10 user 6 critic

Slow Dancing in the Big City (1978)

An aging out of shape reporter falls for a pretty but seriously ill ballerina.


John G. Avildsen


Barra Grant
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Sorvino ... Lou Friedlander
Anne Ditchburn ... Sarah Gantz
Nicolas Coster ... David Fillmore
Anita Dangler Anita Dangler ... Franny
Thaao Penghlis ... Christopher
Linda Selman Linda Selman ... Barbara Bass
Héctor Mercado ... Roger Lucas (as Héctor Jaime Mercado)
Dick Carballo Dick Carballo ... George Washington Monero
Jack Ramage Jack Ramage ... Doctor Foster
Adam Gifford ... Marty Olivera (as G. Adam Gifford)
Brenda K. Starr ... Punk (as Brenda Joy Kaplan)
Daniel Faraldo ... T.C. Olivera
Michael Gorrin ... Lester Edelman
Tara Mitton Tara Mitton ... Diana
Matt Russo Matt Russo ... Jeck Guffy


An aging out of shape reporter falls for a pretty but seriously ill ballerina.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Slow dancing is falling in love. See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

February 1979 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Ballando lo slow nella grande città See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,335, 12 November 1978, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CIP See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The production shoot for this picture ran for eight weeks. See more »


The name "David Falt" is incorrect, it is in fact "David Fatt" That's with two t's not LT. He can also be found in the credits of "Squirm". See more »


Blue Evening
Written by Gordon Jenkins and Joe Bishop
Performed by Michael Dees
See more »

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User Reviews

Embarrassing failure
27 June 2004 | by LilyDaleLadySee all my reviews

I saw this movie when it first came out (1978). It was a catastrophe -- critically and commercially -- at that time and time has not been kind to it. It's a mark of how badly it failed that it never was even released for VIDEO, let alone DVD, despite the director (John Avildson of "Rocky" fame), Paul Sorvino and some

other good character actors.

Sorvino plays a NYC journalist who seems roughly modeled on TV's Columbo --

he's scruffy, middle-aged and babbles on and on in a way that I think is meant to be eccentric and charming, but actually comes off as purely annoying. He's an "everyman" figure who falls in love with a seriously ill ballerina. I wonder where the concept of the ballerina as the supreme symbol of femininity comes from -- real life ballet dancers are ATHELETES, not simpering fashion models and

injury and disability go hand-in-hand with their art form -- but here it is handled in the lamest and most embarrassing way imaginable.

Anne Ditchburn (Sarah), a real life Canadian dancer who never acted before (or again and you can understand why) has the world's strangest medical condition -- it's something vaguely inexplicable that has to do with her...uh...groin. Or maybe more accurately her thigh muscles, I don't know. We aren't told much, but she's clearly in a lot of pain when she dances, and her dancing bizarrely

includes a lot of splits and arabesques and stuff where she wraps her thighs

around other dancers. So it hurts. She needs some kind of operation but then

she probably won't be able to dance -- not this thigh wrapping stuff anyways -- so she is soldering on through the pain.

That's about it for the plot. She insists on dancing in the "big performance" she is scheduled for, despite the pain, and along the way falls in love (very

improbably) with big, beefy, talkative Paul Sorvino. Now, I want to say that I generally LOVE off-beat romances with oddball characters ("Harold and Maude"

is about my favorite movie of all time) and that's probably why I went to see "Slow Dancing" originally.

But the concept just curls up and suffers a slow death in this badly written, badly directed and badly acted film. There is no chemistry at all between Sorvino and Ditchburn. He really does seem to old for her and the contrast between her tiny, fit body and his big paunchy one is just awkward and even grotesque. There are no actual sex scenes, but you can't help thinking in your mind what they would look like together and...it would be pretty gross.

The worst of it is that Sarah's medical condition (the...uh...groin problem) can't help but have sexual connotations, although none are mentioned, because the

exact part of her body affected would be directly involved in sexual intercourse. You keep thinking "hmmm...he's really a big guy, and she's a tiny little thing who can't open her legs..." and any hope that the movie will be seen as touching or moving or whatever without making you break into helpless laughter is totally lost.

Surely this can't have been the effect the director or screenwriters were going for -- the movie plays as if it's meant to be a quirky but deeply moving romance. Why oh why didn't they make her injury something less awkward, like arthritic knees or a foot injury (far more common amongst dancers and very believable)? Almost any other medical problem would have worked better here.

Like the video companies who had no interest in putting this film on tape, I am puzzled as to who the heck would ever want to view this. Maybe a die hard Paul Sorvino fan? I can't honestly recommend this to anybody else, unless you are a film student wanting a case study example of WHAT NOT TO DO when making

a movie....

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