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5 Movies From The 1990s That Made Swing Music Sexy As Hell

Because Christian Bale.

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Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection / Via The Black Maria

OK, so: being a teenager in the 1990s was pretty much awesome. Not the fashion part, of course (we're looking at you, stirrup pants and jelly shoes) but the movies and music and TV that came from that decade were, well, just plain fun.

It was also, as fellow '90s alums no doubt remember, a great decade for swing music. In a surprising renaissance, swing music of the 1930s and '40s resurfaced somewhere in the early 1990s and lingered in popularity for much of the decade. The moves your grandparents made on the dance floor were suddenly ... well ... hip! The resurgence of swing music was exciting, fresh, glamorous (Oxford Shoes and Victory Rolls!) and the challenge to master it made for some fantastic competition.

Here are 5 movies from the '90s that helped make swing music wickedly popular--and sexy as hell.


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Forget the plot, just watch it for the are-you-shitting-me-how-did-they-do-that dancing. (Oh, yeah, and for the super young and super hot Christian Bale and Robert Sean Leonard. )


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Swingers was, and always will be, SO money. The film brought the words "Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" and "Cherry Poppin' Daddies" into the public vernacular ... not to mention Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughan and Heather Graham.


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The movie every 12-year-old girl fell in love with in 1992 also features a stellar swing number with Madonna doing what she did best: tearing it up on the dance floor. It's highly doubtful that some of the dirtier movies were, uh, authentic to the period, but ... whatever. It's awesome.


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The fact that my granddad, a WWII vet, walked out of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor but bought a copy of Memphis Belle on VHS says a lot. Swing music has nothing to do with the film, but in this scene from the war drama, the boys enjoy one last night of free abandon, with Harry Connick, Jr. leading them all in a rousing rendition of “Danny Boy”. (And awww, baby Harry Connick and Sean Astin ... )


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OK, so this movie wasn't exactly Oscar bait, but the swing dance number between a gosh-oh-shucks Brendan Fraser and two Hollywood hotties is totally adorbs. (And in case you're wondering: I chose to include Blast from the Past rather than the Jim Carrey/Cameron Diaz dance sequence from The Mask because I'm something of a purist and that routine is more special effects than real swing.)

Bonus Track: Helzapoppin (1941)

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As spectacular as those moves were, they pale to the original. Here's a clip from the 1941 film Helzapoppin with Lindy Hoppers at their mind-bending best. Watch the Old School school the New School.

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