Take your passion…And make it happen!

I’m at it again.  This time it is 1983’s “Flashdance”.  You know the one where Alex (Jennifer Beals) is a welder in a Pittsburgh steel mill and a dancer at Mawby’s Bar.  I hesitate to call her a stripper, because she never really takes her clothes off.  But her real dream is to study at the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance.  This movie has some great songs like What a Feeling by Irene Cara, Maniac by Michael Sembello, Lady, Lady, Lady by I don’t remember who, Gloria by Laura Branigan (I really loved this song and in fact I owned a Laura Branigan cassette.  Apparently she passed in way in 2004 of a brain aneurysm. I did not know that.)  Oh, and I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is by Kim Carnes.  Remember her?  She had this really deep, husky sexy voice.  Whatever happened to her?  Didn’t she also sing Betty Davis Eyes?  I think yes. 

I had one major problem with this movie.  It’s not the music and it’s not the fashion.  Truth be told, the clothes were not that bad.  Well, except….well…there is this one outfit but I’ll talk about it later.  Some of Alex’s outfits you could actually see on the streets of Pittsburgh today-the straight leg jeans with the high heel pumps, mini skirts with leggings and converse sneakers.  I don’t know about you, but these items are all staples of my current wardrobe.  I think leg warmers have even made a comeback. 

Then of course there is THE LOOK.  Who didn’t run home and immediately cut the neck out of all their sweatshirts.  Just a little side note here:  my friend, let’s call her Cher, almost lost her life because of the torn sweatshirt look.  If you know her, just ask, she’ll tell you all about it.)  Supposedly, Jennifer Beals came up with that look herself.  Thank goodness those shiny Lycra workout bodysuits have not made a comeback.  Yuck.  (At least I don’t think they’ve made a comeback.  Haven’t been in a gym in awhile.)

All the dancers are wearing those shiny things during the work out scene and I think I Love Rock-n-Roll by Joan Jett is playing.  Tina Tech (played by Cynthia Rhodes, who was in fact, a real dancer-watch for her in my upcoming “Dirty Dancing” review) is whining about whether some guy will call or not.  (So glad I never did anything as pathetic as that.  Geez.  Get a life.)  Alex keeps telling her he’ll call, he’ll call, he’ll call.  And the black dancer tells her to call him and then she says something about how she is sooo glad she’s not a honky!  How funny is that?   I’ve never heard anybody in real life use the word honky.

So this brings me to my major problem with this movie:  WIGS!!!    They looked they were from the Little Richard Wig Collection.  We all know that Jenny B didn’t do her own dancing.  I have no problem with that. Could they not find a dancer with naturally curly hair?  Was this person not available?  He’s about the same size, can dance and has naturally curly hair. 

Anyway, the wigs are sooo bad and they look like they are about to fall off at any moment.  If you have not watched this movie in awhile, you should watch just to check out the wig situation.  I never noticed when I was younger but now it is so obvious to me.

I will move on from the wigs to Michael Nouri.  He plays Nick, Alex’s boss at the steel mill and they end up falling in love even though he is old enough to be her father.  But he has a Porsche so who am I to argue with true love.

On one of their dates, they go to watch Jeanie (Alex’s best friend) skate.  This is a dance movie so I don’t know why they had to have a ice-skating, but whatever.  Jeanie has been training for like two years to make into the Ice Capades and everything seems to be going well until she pulls a Tonya Harding and falls on her ass.  Everyone is really sad and trying to comfort her.  She’s all worried about what her Dad will say and he says something about how he’s never loved anybody as much as he loves her at that moment.  Puhleez…where is Jeff Gillooly when you need him?

Another favorite scene is after Alex sees Nick at the ballet with his ex-wife and then she goes to his house on her bike.  And throws a rock through one of his windows.  This scene is pretty funny because I kept thinking how can you make a quick getaway on a bike?  It’s hard enough in a white Honda Prelude.  I’m guessing.  I wouldn’t really know.  But a bicycle?  I don’t know how she did it but she did.  Then the next day at work he is trying to buy her a sandwich from the lunch cart and she is like “No, I don’t want you to buy me a sandwich and I don’t want you to buy me, period.”  And they are arguing back and forth. Trudy, the lunch cart lady, makes the funniest expressions like she wants to say “I’m so glad I’m not a honky.” 

Nick can’t figure out why she is so pissed and mentions that he is not having a good day because of the broken window and she tells him it was her.  And Nick is all like why and that cost me $180.00 bucks and I had special order it.  Then Alex says “Who’s the blonde in the white dress?”  And Nick has that deer in the headlights look that all men get when asked about “the blonde in the white dress” and then, like, duh, he remembers that he went to the ballet with his Ex Wife, who happens to be blonde and wearing a white dress.  He tries to explain how they are on the Arts Council and see each other once a year for this event.  Yada, yada, yada.  So Alex forgives him.  They kiss and make-up in front of all the construction workers or steel mill workers or whatever they are.  They just look like a bunch of dirty guys eating their lunch who cheer when Alex and Nick kiss.  Oh, the good old days when the 40-something boss could boink his 18 year old employee and nobody called foul or sexual harassment or Gloria Allred.

Okay, so here is my favorite scene.  Let me break it down for you:

It is the restaurant scene with the lobster.  You all know what I’m talking about.  I just knew I was not going to use this scene because it makes me soooo uncomfortable with all the sucking, the slurping, and tongue wrestling of the lobster.  This scene really turned me off lobster.  I mean I will not be making a run for the Lob anytime soon. 


Not to mention the dialogue here. 

“How’s the lobster?” 

“It sucks.” 

“Want some of mine?” 

“I’m not hungry.” 

“Whatever turns you on.” 

“What turns you on?” 

“Do you like phone booths?” 

OMG.  Then she has her foot in his crotch.  Yikes.  But I have to say she had on some really cute lace tights. 


 I was so worried about the butter stains on her clothes and then she takes her jacket off.  Anyone remember this????  She has on one of those paper bib things that just looks like a tuxedo shirt and is held on by those little elastic bands and even has little matching paper cuffs.  At first I thought that is really stupid but then I realized this is really quite smart.  I mean if you are going to be slurping and sucking lobster soaked in butter your chances of getting a stain are pretty good.  And we all know how hard those butter stains are to get out.  You know you still eat butter.  Don’t you?  So if you get a stain you just throw away your paper shirt and put on a new one.  I think the fashion industry has missed the boat on this one.  I mean disposable clothing has been around for a long time and no one is trying to market it for grown ups. Hello, people, disposable diapers.


Okay, so then we get to meet the Ex Wife.  You know “the blonde in the white dress”.  She looks like some sort of Russian Czarina or 70’s super model with that fur hat and the crimped hair and the air of superiority.  Why is she wearing a fur hat in a restaurant?  I know Pittsburgh is cold, but seriously.  I think her name is Katie, but I am going to call her Katarina. Here is where the dialogue gets good.  The Ex Wife says something about the first date and did he take her to the steel mill?  He always does.  Then Alex says “yes and I f—– his brains out.”  And then Katarina says, very smugly, as she looks at Alex sitting there in her paper shirt with butter dripping off her chin and her lace clad foot in Nick’s crotch, “Obviously you did.”  Brilliant.  Best line of the whole movie.


I almost forgot something else I liked about this movie.  Alex was Catholic and she goes to confession two times.  As some of you may know, I always wanted to be Catholic.  Cher, my friend, not the singer, always wanted know why Catholic and I never really knew.  We did not attend church when I was a child so most of my experience with church was through books, movies or TV.  And there seemed to be something special about being Catholic.  I think I know now that it was because there were a lot of outward symbols that you were Catholic-you know the stand-up, sit down, fight, fight thing they do in church, crossing yourself, confession, rosaries, cute little cross necklaces and the saint necklaces (love those), crucifixes, and the Virgin Mary just to name a few.  At that time I had no idea about the spiritual part so I thought the rituals and symbols were cool.  I didn’t intend to bare my soul here or offend any Catholics.  I still think Catholics are cool.  So I will move on.


The first confessional scene she confesses that she has been thinking about sex a lot, I mean “how can you not?” she says.  


The next confession is after Hanna (she was Alex’s mentor and dance teacher) dies and she’s all crying about how she wants so much and she’s not sure if it’s every gonna happen.  All well and good but we don’t get to see what her penance is.  What I thought would be funny is if the priest was Gene Kelly and her penance was like some really difficult dance moves.  Something like this:  “Your penance is twenty Hail Mary’s, forty  arabesques, sixty pliés, eighty rond de jambes and may God have mercy on your soles.”  Hee, hee.  See, what I did there?  Soles instead of soul.  I crack myself up.

This movie is still good after all these years if you can get past the wig situation.  I’m trying. 

Of course the final scene is awesome.  Alex auditions even after she found out that Nick pulled a few strings.  There is no way I can do this scene justice so I found this clip:


So watch and enjoy.

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    ckd said,

    Thanks again JD. I laughed the loudest about Alex’s penance.

  2. 3

    Heidi Saxton said,

    I remember being intrigued by Catholics when I was a kid, specifically my cousins who made out like BANDITS on their First Communion, and who always crossed themselves when they said grace. (I tried to do that once, and my mom nearly had a heart attack on the spot. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?” You’d have thought I’d peed on the table or something.)

    By the time I was in my 20s, and had gone through Bible school, I had come to the conclusion that Catholics were going to hell, and the pope was the Pied Pieper of Perdition.

    Then, in my 30’s … I became Catholic. You can read the story here: http://silentcanticle.stblogs.com/2007/02/26/church-girl-runs-home/

    And my “Mary story” here: http://beholdyourmotherbook.blogspot.com/2008/04/mary-mother-of-all-not-just-catholics.html

    Blessings, Heidi

  3. 4

    jillie26 said,

    Thanks Heidi. I can’t wait to read your stories.

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