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HISTORY

According to the 17 Mar 1990 Long Beach Press-Telegram, co-screenwriter-director Joel Silberg originally wrote the script in his native Hebrew about a teacher who reforms a group of students. Co-screenwriter Sheldon Renan revealed that when they added the lambada dance to the story, he and Silberg privately called the project Stand and Lambada, a spoof of the recent Stand and Deliver (1988, see entry), a film about an inspirational Mexican-American schoolteacher in East Los Angeles. The budget was listed at around $4 million.
       Referring to the picture as Lambada—The Movie, the 13 Dec 1989 Var reported a 15 Dec 1989 start date. However, principal photography began on 22 Jan 1990 in Los Angeles, CA, according to the 13 Feb 1990 HR production chart.
       Filming completed on 5 May 1990, as reported in the 11 Mar 1990 LAT, which noted the title change to Lambada—Set the Night on Fire.
       The picture was released on the same day as Columbia Pictures’ The Forbidden Dance (1990, see entry), which also featured the popular Brazilian dance import by way of Europe. As detailed in the 11 Mar 1990 LAT, both films were produced by companies owned by cousins and former business partners Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus, and were originally scheduled for Apr and May 1990 releases. However, the ongoing international success of the record single, “Lambada,” by the French group Kaoma, and a sudden wave of "lambada fever" in the U.S., prompted Golam and Globus to prematurely rush their movies into release. At least four other lambada films were reportedly ... More Less

According to the 17 Mar 1990 Long Beach Press-Telegram, co-screenwriter-director Joel Silberg originally wrote the script in his native Hebrew about a teacher who reforms a group of students. Co-screenwriter Sheldon Renan revealed that when they added the lambada dance to the story, he and Silberg privately called the project Stand and Lambada, a spoof of the recent Stand and Deliver (1988, see entry), a film about an inspirational Mexican-American schoolteacher in East Los Angeles. The budget was listed at around $4 million.
       Referring to the picture as Lambada—The Movie, the 13 Dec 1989 Var reported a 15 Dec 1989 start date. However, principal photography began on 22 Jan 1990 in Los Angeles, CA, according to the 13 Feb 1990 HR production chart.
       Filming completed on 5 May 1990, as reported in the 11 Mar 1990 LAT, which noted the title change to Lambada—Set the Night on Fire.
       The picture was released on the same day as Columbia Pictures’ The Forbidden Dance (1990, see entry), which also featured the popular Brazilian dance import by way of Europe. As detailed in the 11 Mar 1990 LAT, both films were produced by companies owned by cousins and former business partners Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus, and were originally scheduled for Apr and May 1990 releases. However, the ongoing international success of the record single, “Lambada,” by the French group Kaoma, and a sudden wave of "lambada fever" in the U.S., prompted Golam and Globus to prematurely rush their movies into release. At least four other lambada films were reportedly in development or production at that time: Naked Lambada; Lambadamy (a comedy); Blame It on Lambada; and Lambada: The Sound of Love. However, none were theatrically released in the U.S. under these titles.
       The 20 Mar 1990 LAT review warned its readers, “Don’t bother to sign up for dance lessons.” Following opening weekends, Lambada grossed only $2 million on 1,117 screens, while The Forbidden Dance sold $720,864 tickets on 639 screens.
       According to the 6 Apr 1990 HR, the archbishop of Guatemala was calling for the two lambada films to be banned from movie theaters, over concerns that the erotic dance portrayed would excite "the basest passions." Both pictures had reportedly been playing to packed houses since their openings in eight theaters the week before.
       The 25 May 1990 Orlando Sentinel in FL announced that both films were set to be released nearly simultaneously on home video in early June, less than three months after their theatrical debuts.
       During end credits the "barrio" students are shown several years later, working in professional and semi-professional jobs.
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “Pagers by Pagenet; MacIntosh Computers by Apple Computer, Inc.; Mercedes-Benz automobiles by The Vista Group; motorcycle furnished by Harley-Davidson Motor Co. - Milwaukee, WI; promotional consideration by Toyota Motor Sales, USA - Steven Lieberman Marketing.”
       Although “Rudy” is identified in the film as the biological son of “Kevin Laird,” his character is listed in credits as “Rudy Lombard.” Songwriter Ricky Smith is credited incorrectly as "Rickey Smith." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1990
p. 6.
Daily Variety
19 Mar 1990
p. 2, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 1990
p. 10, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1990.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
17 Mar 1990
Section D, pp. 1-2.
Los Angeles Times
11 Mar 1990
Section T, p. 44.
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1990
Section F, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
21 Mar 1990
Section F, p. 11.
New York
14 May 1990
p. 32.
New York Times
18 Mar 1990
p. 59.
Orlando Sentinel (Florida)
25 May 1990
p. 13.
USA Today
15 Mar 1990
Section D, p. 5.
Variety
13 Dec 1989
p. 16.
Variety
21 Mar 1990
p. 24.
Village Voice
3 Apr 1990
p. 64.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a Cannon Pictures Production
in association with Film and Television Company
a Joel Silberg Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Dir, 2d unit crew
Dir, 2d unit crew
1st asst dir, 2d unit crew
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam
Cam assoc
Still photog
Still photog
Best boy elec
2d best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit crew
1st asst cam, 2d unit crew
2d asst cam, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Elec, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
Grip, 2d unit crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Post prod supv
Post prod supv
Film ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Assoc ed
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Lead man
Const coord
Swing man
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Prop master
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Ward, 2d unit crew
Ladies sportswear & dresses furnished by
Jewelry by
Lambada dancewear by
Shirts by
MUSIC
Original score
Soundtrack exec prod
Mus supv
Special mus consultant
Exec in charge of mus
Assoc mus ed
Asst mus ed
Orig score mixed by
SOUND
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Foley ed
ADR ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR/Foley mixer
ADR/Foley rec
Sd mixer, 2d unit crew
Sd mixer, 2d unit crew
Boom op, 2d unit crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Title des
Title des
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
Addl choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hair stylist
Asst makeup/Hair
Addl hair stylist
Addl hair stylist
Makeup artist, 2d unit crew
Makeup artist, 2d unit crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Prod accountant
Assoc accountant
Casting assoc
Assoc to loc mgr
Prod secy
Post prod provided by
Exec in charge of post prod
Voice casting
Exec asst to Mr. Griffey
Mus exec for Epic Records
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Marketing/Special promotion consultant
Computer consultant
Extra casting
Craft service
Craft service
Caterer
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Scr supv, 2d unit crew
Prod services and equip provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Can't Live Without My Rock 'N' Roll," performed by Micki Free, written & produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, published by Knight Crew Music/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./ Bada Music (BMI)
"Give It Up," performed by Judette Warren, written by Dennis Nelson & Tanya Carmenatti, produced by Dennis Nelson, published by Bama Sweet Music Publishing/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./Bada Music (BMI)
"Set The Night On Fire," performed by Sweet Obsession, written & produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, published by Knight Crew Music/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./ Bada Music (BMI)
+
SONGS
"I Can't Live Without My Rock 'N' Roll," performed by Micki Free, written & produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, published by Knight Crew Music/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./ Bada Music (BMI)
"Give It Up," performed by Judette Warren, written by Dennis Nelson & Tanya Carmenatti, produced by Dennis Nelson, published by Bama Sweet Music Publishing/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./Bada Music (BMI)
"Set The Night On Fire," performed by Sweet Obsession, written & produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, published by Knight Crew Music/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./ Bada Music (BMI)
"When We Make Love," written, produced & performed by Belva Haney, published by Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Lambada Dancing," performed by Kathy Sledge, written & produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, published by Knight Crew Music/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./ Bada Music (BMI)
"Sata," performed by Brenda K. Starr, written by Dennis Nelson & Tanya Camenatti, produced by Dennis Nelson, published by Bama Sweet Music Publishing/Epic/Solar Songs, Inc./Bada Music (BMI)
"I Like The Rhythm," written & performed by Carrie Lucas, produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, co-produced by Carrie Lucas, published by Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Carriffic Music/Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"This Moment In Time," performed by Absolut, written by Carrie Lucas, produced by R. Ray Barnes & Tony Coleman, co-produced by Carrie Lucas, published by Carriffic Music/Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Computer Dance," written, produced & performed by Greg DeBelles, published by Strongbow Music-California/Bada Music (BMI)
"Wes' Groove," performed by Bill Wolfer, written by Wes Crockett & Mark Christopher, produced by Bill Wolfer, published by Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Perfect," performed by Dina D!, written by Wes Crockett & Dina D!, produced by Wes Crockett, published by Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Rock Lambada," performed by Johnny Thomas, Jr., written by Rickey Smith & M.C. Bat Mite, produced by Freeze, published by Blueberry Slush/Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Tease Me, Please Me," performed by Tony Terry, written by Sidney A. Justin, III & Gregory Cautaen, produced by Sidney A. Justin, III, & Welton Gite, published by Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
"Heat Of The Night," performed by Soul II Soul, written by Beresford Romeo & Tony Addis, produced by Jazzie B & Nellie Hopper for Silent Productions, published by Jazzie B Music (PRS)/Virgin Music Inc./Soul II Soul Mad Music (ASCAP)
"Gotta Lambada," performed by Absolut, written by Ricky Smith & Tanya Carmenatti, produced by Freeze, published by Blueberry Slush/Portrait/Solar Songs, Inc./Canpic Music (ASCAP)
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Lambada: Set the Night on Fire
Lambada - The Movie
Release Date:
16 March 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 March 1990
Production Date:
22 January--5 March 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Cannon Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 May 1990
Copyright Number:
PA465746
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
104
Length(in feet):
9,388
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During math class at Stonewood High School in Beverly Hills, Califorinia, Sandy Thomas asks her handsome, bespectacled teacher, Kevin Laird, if he would consider posing for a calendar. The teacher suggests that Sandy get her mind back on her studies. That evening, Kevin Laird plays with his young son, Rudy, and talks to his wife, Linda, before leaving on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. When Kevin arrives at the No Man’s Land nightclub in East Los Angeles, the owner, “Uncle Big,” greets him as “Blade,” the nickname everyone there calls Kevin. Meanwhile, teenager Dean takes Sandy Thomas on a date in his Ferrari sports car, but when he spends too much time flirting with other girls, Sandy gets into another car with a girl friend and two Chicano “low riders.” They drive to No Man’s Land, where Latino and African-American teenagers writhe provocatively, and when Sandy asks what the dancers are doing, her friend calls it “lambada.” Ramone, a Chicano who considers himself the club’s best dancer, watches Blade do the lambada, then redirects his attention to Sandy standing at the door. Sandy recognizes her teacher, Kevin Laird, even though he is not wearing glasses, and is shocked when he looks in her direction. Sandy asks her friends to take her home. When the lambada ends, a dozen young people follow Blade into a back room marked “Galaxy High.” Uncle Big asks Ramone to join the class, but he is not “impressed” with Blade, thinking the teacher looks down on him. The following day, Principal Singleton calls Kevin Laird into his office and promotes him to math department head. That night, Kevin’s son, Rudy, asks why he goes out at night ... +


During math class at Stonewood High School in Beverly Hills, Califorinia, Sandy Thomas asks her handsome, bespectacled teacher, Kevin Laird, if he would consider posing for a calendar. The teacher suggests that Sandy get her mind back on her studies. That evening, Kevin Laird plays with his young son, Rudy, and talks to his wife, Linda, before leaving on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. When Kevin arrives at the No Man’s Land nightclub in East Los Angeles, the owner, “Uncle Big,” greets him as “Blade,” the nickname everyone there calls Kevin. Meanwhile, teenager Dean takes Sandy Thomas on a date in his Ferrari sports car, but when he spends too much time flirting with other girls, Sandy gets into another car with a girl friend and two Chicano “low riders.” They drive to No Man’s Land, where Latino and African-American teenagers writhe provocatively, and when Sandy asks what the dancers are doing, her friend calls it “lambada.” Ramone, a Chicano who considers himself the club’s best dancer, watches Blade do the lambada, then redirects his attention to Sandy standing at the door. Sandy recognizes her teacher, Kevin Laird, even though he is not wearing glasses, and is shocked when he looks in her direction. Sandy asks her friends to take her home. When the lambada ends, a dozen young people follow Blade into a back room marked “Galaxy High.” Uncle Big asks Ramone to join the class, but he is not “impressed” with Blade, thinking the teacher looks down on him. The following day, Principal Singleton calls Kevin Laird into his office and promotes him to math department head. That night, Kevin’s son, Rudy, asks why he goes out at night dressed like a “greaser.” Kevin asks where he heard that word, and Rudy says “greaser” is what his schoolmates call Mexicans. Kevin reminds Rudy that his real grandparents were Mexican immigrants who originally named Kevin Carlos Gutierrez, before they were killed in an accident and he was adopted by an Anglo family. Meanwhile, Sandy Thomas dresses in sexy clothes, and when Dean arrives for their date, she slips out the back door and drives away without him. At No Man’s Land, Ramone tells his girl friend, “Pink Toes,” that he does not want her to continue night school with Blade. As Kevin/Blade arrives, Ramone accuses him of “slumming” in the barrio, but Kevin replies that he offers local black and Latino teenagers, including Ramone, a second chance. Pink Toes pulls Kevin onto the dance floor to do the lambada, which angers Ramone. Sandy arrives at the club, sees Kevin dancing, and cuts in. Despite Kevin’s resistance, Sandy teases him sexually, until he pulls her off the floor and takes her outside. Ramone intercedes because he wants to dance with Sandy, but when Kevin pushes him away, Ramone pulls a knife. As they struggle, Ramone pulls Kevin’s collar aside, revealing a Mexican cross tattoo that surprises him. “You’re a homie!” he exclaims. Uncle Big breaks up the fight, and Kevin conceals Ramone’s knife so that Uncle Big does not see it. Dropping Sandy at home, Kevin asks her to keep his alter ego a secret. As Kevin rides away, Dean arrives and demands to know the biker’s name. Sandy calls him Blade. Rushing back to the nightclub, Kevin meets with a dozen dancers in the back room to prepare them for the upcoming General Educational Development (GED) test that will earn them the equivalent of high school diplomas. Ramone, playing pool nearby, insists the students are wasting their time, but Kevin gives a demonstration of how mathematics can be applied to billiards. Boasting of his “rectangular coordinate system,” Kevin takes bets on whether he can hit the “eight ball” with a three-bank shot. Using a protractor to measure the angles, Kevin knocks the ball in the pocket and takes the money. Later, Linda is awake when Kevin gets home, and they make love. The next day, when Kevin steps out of the classroom for a few minutes to return several borrowed math books to the library, one of his students shows classmates how he reprogrammed Mr. Laird’s computer math program to create a dance video. The students dance around the room. Nearby, Superintendent Leland tells Principal Singleton that since Kevin Laird’s class is the only one showing grade improvement, he would like to see what the teacher is doing. Alerted that the two authority figures are approaching, the students stop dancing and return to their seats. When the superintendent asks to see how Kevin engages his students, the teacher gives the class an earthquake survival problem that requires them to use computers and protractors. The superintendent is impressed. After class, as Kevin tries to explain his Galaxy High night class to Sandy, she teases him sexually. He leaves, but she gets into the passenger seat of his car and continues her pursuit. Seeing Principal Singleton approaching, Sandy crouches on the floor and Kevin places his briefcase over her head to hide her. After the principal leaves, Kevin orders Sandy out of his car. That night at the club, Uncle Big asks Blade why he seems glum, and Blade explains that his Galaxy program is about to “get busted.” Uncle Big assures him that he is doing a valuable service for the kids. Meanwhile, Dean telephones Sandy in her car, but she rebuffs him by saying she is driving to East Los Angeles, so he telephones her friend, Leslie, for a date. Arriving at No Man’s Land, Sandy tries to dance with Blade, but he does the lambada with “Pink Toes” instead. After the song finishes, Blade rounds up his students, gets them on a graffiti-covered “Galaxy High” bus, and leaves Sandy behind. In Beverly Hills, sitting in Dean’s Ferrari, Leslie confesses that Sandy has been going to the No Man’s Land in East Los Angeles because she is obsessed with Kevin Laird and his Blade alter ego. Dean orders Leslie out of the car and drives east. At the same time, Kevin’s bus arrives at Stonewood High in Beverly Hills, and the Latino janitor, a friend of Kevin’s, unlocks the door for the night students. Kevin takes them to his classroom to prepare for the GED on the school computers. He also passes out “Galaxy High” t-shirts he bought with the money he won the previous night at the pool table. Meanwhile, Dean arrives at No Man’s Land and finds Sandy gone, but when he asks where she went, Ramone lies that Blade took her to Stonewood High. Outside, Dean finds graffiti spray-painted on his Ferrari. He telephones his school buddies to tell them to meet him in front of Stonewood. Uncle Big discovers what Ramone told Dean, and admonishes him for sabotaging Blade’s program to help Latino kids get their high school degrees. Uncle Big tells Ramone that Blade thinks he could be college material if he tried. Ramone expresses surprise because Blade never told him that, and drives to Beverly Hills to stop what he started. Meanwhile, Sandy arrives at Stonewood, gets inside, and looks into Kevin’s class. She is surprised to see the lambada dancers sitting at computers. Kevin invites her to come in and watch, and as he works with the minority teenagers, Sandy is impressed. Kevin walks her to the front door of the school, and as they step out, Dean and six friends arrive and accost the teacher. Ramone appears moments later and challenges Dean to a fight. The Galaxy students join the fray, and as the two gangs fight, police cars surround them. The next day, Principal Singleton fires Kevin for scandalizing Stonewood on the eleven o’clock television news. Realizing Kevin was trying to help the disadvantaged teens, Sandy Thomas types up a petition to get Kevin reinstated and implores Stonewood students to sign it. She also enlists the help of the lambada dancers at No Man’s Land. Meanwhile, Linda Laird proclaims her husband a hero and apologizes for all those nights she doubted what he was doing. As Superintendant Leland admonishes Principal Singleton for firing his best teacher, Big Uncle, Sandy Thomas, and the Galaxy students arrive at the office. Big Uncle proposes a “super quiz” contest between the East L.A. students and Dean’s Beverly Hills gang. Under pressure from the superintendant, Principal Singleton agrees, but demands the contest be held to “academic decathlon” rules. During a crowded contest at the Stonewood auditorium, Principal Singleton uses various tricks to thwart the Galaxy students, but in the end, Ramone saves the day by verbally demonstrating the “rectangular coordinates system” Kevin used against him at the pool table. Superintendant Leland forces the principal to declare the barrio students the winners, and the auditorium erupts in applause. Kevin speaks to the crowd, recounts his own journey from being an orphan named Carlos Gutierrez to an adoptee in a home that valued education, and proclaims his mission to make his “two worlds come together.” Ramone and Dean hug, and the No Man’s Land disc jockey sets up his sound system outside the school. Everyone dances the lambada in the rain. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.