Shag (film)

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Shag the movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zelda Barron
Produced by Julia Chasman
Stephen Woolley
Screenplay by Lanier Laney
Terry Sweeney
Robin Swicord
Story by Lanier Laney
Terry Sweeney
Cinematography Peter MacDonald
Edited by Laurence Méry-Clar
Palace Pictures
Distributed by Hemdale Film Corporation
Release date
  • April 14, 1989 (1989-04-14) (Sweden)
  • July 21, 1989 (1989-07-21) (U.S.)
Running time
98 mins.
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $5,000,000[1]
Box office $6,957,975[1]

Shag (also known as Shag: The Movie) is a 1989 American comedy film starring Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, Annabeth Gish, Page Hannah, Jeff Yagher and Scott Coffey. The film features Carolina shag dancing and was produced in cooperation with the South Carolina Film Commission. The soundtrack album was on Sire/Warner Bros. Records.


The film is a lighthearted story of four teenage girlfriends of various temperaments who escape from their parents for a few days in 1963 for an adventure in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where the big spring festival promises a dance contest, beer blasts and lots of cute boys. Carson is engaged to a rich but square young man, Melaina fancies herself as a Hollywood sexpot, Luanne wears glasses and is a prim and proper senator's daughter, and Pudge has recently lost weight but has always been called "Pudge" and suffers from low self-esteem.

The trip is spurred by the upcoming marriage of Carson to Harley, the son of a prominent tobacco farmer. On the main strip in Myrtle Beach, their paths cross Buzz and Chip, locals who are cruising around looking for girls. They stay at the second home of Luanne's parents, but are forbidden to sit on the furniture, drink the liquor or make phone calls, as the trip is a secret.

The girls decide to go to a local club so they can shag, but Carson has sworn she won't dance as she feels guilty being in Myrtle Beach instead of going to Fort Sumter, SC as her fiance believes. Once at the club, Melania flirts with the local men, dancing with one she had just told Pudge to reject. She has a run in with local girl Nadine's best friend Suette while doing the limbo and ends up flirting with Big Bob, who is Nadine's dance partner. In the bathroom, the local girls are overheard by Melania talking about a local beauty pageant and she tells them they won't win because she is entering. While Carson and Pudge sit with Buzz and Chip, who have gravitated to their table, Luanne is dragged to the dance floor by a boy that refuses to let her go. Chip shows an interest in Pudge but says he can't dance, and when Buzz asks Carson to dance, she tells him to dance with Pudge instead. The two girls take a ride with Buzz and Carson to a local car-hop eatery, at the same time Melania takes a ride with Big Bob. Meanwhile, Luanne finally escapes her dance partner and runs outside to see the girls take off in separate cars.

Luanne ends up following Melania and Big Bob, who are also being followed by Nadine and Suette. Bob takes her to a local make-out place, where Nadine and Suette attack his car with shaving cream and drag Melania out of the car, covering her in the cream, facial tissue and pouring liquor down her throat. Luanne finds Melania lying on the ground reciting Bible verses and takes her back to the house to clean up, where Melania tells her she's entering the beauty contest. At the car-hop, Buzz begins to flirt with Carson, not caring that she's engaged and she finds herself drawn to him. Pudge asks Chip to let her teach him the shag and he grudgingly relents. Once the boys take Carson and Pudge home, Carson calls Harley and tells him she's actually in Myrtle Beach, but doesn't tell him she went out with another man.

Pudge is confronted by Chip in the morning while still in her nightgown and rollers, but she is pleased he has come by to see her and she begins their dance lessons. Buzz wakes Carson up by dangling a fly fishing lure in her face and asks her to go fishing with him. Once she tells him nothing will ever happen between them, he agrees and says they should just be friends. Melania begins practicing her dance routine for the beauty pageant and Luanne walks in on her and shames her into giving a speech from Gone with the Wind instead.

Carson and Buzz are fishing and they begin to get closer as the day wears on, while Chip and Pudge ask each other questions relating to sex and relationships. Buzz tells Carson that he doesn't believe she will marry Harley and forces her to confront her beliefs and rules she's set for herself. The girls later come together to see Melania enter the contest but instead of using her dance routine and wearing a bikini, she has let Luanne influence her into being a more modest contestant, and she loses to Suette, who wins doing a dance routine in a bikini. Harley arrives during the contest and Carson hides from him, while Luanne seeks him out. Melania gets the idea to have Luanne use her daddy's name as a Senator to invite Jimmy Valentine to the house for a small party, which turns into a rowdy affair.

Melania spends the evening dancing with and impressing Jimmy, while Carson spends more time with Buzz, Luanne and Harley get close, and Pudge and Chip get to know each other more. Carson and Buzz go to Luanne's father's yacht and even though he admits he doesn't believe in marriage, they end up sleeping together. Luanne and Harley also realize they have feelings for each other and are more suited than Harley and Carson were. Chip makes a mistake in saying his feelings for Pudge are friendship and she rejects him.

Melania tries to get Jimmy to pay attention to her once the sun has come up, but he's still drunk and his manager has come to the house to take him away. Melania realizes the agent is the real celebrity maker and decides to set her sites on him instead. Luanne and Harley wake and are told by the maid that her father and mother are coming to town to judge the shag contest and she sends Chip to pick them up and take them to the pavilion while they repair the damage done to the home. Pudge takes Melania to the pavilion to meet up with Jimmy's agent and there she sees Chip and realizes that he really does care about her.

Luanne and Harley, along with Buzz and Carson, who snuck back from the yacht, follow Pudge and Melania to the pavilion in time to see Pudge and Chip enter the contest. Once they all see Luanne's parents, she says she will lie to them about the weekend and Carson berates her for not telling the truth. Luanne says she'll tell them the truth if Carson tells Harley the truth. Carson tells Harley she can't marry him because she's in love with Buzz and Luanne spills the beans about the two having sex in the yacht. Harley attempts to hit Buzz, who ducks his blow and hits a mirror instead, and Luanne comforts him. Chip and Pudge win the contest and agree to stay in touch while Chip attends Annapolis, Melania impresses the agent who agrees to take her on as a client, Luanne ends up with Harley and Carson realizes she doesn't need to be married to be happy.


  • Phoebe Cates as Carson McBride, the beautiful socialite who is set to marry a tobacco executive's son
  • Bridget Fonda as Melaina Buller, the promiscuous preacher's daughter with bigger dreams
  • Annabeth Gish as Caroline "Pudge" Carmichael, the formerly overweight, hometown cutie
  • Page Hannah as Luanne Clatterbuck, the uptight senator's daughter
  • Robert Rusler as Buzz Ravenel, the townie boy whose come-ons snare Carson
  • Scott Coffey as Chip Guillyard, a future service member and excellent shagger
  • Tyrone Power, Jr. as Harley Ralston, a tobacco executive's son- as straight-laced as they come
  • Jeff Yagher as Jimmy Valentine, a semi-famous Elvis Presley wanna-be
  • Carrie Hamilton as Nadine, a white-trash townie who is jealous of the girls
  • Leilani Sarelle as Suette, friend of Nadine who competes against Melaina in a beauty contest


The film grossed approximately $6.9 million at the US Box Office. It was not a big hit when initially released, and commercially was considered a flop. Despite the film's box office failure, the film received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports that, out of 15 critics in total, 64% gave the film a positive review.[2]

Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3 stars, praised the actors of the film, calling them "best of the younger generation in Hollywood, and they treat their material with the humor and delicacy it deserves."[3] TV Guide also enjoyed the actors, who called them "uniformly attractive and energetic, and deliver performances that range from likable to delicious."[4]


Sire/Warner Bros Records soundtrack cover

The original soundtrack album was released by Sire/Warner Bros Records on August 2, 1989. It was available on vinyl, cassette and CD.

Tracks on the original soundtrack album.
  1. The Shag - Tommy Page
  2. I'm In Love Again - Randy Newman
  3. Our Day Will Come - k.d. lang and The Reclines
  4. Ready To Go Steady - The Charmettes
  5. Shaggin' On The Grand Strand - Hank Ballard
  6. Oh What A Night - The Moonlighters
  7. Saved - La Vern Baker
  8. I'm Leaving It All Up to You - La Vern Baker, Ben E. King
  9. Surrender - Louise Goffin
  10. Diddley Daddy - Chris Isaak
Songs in the film, not on the soundtrack
Songs in the original theatrically released film, (Not on the copyright compliant home video)
* The ShirellesMama Said
* Sam CookeAnother Saturday Night
* The ChiffonsHe's So Fine
* The DupreesYou Belong to Me
Songs added on the copyright-compliant home video (Not in the original film)
* The TamsWhat Kind of Fool
* k.d. lang and The Reclines – Seven Lonely Days

Home media releases[edit]

The initial VHS home video version was released on June 3, 1997. However, legal copyright infringements led to a second VHS release on January 13, 1998 that features different songs, or no music at all in some scenes compared to the original theatrical release. The 1997 home video version has a box cover almost identical to the theatrical poster; the modified copyright-compliant version has different cover artwork.

Shag was released on Region 1 DVD on May 22, 2001. The Blu Ray of the movie was released on June 27, 2017 by Olive Films.


  1. ^ a b "Shag: Box office / business for". IMDB. Retrieved March 31, 2017. 
  2. ^ Shag on Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 21, 1989). "Shag". The Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Shag: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]