Dancing Lady (1933)

90 mins | Musical | 24 November 1933

Director:

Robert Z. Leonard

Cinematographer:

Oliver T. Marsh

Editor:

Margaret Booth

Production Designer:

Merrill Pye

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

James Warner Bellah's novel was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post (30 Apr--4 Jun 1932). The DV review lists a preview running time of 100 minutes. On the main title card, Ted Healy, Moe Howard, Jerry Howard and Larry Fine are billed as "Ted Healy and his Stooges." On the "Supporting Players" card Moe Howard, Jerry Howard and Larry Fine are individually named, however. Jerry Howard, born Jerome, would later be called Curly Howard.
       The film was originally to have starred Robert Montgomery in the part of Tod Newton. According to contemporary news items, when Montgomery became unavailable because he had not yet completed Another Language (see entry), Franchot Tone took over the role. Other actors who were considered or announced for roles in the picture, but who did not appear were Estelle Taylor, Alice Brady and The Boswell Sisters. Frank Morgan was listed in some production articles on the film, however, his role was cut from the released picture. Other actors mentioned in production charts or news items whose appearances in the released film have not been confirmed are T. Roy Barnes, Jay Whidden, Shirley Chambers and Blossom Seeley.
       Soon after the production began in early Jun 1933, Clark Gable became ill. News items in HR and FD variously reported that Gable had a toxic leg condition, and was ordered by his doctor to have several weeks of rest due to overwork. During Gable's leave, William Gargan was mentioned as a replacement in the role of "Patch Gallagher," then Lee Tracy. Broadway columnist Walter Winchell reportedly offered M-G-M a $100,000 flat ... More Less

James Warner Bellah's novel was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post (30 Apr--4 Jun 1932). The DV review lists a preview running time of 100 minutes. On the main title card, Ted Healy, Moe Howard, Jerry Howard and Larry Fine are billed as "Ted Healy and his Stooges." On the "Supporting Players" card Moe Howard, Jerry Howard and Larry Fine are individually named, however. Jerry Howard, born Jerome, would later be called Curly Howard.
       The film was originally to have starred Robert Montgomery in the part of Tod Newton. According to contemporary news items, when Montgomery became unavailable because he had not yet completed Another Language (see entry), Franchot Tone took over the role. Other actors who were considered or announced for roles in the picture, but who did not appear were Estelle Taylor, Alice Brady and The Boswell Sisters. Frank Morgan was listed in some production articles on the film, however, his role was cut from the released picture. Other actors mentioned in production charts or news items whose appearances in the released film have not been confirmed are T. Roy Barnes, Jay Whidden, Shirley Chambers and Blossom Seeley.
       Soon after the production began in early Jun 1933, Clark Gable became ill. News items in HR and FD variously reported that Gable had a toxic leg condition, and was ordered by his doctor to have several weeks of rest due to overwork. During Gable's leave, William Gargan was mentioned as a replacement in the role of "Patch Gallagher," then Lee Tracy. Broadway columnist Walter Winchell reportedly offered M-G-M a $100,000 flat fee if he could play the role. The 1 Aug 1933 HR announced that Gable was definitely out of the picture, but one week later an 8 Aug 1933 news item announced that Gable would be retained; M-G-M planned to delay production until he was completely recovered. Gable returned to the set on 29 Aug 1933. Some modern sources indicated that M-G-M executives were skeptical about Gable's lengthy illness and assumed the star was not as sick as he claimed. In an effort to "punish" Gable and demonstrate the studio's authority, Gable was loaned to Columbia for It Happened One Night (1934, see entry). The picture became a hit, and was the only production for which Gable won an Academy Award. Alternately, several biographical sources reported that Gable was loaned to Columbia for refusing to do another "tough guy" role.
       Reviews generally singled out the "That's the Rhythm of the Day" number for the excellence of the special effects work done by Slavko Vorkapich. In the sequence, cast members of the musical play within the film move across the stage as their costumes, hairstyles and demeanor change from old-fashioned to modern.
       Trades additionally noted the following information: The film marked Jean Howard's first feature; the song "Everything I Have Is Yours," which became one of the most popular songs of the year, was a "big hit" in the East even before the film was completed; and, writer humorist Robert Benchley returned to his position as the drama critic for The New Yorker after completing his role in the picture. This was Benchley's first feature for M-G-M. He made several features for the studio during the 1930s and 1940s and also wrote and starred in a number of humourous short films. Dancing Lady marked the motion picture debut of Broadway star Fred Astaire. It was also his last M-G-M film until The Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940, see entry). According to contemporary news items, as well as memos and letters written by David O. Selznick that have been reproduced in a modern source, Selznick had convinced RKO, his former studio, to sign Astaire to a contract, but the studio was uncertain how to best feature the dancer. Selznick moved to M-G-M in early 1933 to take over for production chief Irving Thalberg while Thalberg was recuperating from a serious heart attack. When Dancing Lady was being cast, Selznick decided to borrow Astaire from RKO. Selznick memos, as well as biographical sources on Crawford, noted that Dancing Lady became one of the most popular pictures of her career and revived her waning popularity with audiences after the box office failures of Rain and Today We Live (see entries). Several modern sources have additionally called the picture "the yardstick" against which all other Crawford pictures were measured by M-G-M.
       An “Inside Stuff” item in the 5 Dec 1933 Variety revealed this information: “A Hitler gag was cut out of ‘Dancing Lady’ by Metro. Jerry Howard [sic] of Howard, Fine and Howard, Ted Healy’s stooges, is shown working on a jigsaw puzzle all through the picture until finally supplying the missing piece. He jumps up registering a sick expression, exclaiming, ‘I've been working on this for five weeks and look what I finally got, Hitler.’ To which Healy replies, ‘What did you expect, Santa Claus?’ The Santa tag is in plus the business but Hitler is out.”
       Throughout the film, “Stooge” Larry Fine (not Jerry “Curly” Howard) portrays a rehearsal pianist who, during moments of inactivity, is seen working a jigsaw puzzle. In most prints of Dancing Lady, including the 2017 Warner Bros. “Archive Collection” version, this side story is never resolved or explained, because the intended pay-off was excised from the negative before copies were struck for the film's 24 Nov 1933 release. However, the scene was resurrected when an uncut film positive was sourced for prints in a 1950s television release. As paraphrased in several modern sources, the previously edited sequence depicted Fine's character as unable to find the last piece of the puzzle. Ted Healy says, “Here it is,” and hands him the jigsaw piece. Completing the puzzle, Fine recognizes the face of Germany’s recently installed chancellor, Adolf Hitler, and sputters “Oy! Oy! It's Hitler!” He overturns the table. “It's Hitler.” Healy responds with the “Santa Claus” line noted in the 5 Dec 1933 Variety. Had this ending been included in the 1933 release, Dancing Lady may have been Hollywood's first public acknowledgement on film of Hitler’s rise to power, featuring a pronounced response from a Jewish character. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Nov 33
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Jun 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
10 Jun 33
p. 17.
Film Daily
19 Jun 33
p. 4.
Film Daily
14 Jul 33
p. 33.
Film Daily
2 Aug 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
2 Dec 33
p. 3.
HF
24 Jun 33
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 33
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 33
p. 58.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 33
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 33
p. 3.
International Photographer
1 Aug 33
p. 39.
Motion Picture Daily
11 Nov 33
p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Aug 33
p. 36.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Nov 33
p. 36.
New York Times
1 Dec 33
p. 23.
Variety
5 Dec 33
pp. 16, 51.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Mus ensembles dir
Mus ensembles dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Asst cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Orch conducted by
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Dance instructor
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief elec
STAND INS
Singing voice double for Joan Crawford in "That's
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Dancing Lady by James Warner Bellah (New York, 1932).
SONGS
"Let's Go Bavarian," "Heigh Ho!" and "Everything I Have Is Yours," music by Burton Lane, lyrics by Harold Adamson
"That's the Rhythm of the Day," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart
"My Dancing Lady," music by Jimmy McHugh, lyrics by Dorothy Fields.
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 November 1933
Production Date:
late Jun--early Oct 1933
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
27 November 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4402
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Millionaire Tod Newton takes his friends on a slumming trip to a burlesque show and finds himself attracted to Janie Barlow, one of the strippers. When the club is raided, Tod bails out Janie, who has no money, and she accepts his assistance as a loan. That same night, Tod also sends Janie fifty dollars to buy herself a dress "without a zipper." She moves uptown and auditions for a new show directed by Patch Gallagher; however, she can't get past the doorman, and even following Patch around the city doesn't help. Tod again comes to her rescue by secretly arranging to back the show on condition that Patch hire Janie for the chorus. Patch doesn't want anything to do with a rich man's girl friend, but when he sees how well Janie dances, he places her in the front row. In time, Tod proposes marriage and Janie conditionally accepts, stipulating that she will go through with the wedding if Patch's production fails. Meanwhile, Patch is displeased with the show's star, Vivian Warner, and gives Janie the lead in the new version. Patch and Janie experience a growing attraction to each other. Unbeknown to Janie, Tod secretly withdraws his financial support of the show and rehearsals stop. Making good on her promise to wed Tod, Janie goes away with him, but Patch uses his own money to sustain the production. When Janie returns and discovers Tod's deception, she begs Patch to take her back. Janie is a big hit on opening night, dancing with Fred Astaire and Nelson Eddy, and Tod realizes that Broadway, not Park Avenue, is Janie's proper address. Patch ... +


Millionaire Tod Newton takes his friends on a slumming trip to a burlesque show and finds himself attracted to Janie Barlow, one of the strippers. When the club is raided, Tod bails out Janie, who has no money, and she accepts his assistance as a loan. That same night, Tod also sends Janie fifty dollars to buy herself a dress "without a zipper." She moves uptown and auditions for a new show directed by Patch Gallagher; however, she can't get past the doorman, and even following Patch around the city doesn't help. Tod again comes to her rescue by secretly arranging to back the show on condition that Patch hire Janie for the chorus. Patch doesn't want anything to do with a rich man's girl friend, but when he sees how well Janie dances, he places her in the front row. In time, Tod proposes marriage and Janie conditionally accepts, stipulating that she will go through with the wedding if Patch's production fails. Meanwhile, Patch is displeased with the show's star, Vivian Warner, and gives Janie the lead in the new version. Patch and Janie experience a growing attraction to each other. Unbeknown to Janie, Tod secretly withdraws his financial support of the show and rehearsals stop. Making good on her promise to wed Tod, Janie goes away with him, but Patch uses his own money to sustain the production. When Janie returns and discovers Tod's deception, she begs Patch to take her back. Janie is a big hit on opening night, dancing with Fred Astaire and Nelson Eddy, and Tod realizes that Broadway, not Park Avenue, is Janie's proper address. Patch and Janie also realize their love transcends the theatrical roles of star and director. +

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

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