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Dance Hall (1929)

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A dance trophy winning young couple is temporarily split up when a playboy aviator leads the girl to believe he's in love with her.


(as Melville Brown)


(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Dance Hall (1929)

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Cast overview:
Gracie Nolan
Arthur Lake ...
Tommy Flynn
Margaret Seddon ...
Mrs. Flynn
Ralph Emerson ...
Ted Smith
Joseph Cawthorn ...
Helen Kaiser ...
Lee Moran ...
Tom O'Brien ...


A dance trophy winning young couple is temporarily split up when a playboy aviator leads the girl to believe he's in love with her.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

melodrama | See All (1) »





Release Date:

14 December 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Os Malucos do Jazz  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The soundtrack is dubbed on to an already finished film. The actors' voices say the words but are just a little off, sometimes speaking too fast or slow (sometimes in the same scene), to perfectly match their onscreen selves' mouth movements. Sound effects also can be similarly affected. It's obviously a talkie, and is definitely not a case of an out of synch track. It's a re-do. A very strange and apparently unique happenstance. See more »

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User Reviews

The Sound Editors Must Have Had Too Much to Drink at the Dance Hall the Night Before
24 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Dance Hall" simply has the worst match of sound to picture I've ever seen in any era. There are all kinds of speculation here as to why it is so off, but speculate no more. The solution is simply that whomever cut this picture used the wrong takes of soundtrack to go with the visual. This is confirmed by the scene where Arthur Lake, as Tommy, dances with his mother, played by Margaret Seddon; as they dance, Lake speaks a line which goes unheard, followed by a line spoken by Seddon in response which falls roughly in the right place. The editor picked a visual take where Lake spoke the line and matched it to one where he didn't, however, Seddon did not forget her line like Lake did, and it comes in nearly where it should. And scenes like this abound in "Dance Hall;" even sequences that are matched to correct takes are a little off in the synchronization department. From this standpoint alone, "Dance Hall" is a train wreck.

Someone stated that you could re-synchronize it, but it wouldn't be worth it. Actually, even if you worked with a set of surviving discs, you still couldn't sync it properly because they used the wrong takes; the audio, for the most part, does not fit the action on screen. I still feel a restoration would be worthwhile just to help us understand what the dialog is in the first place. Some scenes are very, very hard to understand, and a lot of the dialog is swallowed up in limiting; the soundtrack is littered with pops and the sounds of splice marks. However, even with an improved soundtrack, it might not improve the picture, at least by much. It's Viña Delmar's first story credit, and not one destined to win her any Oscar nominations, as "The Awful Truth" did. "Dance Hall" is pretty bad in the story sense alone; Tommy and Gracie (Olive Borden) are broke ballroom dancers, and Tommy is pretty keen on Gracie, but her emotional world is thrown into a tailspin when she is wood by no-good jerk-wad pilot Ted (Ralph Emerson). And that short summary almost gives away the whole story.

Arthur Lake -- who plays the whole first scene without his pants [!] --is trapped in the kind of miserable juvenile role that Humphrey Bogart was often saddled with in his days on Broadway. Lake is wasted; as Dagwood Bumstead he was a kind of a comic genius, but here he is trying to play Tommy as a lovable boob and only succeeds at making him a boob. And it is not through inexperience; Lake had already been in dozens of pictures. Olive Borden is lovely as Gracie, but the part -- well -- it's vapid. Redoutable supporting actors Seddon and Joseph Cawthorn play stock characters and seem anxious to move on to the next picture, whatever it is. Visually, the direction, camera-work and cutting is strong for an early talkie; the dance hall set is attractive and authentic, and the dance music is charming and catchy. But the total package plays like a weak comedy that doesn't have any gags in it. Everyone connected with it -- including producer William LeBaron, who ultimately produced such classic comedies as "It's a Gift," "Peach-A-Reno" and took home the Best Picture Oscar for "Cimarron" a couple of years later -- must have been embarrassed beyond description by "Dance Hall."

It is unlikely "Dance Hall" was made as a silent as there are few fades, actors do not "wait" for imagined title cards to pop up, or otherwise stall the action as is sometimes seen in talkies made both ways. If you had the means to fix it, however -- all of the original soundtrack, including the right takes -- you would probably remove the element that is the most interesting thing about "Dance Hall." If you were teaching a film class and wanted to show the students how important sound editors are, and how a bad one could really screw up a picture, then this is the perfect vehicle for that.

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