Shadows in the Sun

(also known as The Shadow Dancer)


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

An uptight corporate book editor flies from London to a small town in Tuscany with the mission of enlisting a reclusive Salinger-style former writer to end two decades of literary abstinence. While the city boy is in Italy:

     * The simple and warm people of Tuscany melt the editor's frosty uptight city ass.

     * The editor learns much about writing from the crusty old writer, enough to rediscover his own desire to write.

     * The editor also learns much about life from the legendary writer. The two men form a relationship very similar to that of the lusty Zorba and the shy Basil in Zorba the Greek, so similar in fact that the two men even have a variation on the "teach me to dance" scene. In another classic Zorbaesque scene, the lusty writer offers to sign the contract if the uptight editor will kiss his ass in a crowded cafe.

     * The writer (Keitel) also has a really smokin'-hot daughter (Claire Forlani) and the handsome young editor (Joshua Jackson) predictably falls in love with her.

     * The writer eventually rediscovers what he had lost from his own life.

     * The editor eventually rediscovers what he had lost from his own life as well. And I don't just mean his artistic sense of abandon, or his writing talent, or the love he had been missing. He also becomes part of a new family and a new community, develops a better system of hair care, discovers the Fountain of Youth and a cure for cancer, and finally locates both Judge Crater and Amelia Earhart, who are living in the same modest Tuscan village.

As you have undoubtedly already determined, this script manages to incorporate just about every possible arty chick-flick cliché. It's Under the Tuscan Sun meets Winter Passing meets Zorba the Greek. As if all that weren't phony enough, the hot daughter speaks with an Italian accent that would embarrass John Cleese. Mind you, she has been raised by one parent - an American - for the past twenty years, so she would be very unlikely to have any accent at all while speaking English. That alone should have been enough to dissuade the director from allowing the character to speak broken English, but he certainly should have put his foot down and stopped it when he heard Forlani essay the dialect.

If the elements above actually appeal to you, or at least fail to scare you off, the film's execution is not bad. Keitel is lovably dotty. Joshua Jackson is sympathetic, likeable and handsome. Claire Forlani is drop-dead gorgeous. You've seen it all before and you're probably heard every line of dialogue and seen every set piece in other, better movies, but it's filmed and performed with heart by pros, so the story will find an appreciative audience among those with a taste for more sentimental movies, especially among younger women. (It is currently rated 9.7 by females under 18 at IMDb, and I am going to give my copy to my niece! I'm pretty sure she will love it.)

Whether is is your kind of movie or not, you do NOT want the Region 1 DVD, which is some kind of Disneyfied version of the original movie, which was called The Shadow Dancer. The film has been truncated, censored, and cropped!

First matter: it has been formed into a TV-friendly aspect ratio through pan-n-scan cropping. The original theatrical aspect ratio was 2.35:1. The DVD version is presented in a 4:3 TV version. That is, as you might imagine, a very big difference.


The cropping has an especially deleterious impact on this film's outdoor scenes, which often consist of expansive panoramas of the beautiful Tuscan countryside.

What's worse that that, at least for those of us who think Forlani is one of the world's great beauties, is the fact that the film has been censored. Claire's topless scene has been cut, and (far less significant to most of us) Harvey Keitel's standard obligatory nude scene has also been cut!

To tell you the truth, I am no longer as outraged about that as I was originally. I looked closely at the Forlani nude scene, and realized it didn't really matter since (1) you can't see jack squat anyway (2) it probably isn't Forlani at all! You can draw your own conclusions, but I'm just about 100% sure that it is not Forlani. The following capture is a 4x enlargement from the sex scene. Even though her face is clearly visible, my opinion is that it's just a pretty girl who looks something like Forlani. Forlani has a very distinctive profile, and this doesn't seem to be it:


* full screen

* "making of" featurette

* Censored and cropped to fit a TV aspect ratio. see the main commentary for a detailed analysis.








6.7 IMDB summary (of 10)


It was shown at Taormina and Cannes, but never had a significant theatrical run. Given its name stars and ten million dollar budget, it was one of the most professional films to go to video.


  • Claire Forlani had a dark topless scene which was cut from the Region 1 DVD.

BUT - I am not convinced that it was performed by Forlani, even though her the character's face is in the frame! See the main commentary for details.

  • As always, Harvey Keitel had a nude scene, this time just his butt, also cut from the Region 1 release.

























Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is an adequate chick-flick, unoriginal, but competent in most respects, and it has an appreciative audience, as reflected by the respectable IMDb score. Women rate it 7.4 at IMDb. Females under 18 rate it 9.7!!