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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Mini-Reviews of Movies

With Either "Belly Dance"

Or Middle Eastern Touches


Table of Contents

See also the full-length reviews, arranged either alphabetically or by category.




Every time a movie or television show features a belly dancing scene or even just a "harem girl" scene, it shapes someone's attitude toward our dance form. It can be useful to show some movie clips to our students to help them understand the role the mainstream entertainment industry has played in creating public opinion. It can also be fun to watch them, to see how portrayals have changed over the years.

It can be overwhelming to look at Maria's List of over 200 movies, trying to decide which ones to watch in search of belly dance scenes or portrayals of Middle Eastern women. The purpose of the mini-reviews is to provide further information on these movies, to help people prioritize which they may want to watch.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.




The Movies

From Russia with Love

Year Released 1963
Dancer Julie Mendez in the opening credits, Lisa Guiraut (Leila) in the "Gypsy camp" scene
Shira's Feedback I love the opening credits segment featuring Julie Mendez. The "Gypsy camp" dance later in the movie is also fun to watch. Julie and Leila are indeed "real" belly dancers, not just some actresses in a costume.

The opening credits are superimposed over the dancer, for about 2 1/2 minutes. The performance in a "Gypsy camp" about an hour into the movie with about a minute of dancing. Leila's dance scene gives us a real flavor for what belly dancing in the U.S. was like back in the 1960's. (Although Leila herself was British, she learned to belly dance when she was living in the San Francisco area.)


Mr. Wrong

Year Released 1996
Dancer ?
Shira's Feedback Funny dance scene, but overall movie is dreadful

The dance scene in this movie occurs about 10 minutes after the movie begins. Ellen DeGeneres' character is on a blind date, having dinner in a Moroccan themed restaurant. A belly dancer performs in the background while the man blathers on saying stupid things. At one point, the dancer does a backbend over the table and her hair nearly drags in the food. This scene makes me laugh, but it's not strong enough to rescue what is otherwise a dismally bad movie.


On the Town

Year Released 1949
Dancer Ivy Smith
Shira's Feedback Dance scene is entertaining and fun, but disappointingly short.

Three sailors (Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin) come ashore in New York on a 24-hour pass to kick up their heels. One falls for a lovely young lady (Ivy Smith) he believes is a high-society woman, only to discover she is a cooch dancer at Coney Island. The dance scene is the cooch performance, and includes our three fine young fellows dressing up in the women's costumes and dancing on stage.



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