Dance Detective: Who chor’ed ‘An Occasional Man’ in ‘The Girl Rush’ (1955)?

Dance · Film
courtesy of doc macro

From Bob Boross:

From the film “The Girl Rush” starring Rosalind Russell, Fernando Lamas, Gloria DeHaven, and Eddie Albert. Matt Mattox is a leading dancer in the film’s four dances. The choreographer is Robert Alton, although Matt told me that he choreographed the film. After examining the dances, it looks as if Matt provided his own balletic turns, and that he contributed a great deal of Jack Cole style movement for the “An Occasional Man” dance. The movement here is too strong to be Alton’s and it replicates Cole’s work. Mattox’s dancing in Cole’s “Havin’ A Heatwave” from “There’s No Business Like Show Business” was from 1954, preceding 1955’s “The Girl Rush” by just one year. Therefore it’s possible that Mattox was drawing on influences from Cole’s dance.

From Debra Levine:

Thanks, Bob. The entry for the girls in sarongs pretty much says it all. That is pure Cole. My sense, in hearing him speak in interviews about it, is that dancing in “Heat Wave” had a strong impact on Matt Mattox. Many of its themes show up in this number. I do believe Matt when he said the number was by him and not by Mr. Alton. That is Matt out front of the boys in sailor costumes — he’s the discernibly taller one. Alton did not typically place individual dancers in space with that much electricity between them. He tended to use groups, or even duets, and link them by their arms, creating clusters … and propel them with a softer edge … although he WAS a speed demon. It’s good that we are thinking about Robert Alton and talking about him. If indeed Matt did this entire number, he was very precocious. It is an ambitious number — and it’s long! And quite well rehearsed. Finally, there’s our friend George Chakiris featured as an island boy dancer with his coal black hair.

Additions to post:

We would like to thank our friend Hilary Knight, who points out,

ROBERT FORTIER, the upfront sailor in the poster for The Girl Rush, above (Mattox is to her left). Hilary states that “I first saw him first on B’WAY IN ”PAL JOEY”…he had more STYLE, GRACE ..LOOKS !!! than any dancer I had EVER SEEN.
He is one of the 3 GANGSTERS in MGM’s CYD number in ”SINGIN,” also in many ROBERT ALTMAN movies. HE is the up front SAILOR in the ” occasional man ”  photo, not MADDOX..”THE GIRL RUSH ” is a PARAMOUNT , not MGM

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