Dancing Lady

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Frederica
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Dancing Lady

Unread post by Frederica » Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:12 am

Dancing Lady, with Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and Franchot Tone finally wended its way to the top of my Netflix queue, and I watched it on Sunday night. Overall, I liked the film quite a bit and will probably purchase it. But in the interests of full disclosure I must say that the film had a few...let's just say "oddities."

First off, Crawford looked utterly FABULOUS and even that early she was a star...a star, do you hear? A STAR! She wasn't the best dancer on the planet and she sure as hell couldn't sing, but she's still riveting. And yes, she is playing her patented "Adrian-clad shopgirl" role--this is a problem, why? Clark Gable and Franchot Tone do an excellent job of playing Clark Gable and Franchot Tone, and since I like Clark Gable and Franchot Tone, I had no issues with that, either.

The film desperately wanted to be a precode, but since it was MGM it couldn't quite bring itself to be that gritty. Except for the scantily clad chorines, of course, but that goes without saying. And it had Fred Astaire! (not his best dance number) and Nelson Eddy! (great voice, but boorrrinnngg) and The Three Stooges!!...(?)...and Nelson Eddy!

It has a thoroughly respectable version of the predictable backstage musical story; with a title like Dancing Lady I didn't expect it to be anything else so I wasn't disappointed. I knew that Joan would dump rich but effete Franchot and end up with manly Clark. Like everyone else, I was looking forward to the first night of the show, when Joan would dazzle the audience and become a star! A STAR!!

And then..and then!...both Adrian and the choreographer went completely bugf**k crazy. Holy magumbo. Adrian was a florid and edgy designer and at the best of times he really pushes it. But occasionally the man took something or maybe he didn't take something he was supposed to take...hell, I don't know why, but in Dancing Lady, he went absolutely certifiable. Mountains of taffeta and tulle and very oddly placed bows! Insane stripes and plaids, and more bows, big, big bows! Ruffles, more ruffles, and BOWS!

And the choreography, my god, the choreography. As we all know, Broadway theater stages in movies were the size of airplane hangars...but this one would have had trouble fitting into the CERN super collider. It just kept going on and on and on, and hundreds...thousands! kept dancing and dancing and DANCING! into another new and overdecorated set, all wearing their insane Adrian bow-ridden creations! Madness, sheer, utter, madness!

And dang it, I enjoyed the absolute crap out of every single loony minute of it!

Fred

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Re: Dancing Lady

Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:10 am

Any film that ends with a shot of Joan on a carousel horse that comes towards you in a kinda 3-D effect is OK in my book.

gjohnson
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Unread post by gjohnson » Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:57 pm

This was MGM's answer to "42nd Street" and the finale was an attempt to out-Busby Berkeley.

Gary J.

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Frederica
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Unread post by Frederica » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:22 pm

gjohnson wrote:This was MGM's answer to "42nd Street" and the finale was an attempt to out-Busby Berkeley.

Gary J.
Then they needed more alcohol. Or something.

Fred

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Unread post by dr.giraud » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:40 pm

Frederica wrote:
gjohnson wrote:This was MGM's answer to "42nd Street" and the finale was an attempt to out-Busby Berkeley.

Gary J.
Then they needed more alcohol. Or something.

Fred
They got it (or something stronger) when making the Technicolor finale for Crawford's Ice Follies of 1939. I'm getting a headache remembering it.
dr. giraud

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Frederica
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Unread post by Frederica » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:06 pm

dr.giraud wrote:
Frederica wrote:
gjohnson wrote:This was MGM's answer to "42nd Street" and the finale was an attempt to out-Busby Berkeley.

Gary J.
Then they needed more alcohol. Or something.

Fred
They got it (or something stronger) when making the Technicolor finale for Crawford's Ice Follies of 1939. I'm getting a headache remembering it.
(Head swivels around...sniffs air...points) Is this available on dvd? and more importantly, are there bows?

Fred

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Unread post by dr.giraud » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:26 pm

I don't think Ice Follies is on DVD. I caught the end of it on TCM one morning last March or April. The image quality/color were very good. The music was really really bad. I think there might have been a bow on Crawford's skating costume; I only remember that I felt really, really sorry for her. She had to dance/skate on this godawful snow village set.

In other words, don't miss it.
dr. giraud

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Frederica
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Unread post by Frederica » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:31 pm

dr.giraud wrote:I don't think Ice Follies is on DVD. I caught the end of it on TCM one morning last March or April. The image quality/color were very good. The music was really really bad. I think there might have been a bow on Crawford's skating costume; I only remember that I felt really, really sorry for her. She had to dance/skate on this godawful snow village set.

In other words, don't miss it.
OMG. I have the BIGGEST grin on my face, just thinking about Adrian and iceskating costumes.

Fred

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Harlett O'Dowd
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Unread post by Harlett O'Dowd » Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:12 pm

Frederica wrote:
dr.giraud wrote:I don't think Ice Follies is on DVD. I caught the end of it on TCM one morning last March or April. The image quality/color were very good. The music was really really bad. I think there might have been a bow on Crawford's skating costume; I only remember that I felt really, really sorry for her. She had to dance/skate on this godawful snow village set.

In other words, don't miss it.
OMG. I have the BIGGEST grin on my face, just thinking about Adrian and iceskating costumes.

Fred
It shows up from time to time on TCM. It's a trainwreck, but not a very entertaining one - although you may get a giggle out of some of the costumes.

It may be my least favorite of all of La Craw's output. It's just dull.

When you finally see this thing you will understand why THE WOMEN salvaged her career.

And the finale is in Technicolor - but it doesn't help - and Joan skates about as well as she sings.

The one interesting bit of trivia is that this is one of four american films directed by Reinhold Schünzel (Tiger Brown in the Pabst Dreigroschenoper and director of the original German Viktor Und Viktoria.) There's an interesting German bio-pic on his life - Beim nächsten Kuß knall ich ihn nieder - but I don't recall that Joan appears in it as a character.

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rudyfan
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Unread post by rudyfan » Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:18 pm

Frederica wrote: They got it (or something stronger) when making the Technicolor finale for Crawford's Ice Follies of 1939. I'm getting a headache remembering it.
(Head swivels around...sniffs air...points) Is this available on dvd? and more importantly, are there bows?

Fred[/quote]

Oh, PU, trust me, this one is not one of those most revered 1939 flicks everyone talks about. This one is a real stinker, even Jimmy Stewart looks miserable about being in it. Plus, not even any really good faked ice skating sequences with Joan, totally lame. Not to mention, I may have a DVD I recorded somewhere, if it is, I will toss it with my next attempt to send you pics of the St. Francis! ;-)
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Unread post by Mike Gebert » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:36 pm

And the choreography, my god, the choreography. As we all know, Broadway theater stages in movies were the size of airplane hangars...but this one would have had trouble fitting into the CERN super collider. It just kept going on and on and on, and hundreds...thousands! kept dancing and dancing and DANCING! into another new and overdecorated set, all wearing their insane Adrian bow-ridden creations! Madness, sheer, utter, madness!


TCM ran a Mexican movie called La Aventurera once that I thought took this to its logical extreme. The heroine works in a nightclub where she is the star of massive numbers which would make Celine Dion's Vegas show look chintzy... and then she's also expected to be turning two-dollar tricks in the seedy bordello upstairs, which is the real business the mammoth nightclub is merely covering for!
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Harold Aherne
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Unread post by Harold Aherne » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:15 pm

Somebody must have had really high hopes for "Ice Follies of 1939". On 21 March of that year Joan entered the Victor studios to record some numbers from the film, although only two got released. If you happen to listen to"It's All So New to Me" you can probably figure out why.

Here's a page listing Crawford's box office grosses. I won't pretend to know all the mathematics behind these figures, but they're interesting.

-Harold

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