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Tap Dancing in the Movies - Part 3 P - S

Pardon My Sarong (1942) - It may seem quite strange to have an Abbott & Costello film in a list of tap movies. However, this one contains a great sequence from Tip, Tap & Toe. It’s mostly them dancing individually on top of a very slippery table, enabling them to do lots of slides. There’s also some great wings.

Pennies From Heaven (1981) - another fairly strange film to be in this list as it’s quite dark - certainly not your usual sort of musical. Steve Martin plays a music salesman and the film is about him visualising the songs he sells wherever he goes. Firstly its in the bank where he taps with the bank manager and a lot of chorus girls. The next sequence is in the music store where Bernadette Peters dances. In a café Vernel Bagneris sings the title song and performs a soft shoe. Then, in a bar, Steve, Tommy Rall and Robert Fitch launch into a comedy tap routine. The next number is set in Bernadette Peter’s classroom where all the children tap on top of mini ‘pianos’. A little later Bernadette is in a bar and is treated to Christopher Walkern’s stripping tap dance. Steve and Bernadette go to the cinema to watch Follow The Fleet and end up performing a Fred & Ginger number.

Pin Up Girl (1944) - Near the start Betty Grable (the pin up girl) dances briefly with the Condos Brothers, at the club where she’s blagged her way in. Later on in the film, again at the club, Martha Raye sings and dances to ‘Yankee Doodle Hay Ride’. Then the tempo increases and 2 of the Condos Brothers perform some amazing tap - wings at speeds you wouldn’t believe possible! This is followed shortly by a sultry duet with Betty and Hermes Pan to ‘Once Too Often’.

Presenting Lily Mars (1943) - Judy Garland plays a small town girl who dreams of Broadway fame. The final number of the film is ‘Gotta Dance’ and contains a little tap from Judy.

Private Buckaroo (1942) - this is a fairly short film and the tap dancing is near the end. It comes from the Jivin’ Jacks & Jills and contains some great tap, jive and acrobatics.

Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) - Shirley Temple is Rebecca, forbidden by her Aunt to sing and dance for show people. But a neighbour wants her to be Little Miss America and so gets her broadcast on the radio. Bill Robinson plays a farmhand and at the end of the film they get to dance together.

Roberta (1935) - Fred Astaire and his band travel to Paris with his friend to visit the pal’s Aunt. There he meets Ginger Rogers, an old girlfriend, who is posing as a Polish countess. In the first number Fred & Ginger dance together as they remember the old days. Later Fred taps to ‘I Won’t Dance’ which involves an awful lot of turns. The film finishes with them dancing together again, to a mixture of ‘I Won’t Dance’ and ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’.

Rosalie (1937) - Eleanor Powell plats a princess who falls for Nelson Eddy - a West Point cadet. The first tap number is ‘Strange New Rhythm’ where Eleanor sings and taps realising she is falling in love. She then dances in a big sequence, up and down a staircase of giant drums and bursting through what appear to be cling-film filled hoops! We then get a burst of Ray Bolger doing some comedy tap as he tries to cheer up Nelson. Eleanor taps again later whilst pretending to be part of the navy.

Roxie Hart (1942) - Ginger Rogers takes the lead role in this film based on the original 1927 play Chicago. She launches into a tap routine whilst being interviewed by the press and they all end up joining in. Later there’s another impromptu tap dance while she’s talking to George Montgomery, where she dances up and down the stairs.

Royal Wedding (1951) - Fred Astaire and Jane Powell play a brother and sister dance act. They travel to London at the time of the royal wedding. There’s a lovely routine at the beginning of the film but it’s not tap. Fred then finds a gym for a rehearsal room, and as Jane doesn’t show up he proceeds to dance with a hat stand, weights, parallel bars, a vault, a punchbag and some skittles! Leter, at a show in London, they perform the fabulous ‘How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life’ duet. This film also has the famous ‘dancing on the ceiling’ routine where Fred taps on the walls and ceiling of his hotel room.

Second Chorus (1940) - Fred Astaire stars as a trumpet player. Whilst with his band he taps a little, sings ‘I Ain’t Hep With That Step’ and dances with Paulette Goddard. Right at the end of the film Fred taps again while conducting Artie Shaw’s orchestra.

Sensations of 1945 (1944) - Eleanor Powell opens the film dancing with a partner. She plays a singer/dancer who loves pulling publicity stunts. Later in the film she taps in a giant pinball machine, supposedly being the silver ball. Near the end there’s a big number with lots of tapping and acrobatic chorus girls. Then Eleanor comes on with a horse and they dance together (yes, you did read that right!). She finishes the film with some of her amazing turns and spins.

Shall We Dance (1937) - Fred Astaire plays a ballet dancer who wants to tap. There’s a little bit of tap from him at the beginning of the film just before he decides to marry Ginger Rogers character (even though they’ve never met). The film then cuts to Ginger dancing. Fred then does a small tap dance to a record that keeps sticking - he repeats the moves when the record sticks. His next dance, to ‘Slap That Bass’ is pretty great - he’s on a ship travelling to New York. Fred and Ginger dance together for the first time to ‘They All Laughed’. Their next number is on roller skates in the park mixing tapping and skating. The last ten minutes of the film is one big number, cutting to dialogue now and again, and features ballet, tap, chorus girls and, of course, Fred and Ginger.

Ship Ahoy (1942) - this is set on a cruise ship where Eleanor Powell is a dancer. The first number is set by the pool and includes Eleanor tapping her way round it. Next, as part of the ships entertainment, Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra play as we get some great comedy tap from Stump and Stumpy. In another show, Eleanor dances a fabulous matador dance involving some great cape twirling followed by wonderful tapping. Later she performs a lovely dance with four guys, but stops the music to tap out a morse code message.

Show Business (1944) - Vaudeville hopeful George Murphy dances with Constance Moore to ‘It Had To Be You’ when they first meet. They decide to become an act with Eddie Cantor and Joan Davis. There’s various little bits of tap as they rehearse and travel the US performing. One routine we see in full is ‘Dinah’ which is a blackface number.

Singin’ In The Rain (1952) - I probably don’t need to say anything about this film but I will, just in case they are a few people out there who haven’t seen it. As Gene Kelly recalls his early career there is a shot of a boy, Dennis Ross, tap dancing. We then have Gene and Donald O’Connor tapping while playing the fiddle. Donald has a solo number in the ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ sequence which isn’t tap but is completely brilliant. There’s a little bit of tap in the ‘You Were Meant For Me’ number with Gene and Debbie Reynolds. My favourite dance in the whole film is ‘Moses Supposes’. It’s Gene and Donald during elocution lessons and the tapping is wonderful. Next there’s the ‘Good Mornin’’ routine where Gene, Donald and Debbie tap their way round the house. This is followed by the famous ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ sequence - just brilliant, especially as we no know that Gene had a temperature of 103. We get a little more tap from Gene during the Broadway Melody Ballet.

Small Town Girl (1953) - Jane Powell is the girl - Duck Creek is the small town. Bobby Van plays an aspiring musical star. The first number is ‘I’m Feeling Fine’ where Jane and Bobby sing and dance at the town fair. Throughout the film there are little bursts of tap from Bobby as he tries to convince people of his talent, but his big solo number is ‘Take Me To Broadway’ where he dances round a shop. Ann Miller plays a New York showgirl and the tap number from her is the famous sequence to ‘I Gotta Hear That Beat’ with the hands and instruments coming through holes in the floor and walls. Her taps are clear, crisp and very fast! She also performs a Spanish number in very high purple heels.

Step Lively (1944) - at the beginning of the film George Murphy and Gloria DeHaven sing and dance a little during rehearsals - he is a Broadway producer with no money. There’s also a little tap from George during an Arabian number.

Stepping Out (1991) - obviously a film about an amateur tap class has a lot of tap dancing in it! Liza Minelli is the teacher and there are many different class scenes each containing a little tap. The best scenes are at the end when they perform the routine in the benefit show, then it cuts their bigger and better number the following year.

Stormy Weather (1943) - the film opens with Bill Robinson dancing with a group of kids on his front porch. When a magazine arrives he proceeds to tell the kids the story of his life. While travelling to Memphis on a boat he sprinkles sand on the floor and dances with a band also on the boat. During a number where he is supposed to be in the chorus he completely upstages the singer by tap dancing across drums - in sandals! His next number is with Lena Horne and the chorus to ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’. There is also another short dance with Lena and the chorus. Just before the end of the film the Nicholas Brothers perform an absolutely amazing routine which includes jumping over each other down giant steps and landing in the splits.

Summer Stock (1950) - farmer Judy Garland agrees to let Gene Kelly and his company use her barn for a show in return for working on the farm. Gene tap dances around the kitchen and on the table to ‘Dig Brother Dig’ convincing everyone to help out. Later, during a country dance in the barn, the ‘theatrical’ people take over and Gene and Judy end up performing a fabulous duet. There’s a wonderful dance from Gene when he’s alone in the barn and discovers that a creaky floorboard and a sheet of newspaper make interesting sounds to incorporate into his tap dancing. When the show goes ahead there’s more great dancing from Gene and Judy, and the great ‘Get Happy’ number.

Sun Valley Serenade (1941) - A romantic comedy featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra and great skating from Sonja Henie.  During rehearsals for ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’ there is some great dancing by the Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge.

Swing Time (1936) - Fred Astaire, playing a man who needs to raise cash after ‘missing’ hi wedding, opens the film dancing on stage with his troupe. Later he follows Ginger Rogers into the dance school and asks for lessons. After singing ‘Pick yourself up’ she gets fired, then they dance a fabulous duet as Fred tries to prove to the owner how much he has ‘learnt’. Later, after winning a bet to get the orchestra back he and Ginger dance to ‘Waltz in Swing-time’. Next, there is a club performance with some tapping chorus girls who are then joined by Fred in ‘Blackface’. As he taps three silhouettes of his image are projected on to the wall behind him copying his every move but then they start doing their own thing. The whole sequence is just over 7 minutes.