Rewind...
Rewind...

Flashdance

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I worked as an extra in the Mawbry's Bar scene in Flashdance. I was a customer in the bar and during the costume party scene I was dressed as Abe Lincoln. None of the people I talked to during the filming thought this movie would ever have any success. Only the director seemed to be enjoying the progression of the film. When I heard the story being described, I figured the movie would come out and maybe make a million or two then disappear. Adrian, the director had the last laugh. The movie made more than $100 million before it completed it's initial run. I saw the movie and I had to admit, it had a style of its own. It was the first mass marketing of break dancing. It was the forerunner of most music videos even up to today. It was a major pop culture influence. I was wrong. Jeffrey Hornaday was the choreographer. I talked to him a lot on the set during our spare time. He had been selling sunglasses just a few months before he got his big break with this film. He also worked on DC Cab but this was his big break. Later he choreographed "A Chorus Line." While I sat in the bar (it was a Skid Row building in L.A.) I could not understand the significance of the girl being doused with water while she danced. When the film was released that became a "must" scene for most early music videos. Wet girls became very "in."

-Thanks to Tom Willett

More Trivia from Flashdance
The first glossy Simpson/Bruckheimer (they went on to produce "Beverly Hills Cop", "Top Gun", "Days of Thunder" etc) producer's vehicle (Simpson had just been fired from Paramount as head of production, so he needed a hit as an independant producer), Flashdance is one of those films that is maybe better in the memory than it is on the screen.

It certainly has gloss, with excellent cinematography, including over-done filter usage (A Simpson/Brucheimer trademark), a high octane multi-platinum soundtrack and cliched 'triumph of the little people' type premise. Producer Simpson was one of the first people to recognise and harness the power of the emerging music channels like MTV to publicise and promote movies.

However, when I re-viewed it recently, I was struck by how, when watched again, it seemed like just a bunch of nicely filmed scenes sewn together. It seems to lack the one big ingredient of most classic 80's movies... true heart.

Adorable, cute but fiesty Alex (Jennifer Beals) is an orphan blue collar worker (welder) by day and aspiring (flash) dancer by night. This means that she dances for the blue collar crowd in seedy bars. -Not taking her clothes off, yet still erotic.

What she yearns for is a true career in dance and she aspires to joining an upscale ballet school, but doesn't have the confidence to apply.

When she starts an unlikely romance with the boss of the construction company that she works for, he both secretly helps and also gives her the courage to live her dreams. The concept is typical 80's fairy tale (she even has a fairy godmother in the form of an elderly, charismatic ballerina to give her advice and inspiration), but somehow the heart is lost in the commercialism of the production.

Even the dancing seems ludicrously staged when viewed now. Still the music is great and the director (British born Adrian Lyne -"Fatal Attraction, Nine 1/2 weeks") struggled to impart a sense of atmosphere and almost film noir through the cinematography at times. It just hasn't aged as well as some less likely (or expensive) movies... That's the real suprise here ...

Verdict?

A 'classic 80's' MTV style 'chick flick', for sure, but one that we may remember as being better than it actually seems. Maybe shows the more commercial, exploitative nature of the 80's than the "Live your dreams" part that its trying to copy...? Or is it me?

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Great music, cinematography, style.

Weaknesses? Muddled, sterile film in retrospect.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review Written by Nick:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Nick
Flashdance