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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 good!

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 rehearsals.

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 tap.

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 and grooms.

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.