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Dancing Lady

Dancing Lady (1933) starring Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Franchot Tone

Synopsis of Dancing Lady

In Dancing Lady, a musical star is torn between a millionaire playboy and her stage manager.

Review of Dancing Lady

Joan Crawford and Fred Astaire in costume for the finale of Dancing Lady
Joan Crawford and Fred Astaire in costume for the finale of Dancing Lady

In short, Dancing Lady is an enjoyable 1930’s musical. If you’re a fan of musicals, you’ll enjoy it. It centers around a romantic triangle between Joan Crawford who wants to dance, her boyfriend the wealthy Franchot Tone, and dance director Clark Gable. Gable begins to fall for Crawford, which really isn’t a surprise for musicals of the time. But when Tone uses his money to surreptitiously shut down the show,, it’s slightly surprising. But, “let’s put on a show” is a trope for a reason, as is “the show must go on!” And it does … and the ending is enjoyable but not very surprising.

Product description of Dancing Lady

Dancing Lady (1933) starring Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Franchot Tone

A Broadway chorine (Joan Crawford) needs a little help with her hoofing, so her dance director (Clark Gable) gets an idea. A good idea. “Do you feel like going through that opening number with Mr. Astaire?” And Fred Astaire, making his screen debut, shows the lady how it’s done. Three film icons give the backstage musical a jolt of superstar electricity in a song-, dance-, and romance-filled extravaganza featuring support by Nelson Eddy, Robert Benchley and The Three Stooges and tunes by Rodgers and Hart, Burton Lane, Dorothy Fields and more musical greats. Gable and Crawford had such stellar chemistry that MGM teamed them for eight movies. Here, as always, they have street-smart glamour and charisma to burn. Add Astaire’s sophistication and Dancing Lady can take a well-deserved bow.

Songs in Dancing Lady

  • Hold Your Man (1933) Music by Nacio Herb Brown, Lyrics by Arthur Freed, Sung and Danced by Winnie Lightner and chorus
  • Alabama Swing, Written by James P. Johnson, Played by Larry Fine on piano
  • Everything I Have Is Yours, (1933) Music by Burton Lane, Lyrics by Harold Adamson, Played during the opening credits and often in the score
  • My Dancing Lady, (1933) Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
  • Heigh-Ho, the Gang’s All Here, (1933) Music by Burton Lane, Lyrics by Harold Adamson, Sung and Danced by Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford and chorus
  • Let’s Go Bavarian, (1933) Music by Burton Lane, Lyrics by Harold Adamson, Sung and Danced by Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford and chorus
  • (That’s The) Rhythm of the Day, (1933) Music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, Sung by Nelson Eddy, Joan Crawford (dubbed by Mildred Carroll)
  • Hey! Young Fella (1933) Music by Jimmy McHugh, Lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Sung and Danced by chorus

Editorial review of Dancing Lady courtesy of Amazon.com

Joan Crawford and Clark Gable were both in their young MGM prime when they suited up for Dancing Lady, the studio’s big, shiny, silly reply to 42nd Street. Joan is a burlesque dancer (but mind you, serious artiste) when she is plucked from the ranks by a playboy, played by Franchot Tone, Crawford’s future real-life hubby. Gable is the bluff, hard-driving theater director guiding a new Broadway musical that has room for one more chorus girl. Maybe. It all builds to the opening of the big show, and some utterly insane musical numbers including a Bavarian spectacle and the mind-bending “Rhythm of the Day.”

The saving grace in these scenes is that Fred Astaire, in his film debut, partners Joan onstage and sings a bit. The movie also has Nelson Eddy and soused one-liners from Robert Benchley, plus Ted Healy and His Stooges doing some surreal comedy. Vaudevillian Healy actually has a pretty big role here, but the Stooges (three fellows named Moe, Curly, and Larry) would go on to stardom without him. The movie may not be a great one, but it gives the sugary flavor of early-’30s MGM, and even a simple scene like a gym workout (with Gable and Crawford in especially sassy form) provides the pleasures of art deco production design and cool costumes. –Robert Horton