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"Slow Dancing in the Big City"


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#1 dirac

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 02:56 PM

This is a theatrical release from 1978, starring Paul Sorvino as a Breslinesque columnist who falls in love with a dancer, played by Anne Ditchburn of the National Ballet of Canada. It is currently being shown this month on Showtime's family channel and is worth catching if you're curious Ė it doesn't show up too often, I hadn't seen it for years. The dancer moves into the apartment next door to the columnist, and as it happens she is suffering from something, I forget the name, that inflames her tendons and is affecting her central nervous system and will cause her to fall off the perch if she doesn't stop dancing and let the doctor operate pronto, but she is dancing the lead for the company's forthcoming debut at Lincoln Center, etc., etc. The ballerina has extended conversations with her parakeet, whose name is Orville Wright. It's that kind of flick. Movies like this can be a lot of fun if they work, which this one doesn't. There are some nice shots of the city, however.


Be warned that "Slow Dancing in the Big City" is pretty awful -- although it exerts a weird fascination for this viewer-- so don't expect much. It was directed by John G. Avildsen, fresh from "Rocky," but he was not to enjoy the same success as with his previous outing, to put it mildly; this one bombed and for good reason. Sorvino and Ditchburn are an unexpected pairing, not in itself a bad thing, but it doesn't pay off here. Sorvino's constant New York yak-yak is intended to be charming but comes off as annoying, and he has weight issues that require him to stay in a trench coat for most of the movie. (I say this with regret, as he's a favorite of mine.) Ditchburn has a tiny affected voice and a tiny affected pout, but although she's no actress I'm not sure I don't prefer her to Neve Campbell Ė at least she's a real dancer, and I am an advocate of casting dancers as dancers even if they're not going to win any Oscars.


The big ballet is a modern/ballet fusion called "Forest Dreams" choreographed by Robert North to a score by Bill Conti, and it's not good but not a total disaster. Ditchburn has a solo of her own composition on the apartment rooftop, and does a frantic barre to Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" in her boyfriend's ritzy apartment. Hector Jaime Mercado is the ballet's male lead, and I spotted Helene Alexopoulos in the rehearsal scenes. Florence Fitzgerald is listed in the cast.

#2 drbacc

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 02:56 PM

A TRIBUTE TO Anne Ditchburn and Paul Sorvino - SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY 1978--Anne, referred to as the "divine ballerina" in a movie review, was given leave from the National Ballet of Canada---Ann Ditchburn in Canadian Ballet, Anne in the movies. SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY (1978) "has so much heart John Avildsen's aorta is showing." It features a "lovely dancer and choreographer"..."what's a shame about Slow Dancing in the Big City is that somewhere on the cutting room floor probably is a fine movie." Variety Magazine, Jan. '78. [Paragraph] These ideas crystallized since first seeing the movie, and hopefully, serve as a counterpoint, as least, providing an alternative view to a barrage of criticisms. With copycat criticisms gaining momentum through a "tyranny of consensus," a kind of wolfpack mentality developed; (none on this website) some being very insightful and constructive, others, willfully malecious and hateful. One thing that always bothered me and became the ultimate mystery of the movie, was the cynacism and vehement criticism inflicted on this movie, especially the ballerina, without justification or mentioning any of its' many redeeming qualities. And criticism it does deserve, let's get that straight up front. You know the movie is off track when they create a troubled 8 year old, pointedly fowl-mouthed and made to be despised by unrealisticly giving him the street smarts and mouth of a 20 year old gang leader.. [Paragraph]This movie reminds me of the national Inquirer, everyone puts it down, yet millions can't put it down. Even the ones who love it go through the obligatory apologies, give it a hard time, only to surprise you in the end, confessing they are fascinated by it, accept it as a "guilty pleasure," and confess they will view it again. I know I will. There are a lot of suckers for this movie, because the theme is universal, boy meets girl, a touch of the wrong side of the tracks, and no one needs a psychology course to understand why this lovely ballerina set her admiirer's heart aflutter in a New York minute,....(to be continued, soon)

Edited by drbacc, 01 September 2005 - 05:45 AM.


#3 dirac

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Posted 10 December 2004 - 04:05 PM

There is something in it for everyone.


Well, maybe not for Steven Seagal. :D

Drbacc, thank you for reviving this thread. I thought I was all alone out there. :) I agree with you about Bill Contiís score, and I ought to have mentioned how distinctive it is (if Iím not mistaken, the LP became a collectible). Youíve also solved a mystery for me. I noted in Karen Kainís autobiography that she spelled Ditchburnís first name without the E, and I wondered about the discrepancy.
I was happy to have the opportunity to see Ditchburn, too. I had been curious about her because the Seventies was not exactly an era crawling with women ballet choreographers, and it was nice to have the opportunity to see a little bit of her work. As a dancer, she was interesting to watch Ė long, rather flat torso, legs a teeny bit stocky, on film anyway, and a rather exotic quality, as you note. Didnít much care for her acting, although granted it was her first time out. (Voice lessons would have been in order.)


I also love the Seventies outfits she wears Ė the long skirts and coats with boots, always a favorite combination of mine. In any case, Iíve seen this on cable several times, and Iím sure Iíll probably watch it again. Itís one of my guilty pleasures.

#4 drbacc

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Posted 11 December 2004 - 10:09 PM

There is something in it for everyone.


Well, maybe not for Steven Seagal. :)

Drbacc, thank you for reviving this thread. I thought I was all alone out there. :) I agree with you about Bill Contiís score, and I ought to have mentioned how distinctive it is (if Iím not mistaken, the LP became a collectible). Youíve also solved a mystery for me. I noted in Karen Kainís autobiography that she spelled Ditchburnís first name without the E, and I wondered about the discrepancy.
I was happy to have the opportunity to see Ditchburn, too. I had been curious about her because the Seventies was not exactly an era crawling with women ballet choreographers, and it was nice to have the opportunity to see a little bit of her work. As a dancer, she was interesting to watch Ė long, rather flat torso, legs a teeny bit stocky, on film anyway, and a rather exotic quality, as you note. Didnít much care for her acting, although granted it was her first time out. (Voice lessons would have been in order.)


I also love the Seventies outfits she wears Ė the long skirts and coats with boots, always a favorite combination of mine. In any case, Iíve seen this on cable several times, and Iím sure Iíll probably watch it again. Itís one of my guilty pleasures.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Please see my edited version and comments at the end. Any time in the future you see this movie coming on, please let me know. I may want to put it directly on dvd but don't have the capability this minute. And yes, in the opening scene, working out without make up, she appeared to have very athletic legs. A producer she worked with in another movie noticed this and referred to her firmness--like steel or something to that effect. A lot of things have to come together just right to make a ballet dancer, I guess. Do ballet dancers exercise other than practicing the dance and stretching, etc? Do they ever lift weights or exercise in other ways to gain strength or endurance?

Edited by drbacc, 12 December 2004 - 04:27 AM.



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