Musical numbers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Music by Richard Rodgers
Produced by David O. Selznick for M.G.M
Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Starring: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, introducing Fred Astaire
Screenplay by Allen Rivkin, Zelda Sears and P. J. Wolfson, from James W. Bellah's novel.

Janie (Joan Crawford) is a hoofer with a heart of gold who prefers dancing to romancing. She tells Tod, her playboy admirer (Franchot Tone), that she will marry him only if she fails on stage. Her show is promptly cancelled, its backer bribed by the playboy. Of course, Patch, the hard-boiled dance director (Clark Gable), puts up his own dough to save the show. In trying to make a lady out of Janie, Tod tells her "Don't say 'them things'" and "Don't buy shoes with ribbons on them." Janie opts for ribbons and Patch at the fade out.

The theme that Nelson had somehow sold out and prostituted his art was beginning. A review in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted: "Nelson Eddy, Philadelphia baritone, who made good in opera and concert, and turned a willing ear to Hollywood's siren song, is to be seen and heard in one musical number as a typical revue singer."

Glossy backstage romance is best remembered for Astaire's film debut (he plays himself), dancing opposite a less-than-inspired Crawford. Show-biz story, three-cornered romance are strictly standard, but cast and MGM gloss add points. Funniest moments belong to the Three Stooges. Look fast for a young Eve Arden.

Leonard Maltin Review: 2.5 stars out of 4


Speaking of teams, Dancing Lady was the fourth of seven films costarring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. Gable was not yet a super-star. That would come with his next film when he was lent to Columbia for It Happened One Night. Here he still takes second billing (as he would continue to do) to MGM stalwart Crawford. After her early silent flapper image, Crawford had gone dramatic; Dancing Lady represented a change of pace for her.

MGM was still trying to do backstage musicals, hoping to capture some of the glory (and box office receipts) from Warner Bros. Both Nelson and Fred Astaire (in his film debut) have musical numbers, but are more or less wasted.

Video & DVD
Dancing Lady VHS NTSC

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