10th academy awards: the lindy hop got ripped off

a couple weeks ago i saw this brilliant clip from the movie a day at the races on twitter. i was blown away (extremely impressed) by how vibrant and unrestrained the dancing is. the dance is called the lindy hop. the song is all god’s children got rhythm

got is a reduction of have got, which is an alternative to have.

a day at the races movie poster

given the reputation the academy awards has had for lacking (not having) racial diversity in recent years and the racist history of the u.s., i was surprised to discover that the performance was indeed nominated for an academy award for dance direction at the 10th academy awards in march 1938. but a day at the races didn’t win.

fun english practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

1938 was the last time the award for dance direction was ever given at the oscars (academy awards). i expected the rest of the nominees for dance direction  to be evidence that while god’s children may all have rhythm, there are levels. definitely none of the other entries, including the winner,  had the heart and energy of the lindy hop–a day at the races definitely got ripped off (they should have won) but i did find some fun facts and some useful vocabulary related to the other nominees.

ryan gosling and busby berkeley

lala land star ryan gosling is working on a project where he would play iconic choreographer and director busby berkeley. (thefilmexperience.net)
  • varsity show is a movie about students on a college campus working to prepare and put on (perform) an annual stage production. this scene was directed by busby berkeley, renowned (famous) for his choreography of big dance numbers (performances) on stage and in films.

varsity is usually used to refer to the first team representing a university or high school in competition.

  • swing is here to stay a song from the movie ali baba goes to town probably overestimated the long-term popularity of the musical style swing (here to stay indicates permanence) but jeni le gon‘s tap dancing and dance moves in general, particularly the toe stands, are spectacular.

the main actor in the scene is eddie cantor, a popular song and dance man of his time.  most modern movie audiences, at least in the u.s.,  would not be able to get past (ignore, accept) his appearing in blackface (his face painted black).  it was a popular mechanism of comedy 80 years ago but today it’s widely seen as an artifact of american racism.

jeni le bon doing a toe stand in ali baba goes to town

jeni le gon executing a toe stand while performing to swing is here to stay
  • americans in the 1930s obviously thought tap dancing was the shit (really cool). the highlight (best part) of the finale of ready, willing and able is this tap dance on a typewriter. (remember typewriters?)

ready,willing and able is an idiom that means totally prepared. willing by itself means with a desire to do.

thin ice, a movie featuring  ice skating legend sonja henie and waikiki wedding starring bing crosby, one of the most famous american singers of the day, were also nominated.

on thin ice movie poster

and the winner was………..

  • a damsel in distress for this scene that recreates a fun house, a traditional attraction at an amusement park in the days before disneyland and six flags. george burns and gracie allen, a husband and wife comedy team, participate in the scene. 40 years later, george burns appeared in three films in the role that defined him for generation x,  god. in part 3, he played the devil too.

fred astaire is still considered one of the greatest dancers in the history of hollywood. this scene from damsel in distress shows him dancing and playing drums with his feet. it’s way cooler than the scene that won.

a damsel is a young, unmarried woman. distress is agony. a damsel in distress is a woman who needs saving. it is a trope (often used story)  that existed in storytelling long before hollywood, but it would not be a good movie title in 2018. it would piss off (anger, offend) audiences, especially women, who prefer to see female characters who are independent and don’t need to depend on a man to fix their problems.

fiona fighting

fiona (shrek’s wife) is not a typical damsel in distress.

are u impressed by any of the oscar nominees from 1938? or was cinema 80 years ago horsehit? did damsel in distress deserve the award for best dance direction, or should another one of the nominees have won? share your thoughts under leave a reply




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