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A Tribute to Choreographer Jack Cole

Jack Cole
August 4, 2012 - 7:30 pm
Larry Billman, Academy of Dance on Film; Mitzi Gaynor; Debra Levine, dance critic.

Among the unsung heroes of Hollywood history, choreographers are often overlooked by aficionados of both dance and film. Jack Cole, an innovator of jazz dancing (and one-time dance instructor at UCLA), presents a fascinating case. Neglected in most discussions of dance on film, Cole introduced radically modern ideas and forms to a sphere often treated as merely decorative, choreographing for both bodies and cameras. He infused the dance profiles of such screen personalities as Betty Grable, Mitzi Gaynor and Marilyn Monroe with unprecedented high style and graphic beauty. Tonight’s screening and discussion represent an appreciation of Cole’s contributions to dance on film, and a consideration of the screen choreographer’s craft.

The I Don't Care Girl (1953)

Directed by Lloyd Bacon

This big-screen biopic of the vaudeville superstar Eva Tanguay becomes the perfect point of departure for Jack Cole’s fervent imagination and delightfully anachronistic modern dance conceptions. Star Mitzi Gaynor and company interpret his hyper-stylized choreography to dazzling effect in numbers including “The Johnson Rag,” “Beale Street Blues” and Tanguay’s signature song, “I Don’t Care.”

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. Producer: George Jessel. Screenwriter: Walter Bullock. Based on a story by George Jessel. Cast: Mitzi Gaynor, David Wayne, Oscar Levant, Bob Graham, Craig Hill.

35mm, color, 81 min.