Nick Castle’s “Tap”

(there really are very few photos available from the film itself.)

Ah, Tap.

Sure, one could talk about Nick Castle’s direction – which bathes the film in a nostalgic, dusty mood even in the low, neon lit nightclubs – or Gregory Hines bountiful charisma, but when you get right down to it, there’s one element above all that stands out. It’s the backbone of the film, and that – really – all else is secondary to.

It’s the dancing.

All of the largest names in Hoofing’s long and varied history are here, in this film.  Steve Condos, Sandman Sims, Jimmy Slyde, the Nicholas Brothers – even a young, clean-shaven Savion Glover. This isn’t a film, so much as a showcase of inimatible talent both old and (at the time) new. It knows this. It doesn’t need to be reminded. That’s the joy of it.

And, in those scenes, Castle makes the wise decision to keep the cutting to an absolute minimum – in particular, one of the earlier sequences that brings (almost) everyone together for a challenge in the top floors of the Dance Studio. While there’s nothing to be said here for innovation, it takes a methodology of ‘we’re just going to sit back, and watch, and let them do their thing.’

While certain scenes and elements certainly do give off a feel that can defensibly be called ‘dated’ – any of them featuring the muscled house musician/technician with appropriate pony-tail and shiny blouse come to mind (“Yo’, I rigged up ‘dese taps to ‘dat machine and, like, BOOM.”) – these elements are inconsequential and don’t do any unforgivable damage to a film that, like a teenage boy, only has one thing on its mind.

So, without any further ado – because, what else is there to go on about, really? – this is what you came to see.


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