Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
The Merchant Ivory Collection
Actors: Teresa Wright, Christopher Walken, Geraldine Chaplin, Lou Jacobi, Lilia Skala
Director: James Ivory
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Three interlocking stories set in New York City?s legendary Roseland dance palace make up this charming film, the third to be shot by Merchant Ivory Productions in America. In the first segment, The Waltz, Teresa Wright is... more »
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Eerily accurate portrayal of today's ballroom scene
Paige Turner | Hawaii | 04/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This little known film offers a peek into the world of social ballroom dancing that holds true even today. The disco contest dates this film a bit, but it's fun to go back to when disco was included as part of ballroom competitions.
The movie consists of three small stories, tied together by a main character named Cleo. Part participant, part observer, she appears in all three stories. Each story is named after a particular dance.
"The Hustle" rings true, as it is about a dance escort/gigolo (played by a very young Christopher Walken), who tries to juggle three women in his life. He is kept by an rich, older woman (Joan Copeland), but tries to woo and seduce her much younger, recently divorced friend (Geraldine Chaplin). He was also a former lover/student of Cleo's, who feels she still has some ownership, albeit secondary, with the young man. Chaplin's character tries to make an honest man out of Walken's gigolo, but cannot compete with the perks and money offered by the rich woman and Cleo.
I am a ballroom dancer, and see these types of men all the time. Like Walken's character, these "escorts" are merely users and rather sleazy individuals who prey on rich widows with an eye towards money, security, and gifts in exchange for dancing, companionship and sexual services.
"The Peabody" depicts a woman (Lilia Skala) who is never satisfied with her dance partner, always picking on him or complaining about him. She doesn't realize how wonderful her partner was until it's too late. Shortly after her partner dies, we see her talking to somebody in the restroom, an unknown person, who turns out to be Death. Her time is also limited on earth as well; she desires one last chance dancing in a Peabody competition.
Again, I have seen so many couples in which one partner always complains about the other. I have seen couples openly fight on the dance floor and never agree on anything. It is only when the partner leaves that the complainer realizes what he/she has lost, just like Lilia Skala's character.
In spite of the dated hairstyles, costumes and disco dancing, this film has a timeless quality that holds true today. If you are a ballroom dancer, you don't have to look very far to find these characters in your ballroom community."
Great Unknown Dance Movie!!
Darryl K. Clark | 05/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great underrated,unknown Dance movie that highly recommended.It's a must see flick!!!"
Disco history actually!!
Darryl K. Clark | 09/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this video should be remembered as the very first piece of celluloid to ever record the dance steps of the (then) growing craze of the hustle in disco."
A bed of bittersweet roses
Darryl K. Clark | springfield, missouri | 05/31/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"this 1977 release merchant-ivory production came some years before the duo hit pay dirt with films like 'the bostonians', 'maurice' and 'howards end'. written by co-collaborator ruth prawer jhabvala, it is both aimless and sharp, unfocused and direct but always haunting and thought-provoking.
in its short running time, we get three stories that feature mostly characters that are in their 50s and 60s (a surefire ingredient for box office failure in the 1970s). the first, called 'the waltz', features academy award winning actress teresa wright as a woman that finds a little love and companionship within the decaying walls of the once-luxurious roseland ballroom.
the second, and most linear of the three, is titled 'the hustle'. christopher walken, just two years before he would create his most enduring film character in 'the deer hunter', plays a sleek gigolo-like dancer that enjoys three relationships with helen gallagher (who plays his former dance teacher), joan copeland (the rich widow that is keeping him) and geraldine chaplin (the nervy divorcee that WANTS to keep him). gallagher is fabulous as the tough, exacting dance teacher that drills her two newest protegees while pining for walken. copeland is heartbreaking in her role as well. chaplin keep slipping in and out of her new york accent but she delivers as well. walken is most interesting because he is just about to lose his once pretty boy looks at this point but still produces a slow, smoky heat and danger in his portrayal of an essentially weak and indecisive man (another ingredient for failure in the 1970s--audiences didn't like weak men in their films). his performance is echoed by the presence of conrad janis as a former ballroom dancer/gigolo type.
the film concludes with a segment, in which the sum is not as strong as the parts. lilia skala is in top notch form as a harsh older woman that wants nothing more that to win the prize for doing the best peabody, a ballroom step. her partner, who loves her dearly, cannot keep the pace and dies one night after their last dance at the roseland. she, in turn, cannot give up her dream. she has her last dance with the m.c of the ballroom, a death-like figure with smooth dreamy moves and a too-slick wardrobe.
merchant and ivory produced this film on a shoe string. and while they do show much control over the many elements of the film, it never comes together. it is impeded by an almost muzak-quality score, and the choppy narrative style of the third episode. but the arresting performances of many fine 1970s, new york-based actors, and the incisive camera work on a then rotting broadway will stay with you for a long time after the last twirl on the floor.