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THAT’S DANCING!

        

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday,Dec. 25, 2020

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re looking for a short-attention-span clipfest to cheer you up during the pandemic you could do worse than this uneven but often delightful overview of dancing in the movies, which has just been re-released on DVD by Warner Archive. My review was published in the Deseret News on Jan. 25, 1985. (And by the way, nearly a decade after this film a third ‘That’s Entertainment!’ picture was released.)

 

If you liked “That’s Entertainment!” …

 

“That’s Dancing!” is a follow-up to the two “That’s Entertainment!” movies, with its focus on dancing this time. At times it is brilliant. Other times it is insipid.

 

But when it focuses on those old classic slips, “That’s Dancing!” is irresistible.

 

This time, the same team that produced the earlier films has broadened its scope some to get clips of films outside of MGM classics. And there are so many wonderful scenes here — from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to Fred Astaire, from “West Side Story” to “Oklahoma!” — that it’s hard to believe it could nearly be ruined by throwing in gratuitous youth elements at the end. But when the focus shifts to “Flashdance” and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video, the narration becomes banal.

 

        

 

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in a clip from Carefree (1938) that is featured in 'That's Dancing!' (1985).

 

Most of Gene Kelly’s narration, especially when used in a historical context, is delightful. He shows us some of the awful dancing in silent films and early sound pictures, then goes into a wonderful salute to Busby Berkely.

 

He covers most of the best dancers in the movies and includes lots of wonderful moments, though anyone could complain about what’s missing, I suppose.

 

But when he turns the narration over to Sammy Davis, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Liza Minelli and Ray Bogler, it gets tedious.

 

        

 

Still, the clips dominate, and they are wonderful (there’s even a scene you’ve never seen from “The Wizard of Oz”). The list could go on forever, so I’ll resist the temptation and say simply, go, enjoy!

 

Did you ever want to sit the kids down and show them real dancing? This is the picture to take them to.

 

Despite a brief glimpse of burlesque performer Sally Rand’s posterior as the film opens, “That’s Dancing!” is rated G, as it should be.