A middle-aged woman finds herself simply a widow, a grandmother and a person when a friend takes her to the Stardust Ballroom, a dance hall which recreates the music and atmosphere of the 1940s. There she encounters a most unlikely Prince Charming, a middle-aged mailman. With this encounter, life takes on a new meaning for the film's heroine. Written by
In 1998, a new stage version was created for the Lincolnshire Theater in Chicago. This version, once again titled "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom," used some elements from the short-lived 1979 Broadway version ("Ballroom"), but it restored several songs from the TV production as well focusing more on the personal narrative than the dance numbers. See more »
The pacing is overly rapid in certain places, Bea's sister and daughter are painted with a cartoonish brush, but the film manages to be genuinely moving and poignant throughout.
We are never asked to condone every change Bea makes; only to understand. Maureen Stapleton's human, subtly-keyed performance is the perfect centerpiece. Charles Durning is also wonderful in a role many actors would coast through. Once you see him here you'll never think of him in quite the same way again. These characters are so real, so everyday, that we can feel their joy and sorrow in ways cardboard types can't transmit.
The singing is jarring at first, but their shaky voices add to the realistic undertone of the fantasy.
Bea's unapologetic stance in her relationship with Al typifies the 70's and the 70's willingness to shake off conventions; I'm not sure if this tv-film would be made today with the same viewpoint.
I loved the atmosphere of the Stardust Ballroom, the different relationships and the nostalgia for days gone by. Bea comes alive in a room where most are trying to relive their past glories.
Flawless it may not be, but if you want to believe in love, in having a second chance at life no matter what your age is, this is the film to see.
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