(1980)4Michael BetzoldPreceded by Saturday Night Fever and followed by Footloose and Dirty Dancing, Fame is one of the best films focused on dance as a metaphor for success and maturation. Director Alan Parker, showing unusual restraint, shepherds a heartwarming story of rough New York teenagers who grow up while attending a performing arts high school. Their talent at dance enables them to transcend their backgrounds, their sometimes terrifying social milieu, and their own shortcomings. It's a vision of ethnic and social harmony achieved through effort at a craft that in some ways parallels youth sports movies. Dancer-singer Irene Cara is the star, and the film launched her (short-lived) singing career. The music and the dancing are spectacular, helping to overcome a story that, despite a few directorial risks, is fairly predictable. Fame is a well-made feel-good movie.