FredricMarchFan

Tommy Rall or Bobby Van or Gene Nelson or Donald O'Connor or Anyone Else?

52 posts in this topic

I'm going with the Nicholas Brothers, who astound me with their athletic dance skills every time I see them.  In a single number, they dazzle by performing the same graceful yet incredibly athletic moves side by side, only to up the dazzle quotient when their dance routine includes brief interludes of each dancing individually and, in so doing, displaying exquisite style and elegance. 

Bobby Van is a high flying artist who at times seems to defy gravity in Kiss Me Kate; Donald O'Connor not only keeps up with Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain's Moses Supposes number but surpasses Kelly (IMHO) with his physically comedic dancing in the Make 'Em Laugh number. 

But for shear beauty, the Nicholas Brothers will always be tops in my book.

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I agree with the wave of praise for Donald O'Connor. I also like Marc Platt and James Mitchell, especially his tragic role in Brigadoon. In a whole different league--Jacques D'Amboise in Carousel--one of the truly great ballet dancers captured on screen. Bob Fosse makes some great dance appearances that hint at the work to come, particularly in Kiss Me Kate with Carol Haney. 

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It is a hard question because there are so many worthy candidates.  Let me mention James Mitchell, who was outstanding as Paul in The Bandwagon and the ballet Curly in Oklahoma.  I also enjoyed him for years and years as Palmer Cortland on All My Children.

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On 6/3/2018 at 7:56 PM, Celine M said:

 

Annex - Caron, Leslie (An American in Paris)_01.jpg

I find this photo of Leslie Caron interesting. She is barefoot. I'm assuming this is from An American In Paris. Did she perform a dance in this costume,barefoot, and I just don't remember? It looks like the costume she was wearing during the party scene, though.  Anyone?......

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37 minutes ago, sagebrush said:

I find this photo of Leslie Caron interesting. She is barefoot. I'm assuming this is from An American In Paris. Did she perform a dance in this costume,barefoot, and I just don't remember? It looks like the costume she was wearing during the party scene, though.  Anyone?......

Yes, this is from the set of An American in Paris. I think it was just a candid shot of her rehearsing before shooting...

Or someone just asked her to pose in the dress for archive purposes.

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I agree with all your choices. Fred A, of course, changed my life, as I trained and became a pro dancer after seeing him and Ginger when I was a wee little kid. I always wondered where was "my" Fred - ha! Gene Kelly was of course also a major influence in my life. It goes without saying Donald was fabulous, as were the Nicholas Brothers. Dan Dailey was great with Betty Grable and of course with Ethel Merman in "There's No Business Like Show Business" and Gene K. and Michael Kidd in "It's Always Fair Weather." Gene Nelson always reminded me of Dan Dailey.

James Cagney was a FABULOUS dancer! So nimble and with such a dominating personality - when he was onscreen, he stole every scene. He made sure you would NEVER ignore him. I enjoyed him dancing with Bob Hope too in the "Seven Little Foys." Bob and those vaudeville veterans sure knew how to hoof!

Danny Kaye was a really fun performer and what an amazing "fast-talking singer" he was. Bobby Van was good and a fun personality, too. Love that incredible hopping number from "Small Town Girl."

I loved seeing Bob Fosse dance with Debbie Reynolds in "Give a Girl a Break.
I find it interesting to see him do the choreography of others, as his own Fosse style developed into a very different one later, with its smaller, more precise and isolated movements of the head, shoulders, hands, hips and knees.

'Tommy Rall had been a ballet dancer and you can tell from his excellent technique, especially in his turns, like in the back alley number with Bob Fosse and his leaps in the "From This Moment On" number in Kiss Me Kate. By the way, Tommy Rall, I think is still alive and has a Facebook page so you might want to "like" it or follow him and let him know that we appreciate his body of work. So many of our Stars passed on before we had the chance to let them know how much their entertaining meant to us so when we find people who are still with us, it behooves us to express our enjoyment and gratitude to them! Because after all, once a dancer, ALWAYS a dancer-ha!

And of course, we can't forget Hermes Pan - because although he didn't appear onscreen very often he was a wonderful dancer, who either choreographed or helped Fred fine-tune his dance numbers.

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1 hour ago, sagebrush said:

I find this photo of Leslie Caron interesting. She is barefoot. I'm assuming this is from An American In Paris. Did she perform a dance in this costume,barefoot, and I just don't remember? It looks like the costume she was wearing during the party scene, though.  Anyone?......

I'm pretty sure she was wearing shoes, it'd be odd if she wasn't.  I found this behind-the-scenes picture and she's wearing white flats.

AMERICANINPARIS,AN_00199634_1134x1464_031620071332.JPG

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I was IN LOVE with Donald O'Connor!!  and Bobby Van! and Gower Champion  of course. (Because they were "Cute!") Now, the More Mature Me can really appreciate Ray Bolger and Buddy Ebson. I always liked Danny Kaye but never appreciated him. Now I watch his weekly variety show reruns on the Jewish Life channel and am amazed at his wealth of talent - the singing and dancing as well as his improv and dialects. Who Knew??

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9 hours ago, StarstruckKidTurnedPro said:

 Tommy Rall had been a ballet dancer and you can tell from his excellent technique, especially in his turns, like in the back alley number with Bob Fosse and his leaps in the "From This Moment On" number in Kiss Me Kate. By the way, Tommy Rall, I think is still alive and has a Facebook page so you might want to "like" it or follow him and let him know that we appreciate his body of work.

Yes, he is still living. :)

My mother had the opportunity to see him when he was with the New York City Opera. Great tenor voice, too!

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Donald O’Connor is great.  In Singin’ In The Rain I find myself watching him rather than Gene Kelly.  He is very fluid and always has a little comedic “wink” to his dancing.  The I love Bob Fosse in Kiss Me Kate when he comes in sliding on the floor.  For a small man he projects a large stage presence.  The Nicholas Brothers are always a joy to watch.  Their hands are so expressive, and every move is beautifully presented.  

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Definitely Donald O'Connor and Danny Kaye. I've seen Make 'Em Laugh a million times, but it's still enjoyable. Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen in The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing (White Christmas) is great, and Danny and Bing Crosby singing Sisters is a classic!

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Ann Miller, Tommy Rall, Carol Haney, Bob Fosse, Jeanne Coyne, Bobby Van in “From this Moment On” from Kiss Me Kate. Choreography by Hermes Pan and Bob Fosse (his own duet with Haney). WOW! Such great movie dancing (and even better in 3-D)!

 

 

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This is a tough one for me as I like so many of the dancers mentioned. But if I had to boil it down it would be, John W. Bubbles Sublett, Bobby Van and Donald O'Connor but the others are just a tap away.

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I've always thought George Murphy was an underrated musical performer. He's great in Broadway Melody of 1938 and 1940 with Eleanor Powell, also in Little Miss Broadway with Shirley Temple and Step Lively with Frank Sinatra among others. He's pretty cute too, but he never seems to get the girl 

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On 6/13/2018 at 9:31 PM, MarkH said:

Ann Miller, Tommy Rall, Carol Haney, Bob Fosse, Jeanne Coyne, Bobby Van in “From this Moment On” from Kiss Me Kate. Choreography by Hermes Pan and Bob Fosse (his own duet with Haney). WOW! Such great movie dancing (and even better in 3-D)!

 

 

Carol Haney was always my favorite MGM jazz dancer.  The only other film that she was featured in as a musical comedy performer is Pajama Game, where she was also featured on Broadway. Bob Fosse choreographed Pajama Game.

 

Bob Fosse, Carol Haney, and Gower Champion were great MGM dancers who became acclaimed choreographers on Broadway.

 

Carol was Gene Kelly's assistant and when he went to Broadway to direct Flower Drum Song, he hired her to do the choreography. Carol went on to choreograph Barbra Streisand's starring debut musical on Broadway, Funny Girl, for which she was nominated posthumously for a Tony Award in 1964.

Gower Champion was the choreographer who won the Tony Award in 1964 for Hello, Dolly. Gower never lived to see the success of his greatest work as the director -choreographer of 42nd Street. He died hours before the opening night curtain. In 1981 he was honored posthumously with the Tony Award for best choreographer in a musical.

Bob Fosse became famous to whole new generation of movie audiences with his autobiographical musical that he directed called All That Jazz, which garnered him an Academy Award  nomination for best director.

In 1973 Bob Fosse won the the showbiz Triple Crown:

* The Oscar for Cabaret,  best director

*The Tony for Pippin, best direction of a musical

* The Primetime Emmy for Liza with a "Z", the best directorial treatment for a variety, comedy or musical program.

Additionally he won 8 Tony Awards for choreography and was nominated for the Academy Award 4 times.

Fosse choreographed Pajama Game, Damn Yankees and Sweet Charity for Broadway and the movies. He also directed Sweet Charity,  his first film, which starred Shirley MacLaine, whom he had discovered for Broadway.

 

If you ever want to get an idea of exactly how Bob Fosse's choreography should be danced,  take a look at a number in Damn Yankees called:

"Who's Got the Pain?"  Fosse dances this number with his wife/and starring dancer Gwen Verdon.

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On June 3, 2018 at 6:54 PM, speedracer5 said:

I would pick Donald O'Connor.  I also love The Nicholas Brothers.  Danny Kaye and Dick Van Dyke are fun too. Russ Tamblyn is great as is James Cagney even though he only gets to dance in a handful of films.  Despite his choice in films, John Travolta was (maybe he is still?) a great dancer.  I also love Patrick Swayze's dancing in Dirty Dancing.  

Um, what musical as Russ Tamblyn in?  I just finishe Twin Peaks and would Love some suggestions.  Thanks!!!

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I'm just getting into these older musicals, thanks to the class. Grew up watching my Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain, Whit Christmas, South Pacific, etc.. Through the this course I've gone to notice the performers' strengths.  So, Fred is dynamite (never seen him before a few months ago on TCM.) Forget the line "Can't act. Slightly balding.Also dances," the guy oozes charisma!!! 

What I find interesting is the talent Poole. Who dances wellvs sings well, vs  Acts, well?  Fred is a triple threat.  His looks have grown on me as he's suave AF and can tap out a tune.  I always loved Gene Kelly, but seeing Fred makes me reconsider my line-up.  Gene sings better, acts better, is better looking.  But, yes lacking that ja na sais quoi Fred's got.

seems like you're either a singer or a dancer +actor, and only the rarity does it all well.

 

freds the best dancer

bings the best singer

franks the better singer

gene can sing, dance, act, he's dreamy but a you know what

 

judys the best singer but she can dance

ethel waters sings like an ang l, better even than judy

ginger can hoof her socks off

rita hayworth ---who knew she was a dancer.. And was she agrees favorite little key I read on Wikipedia?

i read a story that during filing of Singing in the Rain, Debbie Reynolds was crying on set be Gene had been a court to her and insulted her dancing abilities.  So, she's crying and fried just happens to be on the lot that day and sees her crying and asks what's up.  She tells him how rud gene was to her and Fred Astaire personally gives her a dance lesson, right there.  Can anyone corroborate this? Marica?

i also read they want d Fred and Donald oconnor in White Chrismas. By luck if the universe, Danny Kaye was cast to perfection alongside Vera Ellen, Holly woods skinniest waist. But she could dance.  Again in that movie, Bing and arosemary are the singinging talent, while Danny and Vera dance.  Fascinating. 

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The ideal movie musical dancer had/has not only technical dancing ability and style, but charisma and likeability.  I suspect this is partially why superb technical dancers like Tommy Rall (maybe the best of all time?) and Gene Nelson were not bigger stars.  Not that they were unlikeable, but nowhere near that of Astaire, Kelly, Danny Kaye, Donald O'Connor, and Dick VanDyke. 

I beg to differ than Danny Kaye and Dick VanDyke were great or even good dancers.  They both had style, plus  likeablility galore, but merely adequit technique.  If you watch Kaye in White Christmas number "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing", you'll see his socks and shoes and pants are all the same dark grey color. This was to keep you from noticing his feet; his footwork was just passable. 

Same for other musical stars who could move well, but were not accomplished dancers -- watch their feet, if they are shown onscreen at all.  Also pay attention to the difficulty or lack of difficulty of the dance moves they are given to do and the length of time they are dancing without a cut in the film. 

 

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