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Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)

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After the death of her father and loss of the family fortune, Bonnie gets a job as a cub reporter while her brother becomes involved in bootlegging.



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Title: Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)

Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) on IMDb 5.9/10

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Complete credited cast:
Lester Vail ...
Bert Scranton
William Holden ...
Stanley Jordan
Jake Luva
Earle Foxe ...
Wally (as Earl Foxe)
Purnell Pratt ...
Parker (as Purnell B. Pratt)
Hale Hamilton ...
Natalie Moorhead ...
Joan Marsh ...
Russell Hopton ...


After her father Stanley Jordan loses his wealth in market, Bonnie goes to work as a cub reporter. Her brother Rodney is the wheel man in a gangland massacre. Bert, a reporter on Bonnie's paper, is murdered while investigating. Bonnie gets to know gang leader Jake Luva and learns how the gang works and that her brother is involved. By the time it's over her wealthy friend Bob sees how wonderful she is and falls in love with her for good. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 February 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dance, Fools, Dance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Dance, Fools, Dance" is clearly based on two infamous incidents in Chicago crime history: the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre in a garage and the June 9, 1930 murder of Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle, shot while heading to a train station.However, unlike the movie's Bert Scranton, Lingle was a shady character who played both sides of the law and had parlayed a $65 a week salary into a $60,000 income. In journalistic terms Lingle was known as a legman who would telephone in the salient details of the story which would be actually written by a rewrite man. This is what happens when Crawford's Bonnie phones in her story after the shootout. See more »


When Rodney comes into the yacht cabin to find Bonnie blow-drying her hair, she looks up at him and her hair is a frizzy mess. In the very next shot, her hair is perfectly styled. See more »


Bonnie: The auction's on full wing... going, going, gawne!
Rodney: It's a tough break being left stranded like this. Why, we're paupers!
Bonnie: [She giggles] Well, there's no use crying about it. Buck up! Put on your spurs and get up and give the world a battle.
[She pushes his head affectionately]
Bonnie: Swat 'em in the head.
Rodney: Yeah? Just how?
Bonnie: Go to work. I'm not afraid.
Rodney: You afraid?
Rodney: What could you do?... open up a tea shoppie? Bonnie Jordan's orange pekoe blend! Go to it!
See more »


Featured in Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star (2002) See more »


Little White Lies
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Played offscreen in the nightclub after Bonnie's dance
See more »

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User Reviews

Crawford holds up melodrama turned gangster picture
14 February 2012 | by (Minnesota) – See all my reviews

The opening scenes of Dance, Fools, Dance paint a picture of spoiled rich kids Joan Crawford and her brother William Bakewell. Neither has apparently completed school or ever done anything worthwhile. Their father—who worked his own way up to wealth from the bottom—is worried. Joan smokes before breakfast; her brother buys liquor by the suitcase. The height of adventure and success for Joan is a yacht party where she boldly talks everyone into skinny dipping (well, stripping down to their underwear) out on the ocean.

The father dies and it turns out he's broke; the picture turns to chapter two, or, How will the spoiled kids survive? –Well, the brother finds work with a bootlegging mob, and Joan gets a job as a cub reporter. (Influential friend of the family helps her out,, she's not remotely qualified, but shows a knack for the work right away!) Rather quickly, the brother finds himself over his head in the sordid business of bootlegging...and Joan, eager for a real story instead of the tea parties she's initially assigned to, takes guessed it, the mob.

There's more to it than that, including Joan's sometime boyfriend (Lester Vail), who half-heartedly offers to marry her when her fortune goes kaput and hangs around when she sets off to make her own success; and Cliff Edwards as the veteran reporter who mentors Joan at the paper but hears too much for his own good at a speakeasy.

Clark Gable is riveting as boss gangster Jake Luva; pre-mustache, the swagger is already there. His first scene features a cigarette-lighting routine with girlfriend Natalie Moorhead (excellent in a tiny role as the soon-to-be discarded moll): he blows smoke in her face, she blows out his lighter, and they hold a stare for a lingering shot that speaks more about their characters' relationship than any of their dialog even attempts.

Midway through the story you have a pretty clear idea of where the plot is going to go….but the second half of the picture is still livelier than the first: at least the characters have some purpose in the second half. Crawford is especially good: she is always at the center as the picture revolves through her relationships with the various men in her life—lover, brother, mentor, gangster.

Joan also gets in one good dance—undercover as a chorus girl, she sees her former rich kid friends in the audience and really puts on a number.

No classic as far as plot goes, or dialog…but worth seeing for Crawford's performance.

Research question: How would a 1931 movie audience have been impressed by spoiled rich girl Crawford flashing an electric hair dryer?

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