Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her ...
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Taxi dancer Charity continues to have Faith in the human race despite apparently endless disappointments at its hands, and Hope that she will finally meet the nice young man to romance her away from her sleazy life. Maybe, just maybe, handsome Oscar will be the one to do it. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
In the "Aloof" movement of "The Rich Man's Frug," two of the male principal dancers walk down the stairs to light a woman's cigarette, while the others dance behind them. The background choreography in this shot leads directly to the triangle formation of the next shot, and the two men are now in the middle of the group, although there was no time for them to reach that position. See more »
Shirley MacLaine is excellent in this underrated, brassy musical based on the Italian classic film, NIGHTS OF CABIRIA.
MacLaine plays Charity Hope Valentine, a sweet but rather clueless woman who works in a dance hall but yearns for love. She's constantly linking up with men who use her, take her money, dump her. The film opens with Charity in Central Park with her "boyfriend." Sitting on a bridge, she chirps about making a wish and throwing something off the bridge. The creep shoves her into the water.
She has two wiser-but-cynical pals, played by Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly. They seem resigned to their fates as dance hall girls but there's still an ember of hope for a better life.
Charity meets an Italian film star (Ricardo Montalban) and spend the night with him ... in his closet. She then meets a repressed man (John McMartin) in a stalled elevator and seems to have found happiness at last..... But is happiness in the cards for Charity? MacLaine seems to channel Gwen Verdon (who starred in the show on Broadway and who worked with MacLaine on the dance numbers) and excels in the many productions numbers, especially "If They Could See Me Now" and "Somebody Loves Me at Last." MacLaine also has a spirited rooftop dance number with Rivera and Kelly as they opine "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This." The show-stopper is probably the "Big Spender" number which features MacLaine, Rivera, and Kelly with a line of dance hall girls who try to lure men to be their partners. It's a sensational number that shows Bob Fosse's choreographic skills and also demonstrates the cynical life of a dance hall girl.
Other great numbers include MacLaine and Montalban's visit to the Pompeii Club where the dancers go through a series of landmark Fosse dances. The lead dancer here is the sensational Suzanne Charny. Among the dancers are also Ben Vereen, Lee Roy Reams, and Chelsea Brown.
Sammy Davis turns up the heat with the "River of Life" number which shows Charity and Oscar (McMartin)seeking meaning and discovering the 60s counter culture. Then there's Stubby Kaye as the dance hall manager who throws Charity a wedding party and sings "I Love to Cry at Weddings." This is a hugely underrated musical filled with great music and production numbers. Big, bright, brassy, and brazen, what's not to love? MacLaine won a Golden Globe nomination.
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