Tom Ryan wrote:I rated it "good" but certainly most of the movie was only average at best. The highlights of the movie to me are Doris's singing, especially the title song and "I Know a Place", and the dancing of Ray Bolger. I agree that Bolger was an outstanding dancer, one of the all-time bests. He had an unusally style of dancing but he was very, very good at it. (I am a former dancer.) I have watched his dance routine on that table top more than a few times and there are one or two steps he did that are hard for me to see how he was able to do them. I don't know if he lucked into it or if it was planned. Definitely unusual.
As a dancer, Tom, rate the following as Excellent, Very good, good, fair, poor:
Fred Astaire -- Excellent
Gene Nelson -- Excellent
Gene Kelly -- Excellent
Ray Bolger -- Excellent
Judy Garland -- Fair
Jane Powell -- Good
Ann Miller -- Excellent as a tap dancer, very good overall
Doris Day -- Very Good
Eleanor Powell -- Excellent as a tap dancer
Bob Fosse -- Very Good
Cyd Charisse -- Very Good
Virginia Mayo -- Good
Nicholas Brothers -- Excellent
Carol Haney -- Very Good
Sammy Davis, Jr.
Ginger Rogers -- Very Good
Ralph, I think you are trying to put me to work here. Do I get paid for this? LOL I didn't rate all of them because I have not watched the dancing of some of them closely enough to be able to give them a rating with which I would be comfortable.
Let me make a few comments about some of those people whom I did rate.
I wish you had asked me to rate Vera-Ellen, as I would have rated her "Excellent". I consider her to be the best female all-around dancer of all time, as do many others. We can use Fred Astaire as a benchmark and see how crisply his partner executes dance steps relative to his execution of those steps. Vera-Ellen scores high in my book for her dancing with Astaire in "Belle of New York".
With this benchmark in mind, I would rate Ginger Rogers as something like a "Very Good minus". She could dance, but I don't consider her to be one of the all-time greats.
We can only conjecture how good Doris would have been had she pursued a career as a dancer. With her athletic ability and rhythm, she might possibly have pushed Vera-Ellen for the top spot.
When speaking of superlative dancers, we should not overlook Lorene Yarnell of Shields and Yarnell. She was a dedicated dancer who was very good.
At the other extreme, Judy Garland was no dancer. This was especially apparent when she danced with Gene Kelly in "Summer Stock". Of course she was having personal problems during the filming of that movie, so we can only guess how much that affected her performance, but what I remember convinces me that she simply wasn't a dancer.
I believe that Virginia Mayo was underrated as a dancer. I felt that her dancing in "She's Working Her Way Through College" was actually pretty good.
Of course Carol Haney had a short dancing career and a short life and was better known for her choreographic work than for her dancing.
Among the others, Bob Fosse showed that he could dance as well as choreograph when he did some athletic dancing (back somersault) with Carol Haney in "Kiss Me Kate", and the "Moses Supposes" tap dancing routine of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in "Singing in the Rain" is an absolute masterpiece and is quite possibly the best tap dance performance ever captured on film. Gene Nelson was a very talented dancer who did some novel dancing, including dancing on a staircase and its railing in "Tea for Two". Not quite in the same class with Astaire and Kelly, however, in my opinion.
Although I rated the Nicholas Brothers as Excellent, I would rather talk about Harold Nicholas because he was clearly the superior dancer. In terms of pure dancing ability, Harold Nicholas is quite possibly the best dancer who ever lived. Of course his volume of work does not compare with that of Astaire because the latter had far more opportunities to showcase his talents, but if they had been equal in this respect, I believe that a careful analysis of their respective performances would probably lead me to give Nicholas a very slight edge.
Okay, Ralph, I have the Index for a book to finish, so I need to get back to my income-producing work.