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Born to Dance (1936)

Passed | | Musical, Comedy | 27 November 1936 (USA)
Sailor Ted meets at the Lonely Hearts Club of his friend Gunny's wife, Jenny, a girl, Nora Paige, and falls in love. Nora wants to become a dancer on Broadway. Ted rescues the Pekinese of ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lucy James
Jenny Saks
Sid Silvers ...
'Gunny' Saks
'Peppy' Turner
Captain Dingby
'Mush' Tracy
Sally Saks
Georges ...
Jalna ...
J. Marshall Smith ...
Member of The Foursome


Sailor Ted meets at the Lonely Hearts Club of his friend Gunny's wife, Jenny, a girl, Nora Paige, and falls in love. Nora wants to become a dancer on Broadway. Ted rescues the Pekinese of Lucy James, a Broadway star during a public relations campaign on his submarine. Lucy falls in love with Ted, and Ted is ordered by his Captain to meet her in a night club, in spite of the fact that he has a date with Nora. Nora, who lives with Jenny and her and Gunny's daughter, doesn't want to hear anything from Ted, after she spotted a picture of Ted and Lucy in the morning paper. Lucy convinces her manager Dinehart to stop the press campaign and tells him that she would leave the production, if another photo or article of her and Ted is published. Nora has become her understudy, and she begins to think her behaviour to Ted over. Suddenly she is fired after Dinehart told her to dance a number Lucy James called undanceable. But when Ted is told the whole story, he knows what to do. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


M*G*M's successor to "THE GREAT ZIEGFELD" See more »


Musical | Comedy


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 November 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'amiral mène la danse  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the "I Got You Under My Skin" musical number in this film audiences see for the first time on film The Sparton Model 566 1936 model of the "Bluebird Radio," (issued the year before), arguably the most important radio of the art deco era. See more »


The opening scene is set aboard a submarine entering New York Harbor while submerged at periscope depth. Her skipper would have brought her in while surfaced - the risk of collision in a busy port is substantial. See more »


McKay's Telephone Operator: [on phone with her friend] Oh say guess who I seen at Club Continental last night? Lucy James with that sailor she met through a Pekingese. Believe me he's a sea-goin' thrill if I ever seen one. What's he like? Well, tall - sort of the answer to a maiden's prayer on stilts. Honest he must be six feet four and that's just two inches shorter than a totem pole. Oh but he's got a smile like concentrated vodka. Vodka! Oh it's a Japanese drink made out of panther blood I think.
See more »


Featured in I Dood It (1943) See more »


I've Got You Under My Skin
(1936) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Danced by Georges and Jalna
Sung by Virginia Bruce
Played also as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

The Navy Meets Broadway
28 December 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

With Born to Dance MGM succeeded in combining two musical types, the sailor story with the Broadway opening night story. Although the plot is down right silly, that hardly makes Born to Dance unique back in its day. What you take from it is the wonderful singing and dancing and the glossy production values of an MGM musical.

And of course Cole Porter's score. It contains two of his most beloved standards, Easy to Love and I've Got You Under My Skin. The rest of the score is serviceable for the plot. I particularly like Hey Babe Hey in which all the principals of the plot participate. How they got James Stewart to dance must have been a challenge.

Of course Born to Dance is famous for Easy to Love being introduced by James Stewart. Stewart had always maintained that the proof of Easy to Love being a great song is that it survived his singing of it to become a great popular standard. His singing is adequate, but for the life of me, I'll never understand why Allan Jones who was up for the part wasn't picked. Especially since I've heard Allan Jones's contemporary recording of Easy to Love. Stewart is all right, but the part isn't exactly a stretch for his thespian talents and for cryin' out loud, Jones was one of the best movie singers ever.

The other standard is introduced by Virginia Bruce, spoiled mantrap of a Broadway musical star who takes a shine to Stewart after he saves her Pekingese from drowning while Bruce is visiting his ship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Bruce sings I've Got You Under My Skin directly to Stewart with a come hither glance to lure him from Eleanor Powell who is her show's understudy.

Borrowing from Hit the Deck with a plot of three sailors and three civilian women, Born to Dance pairs off Stewart with Powell, Buddy Ebsen with Frances Langford, and Sid Silvers with Una Merkel. Raymond Walburn is at his avuncular best as the ship's captain who keeps entrusting Silvers and Ebsen to deliver a message to the Admiral and they keep getting sidetracked by their women.

With Powell as the understudy to Bruce and them both vying for Stewart, you can readily guess how this story will resolve itself. Eleanor dances divinely, especially in the finale number Swinging the Jinx Away which Frances Langford sings and Buddy Ebsen also dances.

With all the talent involved and a plot which is a walking cliché, but easy to take, it's easy to love Born to Dance as I do.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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