11/27/16

THE NICHOL--LOONIES: 'DOWN ARGENTINE WAY'



One of the things that keeps the Nicholas Brother's dancing fresh to this day (aside from the fact that they're break-dancing fifty years before the advent of break-dancing) is the strange way in which, though they're each performing the same steps as the other, they seem just a tad out of sync. This isn't by any means due to sloppiness or human error. Rather it gives their routines a jaunty looseness, a jivey relaxation if you will, and allows each brother their own identity in a sense. Fayard is overtly, enthusiastically athletic while Harold--though every bit the stuntman as his brother--moves more sleekly, with a slyer glint in his eye than Fayard, who appears to be as friendly, enthusiastic and uncomplicated as his brother is cunning. The above clip, from 'Down Argentine Way'--a 1940- something vehicle for Bette Grable and Don Ameche--is quite literally the only footage from that film that remains valid or necessary viewing in any way. But how deeply necessary and valid it is...

 Subscribe in a reader

11/26/16

THE NICHOLAS BROTHERS STORY



Above is a terrific 40 minute doc on the Nicholas Brothers. I have nothing else to add.

 Subscribe in a reader

11/25/16

LITTLE NICHOLAS BOYS



Boy are the Nicholas Brothers young here. The song is called 'Lucky Number' but the clip, though it purports to be from 1936, must be older than that. From the style of the arrangement and the childlike appearance of both Fayard and Harold this strikes me as a solid ten years older to the previously posted 'Jumping Jive' clip (which we know for certain dates from 1943). No matter. These guys were already exactly who they were to become, minus some of the more outlandish splits and splats and swoops that they reveled in later.

 Subscribe in a reader

11/23/16

A NICHOLAS BROTHERS HOLIDAY (PART ONE)



What better way to spend the Thanksgiving Day weekend than by devoting four minutes a day to the Nicholas Brothers and their unbelievable dance acrobatics. Harold and Fayard Nicholas have, in my opinion, never been topped--not as swing, tap or jazz dancers. Here's a clip from the 1943 film 'Stormy Weather', featuring Cab Calloway among others. The movie itself is pretty silly but offers incredible glimpses of Fats Waller and Bill Bojangles Robinson among others. I'll post a Nicholas Brothers routine every day through the end of the weekend. Enjoy!

 Subscribe in a reader

11/22/16

GEORGE RAFT: SISSY BOY DANCER OR TOUGH GUY HOOD?



Last week I posted a wonderfully insane production number from the mostly lost film "Gold Diggers Of Broadway" (1929). (Scroll down to read/watch it).  In it I identified an uncredited James Cagney as one of the acrobatic hoofers as well as the credited George Raft, also hoofing it up pre his gangster persona. Above is another, more detailed clip of Raft's extraordinary dance technique from a 1929 crime drama called 'Side Street'. I can only describe his dancing gimmick as a kind of pre-Michael Jackson jazz-age Moonwalk. This time Raft was uncredited, though referred to as 'Georgie'. The set is an art deco apartment which appears to be hosting a desultory party filled with chorus girls who appear to be clad in slips only. As with these other 1920s chorus lines, the girl's routine is woefully staged and performed but Raft takes it over with great aplomb.

 Subscribe in a reader