6.9/10
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1 user 1 critic

A Night on the Town (1983)

A 1980s photographer and advertising designer trying on clothes in a vintage clothing store find themselves transported to the 1930s.

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John Moffatt
Elaine Paige
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A 1980s photographer and advertising designer trying on clothes in a vintage clothing store find themselves on a tour of 1930s nightclubs. They travel to Berlin, London, New York, New Orleans and Paris, taking part in the unique music and dance of each city. In each nightclub, George (Lewis Collins) finds the same woman--a woman he repeatedly falls in love with. Written by Katya Stevens <kstevens@chisp.net>

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2 May 1983 (UK)  »

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Fun but fluffy, and not for professional musicians or dancers.
28 September 1998 | by (Colorado, USA) – See all my reviews

Except for Frank Gorshin, who gives an agonizingly awful performance (or series of performances) as a variety of 1930s actors, the cast in this light musical are talented and fun to watch.

The premise is that clothing from a vintage shop transports Collins and Reinking's characters back to the 1930s, where they visit five cities--Berlin, London, New York, New Orleans, and Paris--dancing the night away in a nightclub in each city.

Ann Reinking is obviously enjoying herself and Lewis Collins is a surprisingly good singer for someone best known for his roles as military men and mercenaries--seeing him decked out in a variety of tuxedoes, it's easy to believe he was considered for the role of James Bond (a part won by Timothy Dalton). In all honesty, though, Collins should leave the dancing to someone more comfortable with it.

Elaine Paige shows off her vocal range and acting talents with transformations from a Marlene Deitrich-esque Russian countess to a bubble-gum-chewing New York cigarette girl. Eartha Kitt is extraordinary as a madam in a New Orleans brothel, her sultry voice adding depth to the bluesy "Love For Sale." John Moffatt gives a delightfully understated performance as "Cole Howard," a satirical dig at Noel Coward.

The choreography is uninspiring, with the exception of the final vignette--choreographed by a "guest choreographer." The musical arrangements would be passable, except that the harmonies are badly written and manage to show off the actors' vocal talents in the poorest light possible. I imagine it would be agony for a professional musician or dancer to watch this movie.

Most of the featured songs are standards, but often they've had their lyrics altered--something that is more disconcerting than "stylistic" or "clever". I got the feeling that the producers couldn't find the style of music they were searching for, and so chose to modify other pieces to fit the cities they were featuring. A valid stylistic choice, perhaps, but I didn't like it.

I also didn't like the use of Cole Porter's "Let's Fall in Love" to tie each of the nightclubs together. The singer/dancers performing the piece in each milieu were mediocre at best, and the changing of arrangement/lyrics for each club was merely annoying.

All in all, this movie is a light bit of fluff to be enjoyed if you're a fan of Collins, Reinking, or Paige, but most people probably would rather give it a miss.


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