fall in love with him.  With a new restoration from the capable hands of Classicflix, this one is surely worth a try!  Full review here.
  4. My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • One of the best-known screwball comedies, this movie starring William Powell and Carole Lombard features a “forgotten man” hired to be the butler for a very eccentric family.  Having been in the public domain for a number of years (which usually means poor transfers for the movies), this movie has been restored by Universal, and now looks fantastic!  Full review here.
  5. My Sister Eileen (1955) (Twilight Time, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10
    • The classic film musical starring Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett as a pair of sisters coming to New York to make their dreams come true. With a new high definition transfer, the movie looks even better, and shows off the scenery (not to mention the dancing as well)! Full review here.
  6. The Awful Truth (1937) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this classic screwball comedy that introduced us to the fully-formed Cary Grant persona, we have Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a couple who try to undergo divorce, only to find they can’t stand the thought of the other being with somebody else!  Recently restored from the best available elements for this release.  Full review here.
  7. Gun Crazy (1950) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this film noir that predates the classic Bonnie And Clyde, we follow Peggy Cummins and John Dall, who star as a couple obsessed with guns who go on an increasingly violent crime spree. Released by Warner Archive Collection, their usual fantastic work is evident in the transfer, which brings this classic black-and-white film to life! Full review here.
  8. Designing Woman (1957) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • In this comedy starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, we follow a couple who just met and got married in a hurry, only to find out when they return home just how different their lifestyles are. As usual, Warner Archive has given us a great release on Blu-ray that looks fantastic, and is certainly the way to see the movie! Full review here.
  9. Home From The Hill (1960) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 9/10)
    • Robert Mitchum stars as Wade Hunnicutt, a big game hunter, whose son, played by George Hamilton, wants to live up to his father’s reputation, even though his mother firmly disagrees, due to the long-simmering feelings of hatred for her husband. The scenery and townsfolk are easily brought to life with the recent Blu-ray release, which is definitely the best way to see the movie! Full review here.
  10. King of Jazz (1930) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD, My Rating: 8/10)
    • A plotless musical revue, built around the orchestra and music of Paul Whiteman, recently restored to as close to its original length as possible.  Features the Radio City Rockettes (under a different name), along with other vaudevillian singers and dancers.  Also the film-debut of Bing Crosby.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: Les Girls (1957) (Blu-ray, Warner Archive Collection), Casanova Brown (1944) (Blu-ray and DVD, Classicflix), Running Wild (1927) (Blu-ray and DVD, Kino Lorber)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)

“Nice night for a coon hunt.”

OK, now that I’m done trying to flirt with the ladies, we’ll get on to my thoughts on the movie Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

Of course, the film’s plot is well known. Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) comes to town, determined to return home with a wife in tow. He finds Milly, (Jane Powell), who marries him, and sticks with him, even after she arrives and discovers Adam’s brothers (and his views). She then tries to positively influence the brothers, which works except for when Adam disagrees with her. At a barn-raising, the brothers fall for some of the girls from town, but get into trouble when the suitors from town start a fight with them. Feeling like they have no chance, they listen to elder brother Adam and kidnap the girls.

As a whole, I think this movie’s reputation speaks for itself. I know there are aspects to it that really don’t jibe with a lot of things today, and that is understandable. Of course, it is all up to the interpretation of the viewer. For me, personally, this movie is one I have enjoyed watching for many years, and one I definitely would recommend to everybody, as long as they are willing to try it. It’s worth it just for the barn-raising sequence alone! I may not have been watching it as much the last few years, but with my new Blu-ray disc, I will definitely be trying to watch it more often again. Speaking of which…

Now, normally, I don’t want to try and push any one format for viewing. In this instance, I really want people, if they can, to try the newly released Blu-ray, and I’ll tell you at least two reasons why. First, this release contains two versions of this movie. At the time it was made, the movie studios were trying to find a way to combat the recent menace of television, and get people to go back to the movie theatres. One way they tried to do that was by switching to widescreen movies. MGM decided to film this movie (and several others) in two different aspect ratios, because they weren’t sure whether it was going to be permanent or just a fad like the attempt at 3-D. They had the Cinemascope version (the one we all know and love), and they had an alternate widescreen version (framed in such a way that they could cut off part of the sides), using completely different takes. Of course, by the time the movie came out, Cinemascope had taken off in popularity, and so the alternate version was barely seen, until it was released on laserdisc in the late 90s (and again on DVD as part of a two-disc set around 2005).

The second (and better reason) to try the new blu is the movie’s new RESTORATION. For the most part, popular movies tend to be in rougher shape, but from what I have heard, back in the 70s, the studio decided to blow it up to 70mm. I don’t know whether it was the fact that they did it, or whether it was poorly done, but they REALLY damaged the original camera negative when they did that. So what we have seen, for years, is what they have been able to cobble together from the best sources they had available, which would not have produced a good Blu-ray without EXPENSIVE work. From what I have heard, they found an old print that had been made BEFORE the damage was done to the movie. Warner put a lot of work into it, and that is what they have released on blu. I can tell you right now, the movie looks AMAZING. So much more colorful than what we have seen for a long time. Does the movie look perfect? No, but from what I have heard, whatever problems remain have EVERYTHING to do with how the movie was originally filmed in the first place (after all, technology isn’t always perfect).

I have no idea whether the new transfer is available as a digital copy (possibly through Warner Archive Collection on iTunes), but I know the new transfer is NOT available on DVD. I know not everybody has the ability to watch blu-rays, but if you do (and you enjoy this movie), I VERY MUCH RECOMMEND you try it out! Pricing wise, it is a little expensive (which is to be expected, since Warner Archive is a MOD (manufacture-on-demand) division, which tries to give the same quality as the retail division, while acknowledging that sales will not be as good, so prices are a little higher to help offset that), but this two-disc set is priced the exact same as their one-disc releases, so it is a bargain!

“I’m a lonesome polecat…”

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes (for both versions)

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

**ranked #5 in Top 11 Movies Watched In 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jane Powell – Athena (1954)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Howard Keel – Deep In My Heart (1954)

Jeff Richards – The Opposite Sex (1956)

Russ Tamblyn – Deep In My Heart (1954)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Tommy Rall – My Sister Eileen (1955)

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