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In Heaven There Is No Beer? (1984)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 23 May 1984 (USA)
A portrait of the life, culture and food surrounding the lovers of Polka music. The title is taken from an old Polka standard. Stars of the Polka world are highlighted.

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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The polka culture in the United States is presented. Largely associated as being Polish in nature, the strong polka culture today is primarily an American phenomenon, it having largely died off in Central Europe except in rural areas. Polka festivals have sprung up across the country, getting longer and longer each successive year based on demand. Beyond its Central European origins, the polka in the United States has morphed, adding other elements, such as other dances including the swing, and religion. Devotees explain the reason they love the culture so much, some likening it to a less dangerous form of a drug. And with a large proportion of those participating in polka and polka events being of the younger generations, the polka "fad" does not seem like it will soon die. Written by Huggo

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23 May 1984 (USA)  »

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References The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) See more »

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"Polka People are Happy People!"
2 August 2015 | by (Florida, New York) – See all my reviews

What? No reviews for this film as I write this? What a travesty! With a title like "In Heaven There is no Beer?", what else could this picture have been about but for the Polish dance tradition known as the polka. I actually caught this on Turner Classics along with some other virtually unknown musical documentaries and was quite entertained by them all. This one hearkens back to 1984, so it's already thirty years old, and while watching it looks almost like it could have been made in the 1950's. Not being critical here, the production company Flower Films almost certainly worked on a shoestring budget and did the best they could with what they had to work with.

Most of the picture seems to have been shot in Polish communities in Pennsylvania, with cameos by easily a dozen different polka bands. Of particular interest to me was whether the Polka King from Florida, New York (my home town) would show up, and sure enough, there he was leading the Jimmy Sturr Band about the middle of the picture with a Rock of Ages medley. Other notable names from the Polka community included Eddie Blazonczyk, Walt Solek, Marion Lush, and Dick Pillar, founder of the Silver Springs Polkabration. I know, I know, the names probably won't mean anything to the casual reader here, but for Polka fans, this is a veritable nostalgia trip down memory lane.

What certainly comes across in the documentary is the sense of community and identity that people of Polish background find by attending polka dances in their own towns, a tradition that seems to be maintaining it's popularity if I can judge by my own observations. I began polka dancing only a few short years ago, and it's a great way to have fun and get some exercise, especially when you start to get up there in age. Referring to my summary line above, I challenge anyone to find a person that isn't smiling while doing the polka.

Like the man sang - "Walter Cronkite's got the news, but he ain't got no polka shoes."


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