Tap Dancing in the Movies
- Part 4 T - Z
Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949) - Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are base ball players who have a
song and dance double act and tour the clubs and theatres. The first tap number is the title song performed as part of their
act. Gene later sings a song about the hat his father wore on St Patrick’s Day. It’s quite a long dance and the
tap is brilliant. There’s
a little bit of tap at the end when Gene and Frank go back on tour joined by Betty Garrett and Esther Williams.
Tap (1989) - What a film?! It starts with
Gregory Hines in a prison cell where the constant sound of dripping water inspires him to put on his tap shoes and dance.
When he later leaves prison he finds his old studio and, after watching a class for a bit, puts his shoes on and taps. All
the old masters then join him for a challenge - Sammy Davis Jr, Jimmy Slyde, Howard ‘Sandman’ Sims, Steve Condos,
Pat Rico, Arthur Duncan, Bunny Briggs and Harold Nicholas. At the club Suzzanne Douglass performs with the Shim Sham girls
who are Jane Goldberg, Frances E Nealy, Dianne Walker, and Dorothy Wasserman. Following
this Gregory drags everyone outside to listen to the sounds of the city and a very big tap dance follows. This routine includes
an excellent dance with Gregory and three other guys. Savion Glover plays Suzzanne’s son and we see a little dancing
from him when he takes over a class. Gregory and Suzzanne then dance on the roof trying to recall a routine they used to do. Later, he auditions for a producer with a great routine. At the end of the film Gregory
dances in the club with his shoes ‘wired up’ to a synthesizer.
Tea For Two (1950) - Doris Day is a wealthy
stage struck girl who wants to put on a Broadway show. The first routine features Doris and Gene Nelson and is a wonderful
duet. There’s a little bit of tap from Patrice Wymore followed by Gene dancing on a large drum. During a rehearsal there’s some tap from the chorus who are joined by Gene and Doris. Gene goes into
a solo spot up and down the stairs. The show finally goes ahead and contains some fabulous dancing.
Texas Carnival (1951) - Ann Miller sings ‘Dynamite’ and taps her way across some tables. She taps again later at
a local dance dressed as a cow girl.
The Bandwagon (1953) - Fred Astaire plays
a fading musical star who gets the chance to be in a new show with Cyd Charisse. The only tap number is Fred singing ‘Shine
On Your Shoes’ and having a little dance with the shoe-shine boy - Leroy Daniels
The Barkleys of Broadway (1949) - The film
opens with Fed Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing. They play Josh & Dinah Barkley, a successful husband and wife song and
dance duo with a very argumentative relationship! The first tap number is when they rehearse a new piece for the show. It’s
a fabulous duet with some tricky and fast rhythms. Later, after they’ve split, Fred continues the show alone and performs
the fabulous ‘Shoes With Wings On’ routine where the tap shoes come alive. It lasts nearly 7 minutes and features
tap from Fred and another guy.
The Belle of New York (1952) - The story
of a rich play boy (Fred Astaire) falling for a girl (Vera-Ellen). He dances on a rooftop to ‘Seeing Is Believing’.
There’s a huge dance sequence which covers all four seasons. In the ‘summer’ scene Fred and Vera-Ellen’s
dance contains some tap. Later Fred performs the famous ‘Dancin’ Man’ sand dance which is just brilliant.
The Broadway Melody (1929) - This is about
Broadway and love and only contains a little bit of tap dancing in the rehearsal and show scenes. However, during the ‘Broadway
Melody’ routine there is some en pointe tap.
The Cotton Club (1984) - Set at the end
of the twenties in Harlem, this film is about gangsters, molls and jazz. Gregory Hines and his brother Maurice play the
Williams Brothers, a couple of hoofers who get a job in the famous Cotton Club. The first tap sequence is only 40 seconds
long and features them on their first night. Gregory visits the Hoofers Club and we get a quick burst of some of the ‘masters’
- James 'Buster' Brown, Ralph Brown, Harold Cromer, Bubba Gaines, George Hillman, Henry Phace Roberts, Howard
'Sandman' Sims, Jimmy Slyde, Henry LeTang, Charles Young and Tip, Tap & Toe. Gregory and Maurice dance together
later when they meet up again after some years. Later Gregory is dancing at the club, first with 6 girls then with a larger
group but we only get little snippets of the routine. The final number is Gregory dancing alone in the deserted club, although
again it cuts away to other scenes.
The Gay Divorcee (1934) - Fred Astaire plays
a song and dance man and the first tap section is when he ‘dances for his dinner’ in a Paris restaurant. Soon
afterwards Fred sings and dances about how he’s going to search the whole of London for Ginger Rogers’ character,
who he had recently met. There’s a little bit of tap from Betty Grable (playing a hotel guest) singing "Let's K-knock
K-knees" with Edward Everett Horton. Fred and Ginger then dance together to a very long version of ‘The Continental’
which starts with them, changes to a large mixed chorus and finished with everyone.
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) - This film follows
the ups and downs of Ziegfeld - the famous producer of shows. The tap comes from Ray Bolger. Firstly we see him in his job
as stagehand tapping while sweeping the stage in early Stomp style. Later, he is
given the chance to perform in the show and does a great comedy tap routine.
The Harvey Girls (1946) - More tap from
Ray Bolger. This time he’s at a party held at Harvey House, a restaurant and he does a fantastic routine, again with
a hint of comedy.
The Little Colonel (1935) - Shirley Temple
lives with her grandfather. Bill Robinson works for the grandfather. Bill has to persuade Shirley to go to bed and show’s
her a great new way to do it - the famous stair dance. They dance a little together again later in the film too.
The Littlest Rebel (1935) - Shirley Temple
and Bill Robinson again. Within the first few minutes of the film Bill is dancing at Shirley’s birthday party. There’s
a short routine, similar to the Shim Sham from both of them as they try to distract the enemy soldiers from looking for her
father who is hiding in the loft. Sadly her father does get caught and put in jail. Shirley and Bill need to get to Washington
so dance a lovely duet in the street to raise money
The Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) - Shirley
Temple again playing the daughter of a rich company owner. When Jack Haley, an entertainer, is practising his tap with partner
Alice Faye, Shirley copies him in the room below. There’s more tap from the three of them in a long military number
at the end of the film.
The Sky’s the Limit (1943) - Fred
Astaire is a pilot trying to impress Joan Leslie by just being himself in ‘civvies’. They sing and dance together
at a club where she has an act. Later in the film a ‘drunk’ Fred sings and dances to ‘One For My Baby’
which includes dancing on the bar and smashing glasses.
The Story of Irene & Vernon Castle (1939)
- Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star as the husband and wife dance team. Fred’s first tap dance is when he upstages
someone else while they’re all waiting at the station. They dance together, shortly after they’re married, for
Fred’s boss in an effort to persuade him to put their act in the show. There’s loads more lovely dancing from
Fred and Ginger but no more tap.
The Time Of Your Life (1948) - Set ion a
bar in San Francisco, this film is about the characters who go there. One of these is Paul Draper who plays an aspiring dancer.
Throughout the whole film there are little snippets of him doing some amazing tap.
The West Point Story (1950) - The film opens with rehearsals and Gene Nelson tapping. James Cagney then takes over to show him how to do
it properly. James and Virginia Mayo then dance together as they help put on a show. There’s more tap from all three
of them as rehearsals continue. One worth mentioning is a routine by Gene using a cane. It’s fabulous and must have
taken a few ‘takes’ to ensure he caught the cane every time! The last 10 minutes of the film are the actual show
and contain tap from everyone.
There’s No Business like Showbusiness (1954) - Dan Dailey and Ethel Merman are the Donahues - a husband and wife song and dance act. The film follows their lives
as they have children - Johnnie Ray, Mitzi Gaynor and Donald O’Connor - who become part of the act. There are little
snippets of tap throughout and Donald does a great number on his own to ‘A Man Chases A Girl’.
This Is The Army (1943) - Film version of
the musical extravaganza that toured the world from 1942-45. George Murphy taps in his role as an entertainer, then again
as he shows the army boys how the routine goes. In the actual show there’s a blackface number to ‘Mandy’
involving the guys and girls’ (men dressed as women) from the army chorus. There’s a fabulous performance of ‘What
The Well Dressed Man In Harlem Will Wear’ and we get more tap during the ‘Stage Door Canteen’ number. Due
to the poor quality of the video, and lack of close-ups, it was difficult to make out who was who, but the tap dancers included
Gene Nelson, James ‘Stumpy’ Cross and Fred Kelly.
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) - As Julie
Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore take the lift up to Mary’s new room they find that the only way to make it work is to tap
dance! Later at a party held in the house Julie and James Fox invent the Tapioca dance.
Thousands Cheer (1943) - Gene Kelly is an
army private who falls for Kathryn Grayson, the Colonel’s daughter. He does a great routine whilst on cleaning duty,
with a mop, broom and brush plus tapping on the bar and tables. Kathryn then decides she wants to put on a show for the servicemen,
and the next 45 minutes are filled with guest stars. One of these is Eleanor Powell and she taps and turns as only she can.
Three Little Words (1950) - The story of
the songwriting duo Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. Fred Astaire plays Bert and hi dancing partner is Vera-Ellen. The film starts
with Fred and Vera-Ellen singing and dancing to ‘Where Did You Get That Girl’. In another show they perform ‘Mr
& Mrs Hoofer At Home’ - a lovely 4 minute fun routine. Unfortunately I lost sound 20 minutes into the film for nearly
20 mins so couldn’t hear Fred’s solo as he appeared to be practising a new routine - however it looked pretty
Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) - Jerome
Kern’s life story. There’s a little bit of tap from the chorus during ‘How’d You Like To Spoon With
Me’ at the London Gaieties. There’s also more tap later during ‘I Won’t Dance’ with Lucille
Bremer and Van Johnson.
Tin Pan Alley (1940) - Betty Grable and
Alice Faye are singing and dancing sisters. John Payne and Jack Oakie are songwriters. The first tap is a soft shoe by Jack
as they work on a song. Then they all team up and the girls sing ‘Hawaii’ and tap as well. Later Betty gets a
break on her own and performs ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ with a chorus of male tappers. Towards the end of the film the
girls star in the show ‘The Sheik Of Araby’ which features an absolutely fabulous routine from the Nicholas Brothers.
Too Many Girls (1940) - Lucille Ball, a
wealthy heiress, attends a small-town college. Two other college attendees are Hal LeRoy and Ann Miller and during the song
‘Spic And Spanish’ there’s great tap from both of them but separately. At the end of the film there’s
more tap from Ann during the celebrations for winning the football game.
Top Hat (1935) - Fred Astaire plays a dancer
- no surprises there. When dancing a fabulous solo in his room to ‘Fancy Free’ he disturbs Ginger Rogers in the
room below. He then decides he is in love with her and follows her around. When she’s riding in a carriage and he is
in the reins, he taps along while driving the horses. While they’re taking cover from the rain in a bandstand, Fred
sings ‘Isn’t It A Lovely Day’ and they perform a great duet. The title tune is a number in the show in which
Fred id appearing and features a large chorus of male tappers. Fred is great using his cane on the floor to make the rhythms
really interesting. The ‘Cheek To Cheek’ sequence with the famous feathery dress is a joy to watch and also contains
a tiny bit of tap. At the end of the film is the big ‘Piccolino’ number which features a large chorus with Fred
and Ginger. They then realise they can be together and have a little dance to celebrate.
Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) - Not much
tap dancing here and it’s all from Ann Miller. There’s a very short bit in a rehearsal scene and then a bigger
number in a park where she taps very quickly.
White Christmas (1954) - Vera-Ellen is one
half of a sister duo who meets up with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, another duo. Danny and Vera-Ellen perform a lovely duet
to ‘The Best Things Happen When You Dance’. There’s more tap from Vera-Ellen with John Brascia during dress
White nights (1985) - Gregory Hines is an
American dancer living in Russia. During a musical number in a production of Porgy
& Bess he has a short solo spot showing his great tap dancing. When telling Mikhail Baryshnikov hi life story he taps
a little round the apartment. Gregory then has the dance studio to himself and lets rip!
Words and Music (1948) - This film tells
the story of Rodgers and Hart and is full of musical numbers featuring well known stars. The first bit of tap is Ann Sothern
singing ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ and dancing with the Blackburn Twins. We get more of the boys during
a short rehearsal scene, then with June Allyson to ‘Thou Swell’.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - James Cagney
is George M Cohan and this film follows his story. There’s a little bit of tap from Walter Huston, who plays his father,
near the beginning. Joan Leslie visits James in his dressing room and there’s a tiny bit of tap from both. There are
also clips of James performing with the Four Cohans - Walter (Dad), Rosemary DeCamp (Mum) and Jeanne Cagney (sister).
During the Yankee Doodle Dandy show James taps a little to the title song and again
a little later. The next show is George Washington Jr and again contains a little
You were never Lovelier (1942) - Rita Hayworth
falls for Fred Astaire, a dancer, but her father doesn’t approve. Fred dances for her father including tapping on the
sofa and desk. Later Fred is rehearsing with the band when Rita joins him and they perform ‘Shorty George’ followed
by a very fast tap routine.
You’ll Never Get Rich (1941) - Fred
Astaire plays a Broadway director who is drafted into the army. Rita Hayworth is a dancer. During rehearsals Fred dances with
Rita to help her learn a particular bit, then the whole chorus perform the full number. When Fred enlists the girls from the
dancing troupe see him off with a song and dance routine. Unfortunately Fred ends up in the guardhouse but when some of the
others in there start singing he picks up the rhythm and has a little dance, using his camp bed, the walls and pillars. There’s
another fabulous dance in the guardhouse later, to a more up-tempo song. Fred is then asked to out on a show for the men and
asks Rita to be in it. One of the routines is the ‘Wedding Cake’ number with a whole tapping chorus of brides
Young People (1940) - Jack Oakie and Charlotte
Greenwood play Shirley Temple’s adoptive parents. They are a vaudeville team and incorporate Shirley into the act. As
Shirley was 12 years old when she made this, the film uses footage from her previous films to show her growing up. Their last
performance before leaving for the country is all three of them singing ‘Fifth Avenue’ and features some great
tap from Shirley. In their new home she gets all the children to perform in the annual show and that number contains a little
tap. Right at the end of the film Shirley, Jack and Charlotte perform again and tap dance together and separately.
Ziegfeld Follies (1946) - Florenz Ziegfeld
(William Powell) looks down from heaven and dreams about what it would be like to have one last great extravaganza. What follows
is a series of musical routines and sketches featuring the stars of that era. One of these is very unique and one of my favourite
numbers from all these films. It is the only time Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dance together and so is a real treat. They
perform ‘The Babbitt And The Bromide’ with comedy, singing and brilliant tap dancing in a great routine lasting
nearly 7 minutes.