USA, 1984, 107 mins
Director: Herbert Ross

With a pre-recorded introduction by director Francis Lee.

Kevin Bacon plays Ren MacCormack, a city teen who relocates from Chicago to the Midwest sticks, where he finds that rock music and dancing have been banned by John Lithgow’s Bible-thumper. Lori Singer (who beat Madonna to the role) struts her stuff as Lithgow’s daughter Ariel, a sassy missy so keen to kick the small-town dust off her red cowboy boots that, as her friend Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) says, she ‘probably memorises bus schedules’.

A battle to stage a prom ensues, and for once the Hollywood diktat – that down-home values always vanquish city-slicking ways – is turned on its head.

It has you from the get-go: the opening sequence is a toe-tapping montage of variously attired pairs of feet dancing to Kenny Loggins’s title track.

Three decades on, Bacon’s vest-clad set-piece dance in a flour mill looks cheesily 1980s, but the rest of Ross’s drama wears its age well, real song-and-dance joy for the pre-_Glee_ generation.
Jane Lamacraft, Sight & Sound, June 2011

‘Footloose’: a contemporary review

Footloose is a combination of two proven formulae so obviously made for each other that their marriage seems to have been unaccountably delayed: the recent musical tradition of Fame, Flashdance and Saturday Night Fever and the 50s melodrama of rebellious youth and families in crisis (principally Rebel without a Cause). Both conventions are openly acknowledged in a self-conscious updating of motifs and scenes. Rebel without a Cause is the obvious precedent and the film’s major source: Ren/James Dean is the young outsider allied with his girlfriend Ariel/Natalie Wood (the victim of a repressive father) after the ritual of the chicken run (only here, through a nice irony, the hero wins because his clothing is caught in the machinery and he cannot jump clear). The film’s contemporaneity is meanwhile underlined through the imitation of recent successes. Ren’s dance in the warehouse, intercut with a dream sequence, is filmed a la Flashdance (complete with gymnastic pyrotechnics, backlighting, tracking camera parallel to action, and rapid montage on spectacular leaps). Frequent references to Saturday Night Fever (particularly in the final scene) combined with the teenage haunts of Happy Days complete the portrayal of today’s youth.

Interestingly, where the film departs most from Rebel – in its selection of small-town religiosity rather than the family as the repressive force – is where it seems least coherent and confident. The character of the Reverend Shaw Moore, who is eventually shaken by the neo-Nazi activities of his parishioners and challenged by his wife and daughter, does not seem a strong enough figure to have been the dominant force for five years. The characters who directly support his teachings by burning books and the like, Roger and Eleanor Dunbar, remain mere cyphers, and there is little attempt to outline the small-town mentality against which Ren is supposedly rebelling. Within this scheme, the family becomes simply the staging ground for Ren and Ariel’s pained monologues, providing psychological motivation which borders on the fatuous (‘If you could explain to me about my father, maybe I could explain to you about your son …’). The film thus avoids (or displaces on to the musical format) the issues which melodrama usually raises, and trades in analysis for a very obvious narrative design. An obviousness which the set-pieces do little to alleviate: an amusing montage of Ren teaching Willard to dance, Ren’s flash dancing in a moodily lit warehouse, and a finale which despairingly showers the screen with glitter. Ultimately, it is the celebration of teenage frustration as dance which reduces the issues to the level of platitude.
Donald Greig, Monthly Film Bulletin, April 1984

Director: Herbert Ross
Production Companies: IndieProd Company, Paramount Pictures Corporation
Executive Producer: Daniel Melnick
Producers: Lewis J. Rachmil, Craig Zadan
Unit Production Manager: Murray Schwartz
Location Manager: Frawley Becker
Assistant Directors: L. Andrew Stone, Robert Engelman, Donald Paul Hauer
Screenplay: Dean Pitchford
Director of Photography: Ric Waite
Camera Operators: Eric Anderson, Richard S. Walden
Special Effects: James W. Beauchamp
Editor: Paul Hirsch
Production Designer: Ron Hobbs
Set Decorator: Mary Swanson
Costumes: Gloria Gresham
Women’s Costumer: Kendall Errair
Men’s Costumer: Barton K. James
Make-up: Daniel C. Striepeke
Title Design: Wayne Fitzgerald, David Oliver
Opticals: Pacific Title
Score Adaptation: Miles Goodman
Music Supervisor: Becky Shargo
Music Editors: Jim Henrikson, Nancy Fogarty
Choreography: Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Spencer Henderson
Sound Recording: Al Overton Jr
Sound Re-recording: David Campbell, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, David W. Gray
Supervising Sound Editor: Gordon Ecker Jr, wallaWorks
Sound Effects Editors: Robert Bradshaw, Randall F. Kelley, Bob Newlan, Wylie Stateman
Supervising ADR Editor: Stan Gilbert
Stunt Co-ordinator: Max Kleven
Stunts: Robert Allen, Wayne Brown, J. Suzanne Fish, Donna Garrett, Paul Godwin, Norman Howell, Clair E. Leucart, Daniel K. Moore, Lane M. Parrish, Carol Leslie Rees, John-Clay Scott
Stunt Dancer: Peter Tramm
Gymnastic Consultant: Chuck Gaylord

Kevin Bacon (Ren MacCormack)
Lori Singer (Ariel Moore)
John Lithgow (Reverend Shaw Moore)
Dianne Wiest (Vi Moore)
Chris Penn (Willard)
Sarah Jessica Parker (Rusty)
John Laughlin (Woody)
Elizabeth Gorcey (Wendy Jo)
Frances Lee McCain (Ethel MacCormack)
Jim Youngs (Chuck)
Douglas Dirkson (Burlington Cranston)
Lynne Marta (Lulu)
Arthur Rosenberg (Wes)
Tim Scott (Andy Beamis)
Alan Haufrect (Roger Dunbar)
Linda MacEwen (Eleanor Dunbar)
Kim Jensen (Edna)
Michael Telmont (Travis)
Leo Geter (Rich)
Ken Kemp (Jeff)
Russ McGinn (Herb)
Sam Dalton (Mr Gurntz)
H.E.D. Redford (Widdoes)
Jay Bernard (Harvey)
David Valenza (team member)
Meghan Broadhead (Sarah)
Mimi Broadhead (Amy)
Gene Pack (Bernie)
Marcia Yvette Reider (Virginia)
John Perryman (fat cowboy)
Mary Ethel Gregory (Mrs Allyson)
Oscar Rowland (Mr Walsh)
J. Paul Broadhead (Mayor Dooley)
John Bishop (Elvis)
Carmen Trevino, Melissa Renee Graehl,
Monica M. Da Silva, Terry Gay Ulmer (girls)

USA 1984
107 mins

Blow Out
Mon 17 May 17:45 (+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO); Tue 1 Jun 20:40
The General
Tue 18 May 18:10; Sat 29 May 12:45 (+ intro by Stuart Brown, BFI Head of Programme and Acquisitions)
The Shout + pre-recorded intro by Mark Jenkin
Wed 19 May 21:00; Thu 3 Jun
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover
Thu 20 May 17:30 (+ intro by Justin Johnson, BFI Lead Programmer); Thu 24 Jun 20:30
Footloose + pre-recorded intro by Francis Lee
Thu 20 May 20:45; Sat 29 May 18:00
Car Wash
Fri 21 May 18:00 (+ intro by Gurinder Chadha); Mon 31 May 18:50
David Byrne’s American Utopia
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Beginning + pre-recorded intro by Luca Guadagnino
Sat 22 May 11:30; Tue 22 Jun 20:30
Black Narcissus
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The Wonders (Le meraviglie) + pre-recorded intro by Mark Cousins
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Hair + pre-recorded intro by Kleber Mendonça Filho
Sat 22 May 20:30; Fri 28 May 17:45
Magnificent Obsession + Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf)
Sun 23 May 15:45 (+ intro by Heather Stewart, BFI Creative Director); Sun 6 Jun 18:40
Beau Travail + pre-recorded intro by Kirsten Johnson
Sun 23 May 18:40; Sun 30 May 18:20
Mirror (Zerkalo) + pre-recorded intro by Malgorzata Szumowska
Mon 24 May 17:50; Wed 9 Jun 14:30
Syndromes and a Century (Sang sattawat) + pre-recorded intro by Chaitanya Tamhane
Mon 24 May 20:30; Sat 19 Jun 17:50
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Bú sàn)
Wed 26 May 18:10 (+ intro by Peter Strickland); Wed 2 Jun 20:50
The Gleaners & I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) + pre-recorded intro by Zhu Shengze
Thu 27 May 18:15; Fri 26 Jun 14:30
The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet)
Fri 28 May 20:50 (+ intro by Mike Williams, Editor Sight & Sound); Wed 30 Jun 14:30
Broadcast News
Sun 30 May 15:40 (+ intro by Sarah Smith); Sat 19 Jun 20:20
The Elephant Man + pre-recorded intro by Prano Bailey-Bond
Tue 15 Jun 17:45; Sat 19 Jun 12:00
The Warriors
Mon 21 Jun 18:00 (+ intro by Asif Kapadia); Mon 28 Jun 14:30

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
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