Dancing Lady (1933)

Dancing Lady (1933)

“I’m like that guy throwing quarters in the slot machine — I keep on trying.”

After being bailed out of jail by a wealthy man (Franchot Tone), an ambitious hoofer (Joan Crawford) makes her way to Broadway, where Tone secretly buys her a spot in a play run by a talented but resentful director (Clark Gable). Will Crawford achieve her dream of dancing fame, or choose a life of ease and comfort with Tone?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aspiring Stars
  • Career-versus-Marriage
  • Clark Gable Films
  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Dancers
  • Franchot Tone Films
  • Fred Astaire Films
  • Joan Crawford Films
  • “Let’s Put On a Show!”
  • Love Triangle

MGM’s response to the success of Warner Brothers’ 42nd Street (1933) was this similarly themed “gotta dance!” tale of a plucky young dame determined to pursue a career on Broadway. The storyline is slight and predictable, but moves along quickly enough, with some clever editing and an enjoyably flamboyant finale. As usual, Crawford and Gable have fine chemistry together (Crawford requested his casting). This film is notable for featuring Fred Astaire in his film debut (as a lead dancer in the performance), though he doesn’t make much of an impact.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric cinematography
  • The Busby Berkeley-esque musical finale

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book, which makes sense.


One thought on “Dancing Lady (1933)

  1. Agreed – not must-see, although it’s entertaining-enough for what it is. Strangely, Crawford isn’t ideally suited to her role. She handles the more-dramatic scenes well-enough but, being somewhat gangly as a dancer and not much of a singer, she’s not all that believable as someone who could be a Broadway musical star. That takes a particular flair that’s not in Crawford’s line.

    Along with Astaire, fans of Eve Arden, Nelson Eddy and The Three Stooges will note all of their cameos with fond recognition.

Leave a Reply