Time was, you fancied a spot of dancing in your film; you saw a musical. Now, having inexplicably become a genre in itself, the demand for dance movies has never been higher. Yet it’s fair to say that ninety minutes of backflips, bodypops and contrived interracial romances are not to everyone’s tastes. And so the studios’ uneasy relationship with the dance scene has resulted in many films trying to slip it past us like a musical Mickey Finn. Think Tyler Durden groovin’ to hide Marla from the police. Think Matthew Patel threatening Scott Pilgrim through song. Think Peter Parker tearing up that jazz club in Spider-Man 3. Actually, no. Don’t think that.
Whether it lies in wait for the right song to come along or tucks itself away into the closing credits, the dance scene can still work as one of cinema’s greatest surprises. Listed below are ten of the finest examples ever to have sprung, shuffled or shimmied out of nowhere.
10. Risky Business
Imagine, for a moment, that you are Joel Goodson (Tom Cruise). You’re a teenage boy. You’re home alone. This means, of course, that you’re free to do whatever you want. And so, like any red-blooded male would, you raid the liquour cabinet, whip off your trousers and slide across the floor. All the while lip-syncing to Bob Seger’s ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’.
That the above scene, at just over a minute long, has become the film’s most famous (parodied in everything from The Simpsons to Arrested Development) is surprising enough, but even more incredible is the fact that it was entirely improvised. The script merely required Goodson to ”dance to rock music”. But Cruise had a better idea: in waxing the floor and popping on a pair of socks, he made the leap from preppy teen to the world’s biggest movie star a very smooth move indeed.
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