White Nights (1985): Hackford’s Political Melodrama, Boasting Great Dancing from Barryshnikov and Gregory Hynes and Oscar-Winning Song from Lional Ritchie

Contrived to a fault, White Nights is one of Taylor Hackford’s most manipulative melodramas, slightly elevated by Baryshnikov‘s dancing, and Lionel Ritchie’s Oscar-winning song.

When Russian ballet dancer Nikolai Rodchenko (Mikhail Baryshnikov) defects to the United States, he never intends to return to the country he fled from.  However, his plane is forced to land in the Soviet Union en route to Europe, and Nikolai must attempt another escape.

When Nikolai runs into American tap dancer Raymond Greenwood (Gregory Hines), a bitter Vietnam vet who defected to the Soviet Union to protest racism in his own country, the two dancers join forces to help Nikolai escape.

The only reason to see this New Cold War crapy movie is the three or four scenes featuring Baryshnikov and Hines’ athletically elegant dancing.

The three women in the cast, Graldine Page as Barryshnikov’s agent, Helen Mirren as Barryshnikov’s old lover, and Isabella Rossellini as Hynes’ Russian wife, are not given much to do.

Two many writers have contributed to the scenario, which is nominally credited to James Goldman and Eric Hughes, resulting in a shapless, overbaked potboiler that fails to deliver on any level.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Song: Say You, Say Me, music and lyrics by Lionel Richie

Song: Separate Lives (Love Theme from the film), music and lyrics by Stephen Bishop

Oscar Awards: 1

Song: Say You, Say Me