This 1983 romance earned scorn from critics, but audiences loved Jennifer Beals as Alex, the welder by day, exotic-dancer by night who dreams of becoming a ballet star, and Flashdance was the third biggest box office hit of the year. Reportedly made with an eye (and ear) on the MTV crowd, the story line was intercut with scenes that relied on music — including Alex’s audition finale — to make it seem like a series of music videos. The tactic appeared to work: within two weeks of the film’s release, its soundtrack was selling 50,000 to 100,000 copies a day, in part on the strength of its two hit singles, Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” and Irene Cara’s “Flashdance … What a Feeling” (which won an Academy Award for Best Song). The album ultimately sold more than 20 million copies.
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