Today we take a look at an Adrian Lyne film featuring a curly-haired leading lady named Alex, who lives in a warehouse and sometimes destroys property when she sees her love interest with another woman. Yes, it’s
Fatal Attraction Flashdance. Except Jennifer Beals’ Alex is a lot less scary than Glenn Close’s Alex, and Adrian Lyne directed Flashdance four years before he went on to direct Fatal Attraction. But Flashdance has just as much atmosphere as his later films. See for yourself…
First of all, there’s Mawby’s, the local dive bar where Beals performs by night. You know, when she’s not working as a welder by day. Here’s an exterior shot:
The laid-back Pittsburgh locals really have an eye for avant garde dance routines like this one (yes, that’s Cynthia Rhodes, of Dirty Dancing fame):
and this one:
Mawby’s sure seems to have a large budget for ’80s modern sets that change nightly! After work each evening, Alex bikes home to the giant converted warehouse where she lives. A welder by day, a dancer by night, a massive warehouse that’s the perfect blend of industrial chic and vintage flair…
…if she made her own gourmet ice cream on the weekends and used her metalsmithing skills to open an Etsy shop, this would be a Brooklyn success story, not a Cinderella story. And Alex wouldn’t really have her sights set on auditioning for the local dance company, because she’d already have everything she needed and wanted, including her adorable dog Grunt.
But this was the ’80s, and even with neon lighting, vintage mannequin forms and a ton of houseplants perfectly dotting her warehouse apartment, it could have been a bit nicer.
And who wants to do other people’s welding projects all day, even if your boss happens to be super hot and intent on taking you out to eat at the finest restaurants and pulling strings with his arts council friends to get you an audition with the above-mentioned dance company?
After all, we all want to feel like we’re achieving our dreams on our own merit. Which is why Alex dangerously exits the car in a tunnel while out on a date with her boss Nick (played by Michael Nouri). A bad move, but what a great outfit (squint your eyes and you’ll see it above), even if you’re not into fur/faux fur stoles! And speaking of outfits…
Come on–we’ve all wanted to cut the neck out of a grey sweatshirt and lounge around the house like this. Jennifer Beals is lovely in the role of Alex. It’s fun to watch the film and look back at the days when obvious body doubles were used for the dance montages (except for Cynthia Rhodes–yes, she played Penny in Dirty Dancing). At one point, a male breakdancer named Crazy Legs even fills in as Jennifer Beals’ body double during the famous audition scene at the end of the film.
So about that theme song…What a feeling!!! I was about to have a little fun with this one until I learned that Flashdance…What a Feeling was composed by Giorgio Moroder. So that shut me up. Seriously, this song resonated heavily with dancers everywhere. I took a dance class in the ’90s, and this track was still being used as the warm-up/stretching song each week. Thank goodness Center Stage came out and we could all go to dance classes where they played back-to-back Jamiroquai.
I won’t give away the ending of this film, but let’s just say that if Alex and Nick live happily ever after and have beautiful curly-haired babies together, hopefully he’ll leave his all-too-perfect house in the suburbs and move into her warehouse. Now there’s an interesting design opportunity!
So that’s all for today’s ’80s movie style story. Do any of you have Flashdance fun facts or personal experiences to share? Leave me a comment below…
Well, one slightly-less-than-fun fact about “Flashdance” is that Jennifer Beals really did not do a lot of her own dancing in the movie–most of those sequences, particularly the ones shot in silhouette, were performed by a French professional dancer named Marine Jahan, who was–get this–*not credited.* Jahan attended the premiere, and I don’t think she knew that she would be uncredited until the film was finished. As the audience cheered at the end, the choreographer she was seated next to told her, “I’m sorry, kid…but that was you they were applauding.” Jahan’s simple, understandably bitter answer was, “Yes, but they don’t know it.”
I remember reading that as well (but not the quote you added–thank you for this important tidbit). And I found it interesting that a male breakdancer did some of the body double work in the final dance scene of the movie! They definitely pull the camera back whenever there are difficult moves, and it’s funny to think about how easily audiences were “fooled”. Thanks for your comment.
I saw this movie when I was 13 yo, and was very impressed by the lifestyle in this converted warehouse. It was chic and gorgeous, and so fresh to know about the eclectic blend between old and new.
To me, the Flashdance itself seems to symbolize the aesthetic of urban regeneration. The movie tells the story not only about the change of a girl from welder to conservatory dancer, but also about the change of Pittsburgh from the industrial city to the post-industrial city with culture.
More than 30 years have passed and being working as an architect for regeneration projects, I always recollect this movie and the warehouse scene:)
Thank you for your comment, Bart. While obsessively taking screen shots, I hadn’t considered the film’s symbolic element in terms of urban regeneration 😉 That’s an amazing observation, and no doubt an accurate one! Thanks for sharing your expertise and love of this film’s setting and design!