“What’s it for? So’s you can go home when the show’s over and strut before your wives and sweethearts and play at being the stronger sex for a minute?!”
Judy (Maureen O’Hara) wants nothing more than to become a “serious” ballerina, but finds herself hustling a living in burlesques alongside her outrageous, money-grubbing friend Bubbles (Lucille Ball).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Aspiring Stars
- Dorothy Arzner Films
- Feminism and Women’s Issues
- Louis Hayward Films
- Lucille Ball Films
- Maureen O’Hara Films
- Ralph Bellamy Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “fascinating” early feminist film — in addition to being an enjoyable “backstage musical” — is noteworthy for being helmed by Dorothy Arzner, virtually the only female director in Hollywood during the thirties and forties. The story remains true to Arzner’s feminist loyalties: while men are clearly the ones with the most power here, the females in the film do what they can to look out for each other and follow their dreams. They are “intelligent, witty, courageous, resilient, self-motivated, self-reliant, honorable, and ambitious” — and, most unusually for the time, are willing to put career first, over romance. Dance, Girl, Dance is also notable for giving Lucille Ball one of her best early roles.
- Lucille Ball as Bubbles
- Maria Ouspenskaya as Madame Basilova
- O’Hara’s fiery speech to the men in the burlesque audience
Yes, as Arzner’s best film, and for the memorable performances by both O’Hara and Ball. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies (1981).
- Important Director
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)