Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Gregory Hines, Suzzanne Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr., Savion Glover, Terrence E. McNally
Director: Nick Castle
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Educational
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 10/23/2007 Run time: 111 minutes Rating: Pg13
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Tribute to a Star
Gerald Booth | Alexandria, VA United States | 08/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's strange and a bit sad to watch this movie now. Earlier this week the world heard that dancer/singer/actor Gregory Hines had passed on at the age of 57. In his obituary there was a comment that, while multi- talented, Hines always considered himself first and foremost, a dancer. This movie from the late 80s shows that to be true in all it's wonderful glory. Possible Spoilers..... The movie opens on a man in a cell. The darkness surrounds him and he looks pained. Slowly he begins to listen to the noise around him. Before you know it the man in on his feet and dancing to the rhythms and sounds of the life in prison. The dance is one of pain but also as it goes forth brings out relaxation as anger is spent but most importantly the man begins to feel joy. Jump forward to the man, Max Washington (Gregory Hines) being released on paroll. He has just spent a few years in Sing Sing. Originally he was sentenced for Grand Theft but time was added on for Assault & Battery of a prison guard.
Max returns to his old neighborhood and takes a hotel room across from a run down building which houses the "Sunny Side of the Street" tap dance studio. As time goes on we learn that was his father's studio but first you see the various classes taught on the first two levels by an old love interest, Amy (Suzzane Douglas) and her son Lewis (Savion Glover). The true joy of the building is the third floor where the old "Hoofer's" reside. Here we find a virtual who's who of the tap dance world with many of the old masters portraying themselves and of course Sammy Davis, Jr. playing Little Mo.
Max is not originally totally welcomed back by everyone except for Lewis who looks up to Max as a father, which strongly portrays some of the real life feelings that occurred between Hines and Glover, and Little Mo who has some big ideas of how to get the rock and roll world interested in the tap world. Unfortunately for Mo, Max has a chip on his shoulder regarding the life his father led and the lack of finances that he grew up with. It seems that Max has another family, one in which Max was a first rate second-story man...until the night he got caught and ended in jail.
The movie is one of conflict between the worlds of the alleged easy and plentiful money and the hard work, no glory, no money world of music. As much as Max hates it this is the world that is within him and continues to draw him back time and time again.
Hines was a supremely talented man. He could act, he could sing, and man he could dance like no other. He expressed himself in so many ways that it almost didn't seem fair to the rest of us. Here his character of Max is full of rage and anger. He bears a lifetime of resentment at what he perceived his father's life to have been worth and he knows what he has to do to make it better. The anger is almost palpable as it floats off his body. The look in his eyes and the set of his jaws tells people that he isn't going to take any more. That same rage appears at first in his dance. He doesn't just lightly dance on the floor a la Fred Astaire. He pounds the floor and lets it feel his frustration. He attacks it with percussive beats and syncopated rhythms that make the listeners instantly step back...but then the joy appears. First it come in the way he dives across the floor and moves free for all the world and then it reaches Hines eye's and you know at that moment that all will be well for this man.
The dance sequences alone in this movie are worth sitting through. Hines has most of them starting with the dance inside the jail cell but there are also moments such as the instruction at the construction site as well as the end sequence when he is working with the rock band that are almost hard to sit through. For long time fans of the genre, the "Challenge" segment is a treat as all the old greats get out and show just why they made the business what it was. Also, there is a brief flash of the style from Savion Glover's character at one moment that shows why he was a star at such a young age and gives hints as to his future success with Bring in the Noise, Bring in the Funk!
The world has lost a great talent this week. But movies like this and Bojangles will be around for years to come and will allow fans to share one last time the joy of seeing a true talent at work in his field."
Forget the plot.... See if for the dancing!
Rizzo | Denver, CO | 07/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"See this movie for the dancing only! The dancing. It's difficult to imagine Gregory Hines as a criminal, ex-prisoner, so that portrayal doesn't come off well. He's not that, he's Gregory Hines the tap dancer. The plot sandwiches typical scenes perfunctorily - the release of the prisoner into society, looking for a job, love interest, crime, etc. There really isn't a storyline, just a remanufacture of stale overused scenes. The cohesive element that makes a story work is missing, characters don't build, and it's predictable.But what works is the dancing. See it for that. The film was shot with a smoky sepia-tone image, that impression of both black and white and color. Watch youthful Savion Glover shine! The older hoofers, Jimmy Slide, Arthur Duncan (from the Lawrence Welk Show), Sammy Davis, etc. This dancing ensemble might just be the "best" part of the film. ....MzRizz"
I love this movie, it's in my top 10 fav's
tru2rluv | US | 11/28/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a fan of tap, dancing, good rhythm, toe tapping and cheering on an underdog, you will love this movie also! I think there was genius involved in using all the old greats, including Sammy! The story is a little weak, but who cares when the dancing starts? That's what this movie is all about.....and what a start for a promoting such a talent as young Mr Glover......"
What a Way for Sammy To Wind Down and Hines To Heat Up..
Rizzo | 06/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has to be one of the first movies I ever watched on Cable TV. It was in the early 90s' when I saw this premier on a local TV channel and its' been a definate hit with me through all these years. Along side still powerhouse actor Gregory Hines (Who most recently has been a regular character on Nickelodeon's animated children's series 'Little Bill'), acting/performing greats like Savion Glover and the late Sammy Davis Jr. make this a movie to watch once just for the incredible cast. Hines is Max Washington, the son of a legendary NY tap dancer who, in the movie's storyline, redefined and revolutionized the art. Max foiled his own chance at being a famous dancer when he becomes entangled in crime and retail-burglary. The movie begins with his release from prison. He rejoins old friends (Well, not OLD..just smarter) Sammy Davis others in his NY city neighborhood as they await his return. The story centers around Max's obvious and unmatched talent for tap dancing, and the hard-to-resist need he feels to conform to his old illegal ways over doing something good with his gift. Im an 80s' freak in all ways so I could'nt be objective about the movie, but on top of the great soundtrack and uplifting feel of the story I think this movie would be enjoyable for a lot more people than most would give it credit for. Gregory Hines has a true and untarnished talent that he lends perfectly to the film and Suzanne Douglas as Max's former (and soon to be again) love interest, gives a fantastic performance as Uncle Moe's (Davis Jr.) daughter. I wish they sold this on DVD but I guess it does'nt make all that much of a difference...its' a very wonderfully done Musical/Drama that stands alone for it's originality and all-star cast."