Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Come Here Often?: Movie Nightclubs for Swingers and Singers

Watching Burlesque, the preposterous and intermittently entertaining backstage musical that takes place in a nightclub and, like Flashdance, Showgirls and most Elvis movies, likewise takes place in its own special universe, my mind drifted to the movie bars, boites, cabarets, clubs and dives where I'd like to hoist a glass.

Come Here Often?: Movie Nightclubs for Swingers and Singers

Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart at the piano bar in "In a Lonely Place"
Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart at the piano bar in "In a Lonely Place"

Watching Burlesque, the preposterous and intermittently entertaining backstage musical that takes place in a nightclub and, like Flashdance, Showgirls and most Elvis movies, likewise takes place in its own special universe, my mind drifted to the movie bars, boites, cabarets, clubs and dives where I'd like to hoist a glass.

Many of the great movie nightclubs are in Hollywood musicals, like the Art Deco Silver Sandal in Swing Time (1936), where Fred Astaire partnered Ginger Rogers across a gleaming Bakelite floor. Or Rick's in Casablanca (1942), where Dooley Wilson played the piano while Humphrey Bogart pined for Ingrid Bergman and affected an apolitical stance. Or the eponymous Cabaret  in the 1972 film where Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey performed and watched Germany transform from the Weimar Republic to Third Reich. Or The Cotton Club in the movie of the same name (1984), the self-styled "plantation," where black acts (Gregory and Maurice Hines in the movie) performed for white revelers. Surely the oddest of these clubs is either the one in Flashdance (1983) where Pittsburgh welder Jennifer Beals moonlights as an exotic dancer or the one in Coyote Ugly (2000), where Piper Perabo dances with other cowboy-booted bartendresses and drives the boys wild. The ultimate movie-musical bar would have to be Hernando's Hideaway, that dark secluded place where no one knows your face,  in The Pajama Game (1957).

The place I'd most like to have a drink is the piano bar in Nick Ray's In a Lonely Place (1950) where Humphrey Bogart takes Gloria Grahame on a romantic date, although the Magic Club in Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan (1983), with Ann Magnuson as a retro hatcheck girl and Roseanna Arquette as a magician's assistant runs a close second, tied with any of the watering holes frequented by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan in Doug Liman's Swingers (1996).

Which movie bar do you wish were in your neighborhood? Why? What would you order? Bottoms up!

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
About this blog

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected