Been Rich All My Life

Been Rich All My Life


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The rhythm of life is a powerful beat - and this affectionate and revealing documentary is sure to get even the most world-weary feet tapping.

The Silver Belles are dancing dames with a difference. Marion Coles, Fay Ray, Cleo Hayes, Elaine Ellis and Bertye Lou Wood will not see 80 again and yet these former chorus line girls - who wowed the crowds back in the thirties - are back together again, sharing their love of music with each other and a whole new audience.

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Director Heather Lockwood has created a perfectly choreographed documentary, which is a celebration both of the ground the chorus girls broke back before many of our parents were even born and of keeping your verve, wit and friendships into old age.

Bertye Lou - 96 at the time the filming began - doesn't dance any longer but she still cheers the others on from the sidelines. Lockwood's camera watches as they shake it like they used to and pass on their tricks of the tap-dancing trade to the younger generation. They have "seasoning in their steps," says one and that seasoning is certainly hot.

Their vitality leaps out of the screen and you wonder how it is that we live in a society where so many old folk are undervalued and ignored.

The women's dancing of today is intercut with reminiscences of the past, from the ignominy of having to eat in 'black only' canteens on the US Army's tours of the late 40s to a successful strike for better pay and conditions.

The vintage footage adds breadth - particularly when it includes the Silver Belles in their former glory. And there is personal sorrow here, too, as age takes its toll on their number. At the risk of sounding trite, you'll laugh and you'll cry and by the end of this toe-tapping prance through the world of the chorus line girls you'll emerge with a warmth in your soul... and possibly the urge to tap dance.

Near the beginning of the film one of the dancers confides: "I still get a kick out of it." So will you.

Reviewed on: 09 Sep 2006
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Chorus line dancers recall their past and celebrate their present.
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Director: Heather MacDonald

Writer: n/a

Starring: Bertye Lou Wood, Marion Coles, Fay Ray, Cleo Hayes, Elaine Ellis

Year: 2006

Runtime: 81 minutes

Country: US


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