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On Your Toes (1939)

 -  Music | Comedy  -  14 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 123 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 1 critic

A young hoofer quits vaudeville to become a composer and hooks up with a Russian ballet troupe.



(screen play by), (screen play by), 5 more credits »
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On Your Toes (1927)
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Director: Fred C. Newmeyer
Stars: Reginald Denny, Barbara Worth, Hayden Stevenson


Complete credited cast:
Vera Zorina ...
Vera Barnova
Phil Dolan Jr.
Sergei Alexandrovitch
Frank McHugh ...
Paddy Reilly
Phil Dolan Sr.
Leonid Kinskey ...
Ivan Boultonoff
Gloria Dickson ...
Peggy Porterfield
Queenie Smith ...
Mrs. Dolan
Erik Rhodes ...
Konstantin Morrisine
Berton Churchill ...
Donald Henderson
Phil Jr. as a Boy
Sarita Wooton ...
Vera as a Girl (as Sarita Wooten)


Junior Donal, an ex-vaudevillian now teaching music at Knickerbocker University in New York, enlists to help of patroness Peggy Portefield to persuade Sergei Alexandrovich, the director of the Russian Ballet, to stage a friend's jazzy "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" ballet. Junior becomes involved with the company's prima ballerina, Vera Barnova, and even takes over the male lead in "Slaughter". This so enrages Vera's lover and regular dancing partner that he hires two thugs to kill Junior while he is performing on stage. Written by Alessandro Martini <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Music | Comedy


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Dançarina Russa  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"On Your Toes" was adapted from a Broadway musical that opened at the Imperial Theater in New York on April 11, 1936 and ran for 315 performances. Ray Bolger starred in the original stage production. The musical was revived on Broadway in 1954 and 1983. See more »

Crazy Credits

Lorenz Hart, the lyricist for the original Broadway show, receives onscreen credit, but his lyrics are never sung at all in the film. See more »


On Your Toes
Music by Richard Rodgers
Played by the orchestra as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

Emasculated Adaptation Of A Great Show
18 April 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

On Your Toes was one of Richard Rodgers&Lorenz Hart's best Broadway musicals and a landmark show in that it was one of the first to integrate ballet into the plot. Georges Balanchine did the choreography for the production that ran 315 performances in the 1936- 1937 season and was responsible for making Ray Bolger a star and getting him to Hollywood through MGM.

So when they were buying Bolger why didn't Louis B. Mayer buy the show as well? Because of that and probably because Mayer was asking too much for Bolger for Jack Warner, Eddie Albert was put in the lead.

But if we couldn't get Bolger, Jack Warner had the best guy possible for the role of Philip Dolan, III. I can't believe James Cagney didn't lobby like a madman for this role with Warner. He'd have much preferred to do this instead of The Oklahoma Kid or The Roaring Twenties, classic Cagney parts that they are.

The big hit of On Your Toes was the instrumental ballet Slaughter On Tenth Avenue, the music was played everywhere in the late Thirties. It is the center piece of the film as well, it has to be because such Rodgers&Hart classics as There's A Small Hotel and Quiet Nights are only heard as background music. The only other song which was to demonstrate Albert as vaudeville hoofer was Oh You Beautiful Doll.

I think it's a miracle that On Your Toes came out as good as it did on screen with an emasculation of the Rodgers&Hart score and the fact that the best guy on the lot for the part was passed over if they couldn't get the guy who introduced it on stage. The Brothers Warner did field some of their best character actors with such people as Frank McHugh, Leonid Kinskey, Alan Hale, and Erik Rhodes in the cast. A film that has these four guys in it has something going for it.

Vera Zorina plays the prima ballerina who it turns out knew Albert as a lad back in vaudeville days. Her ballet numbers do remain intact and show why she was THE ballerina back in the day.

But what a classic this would have been if James Cagney had done the lead and more Rodgers&Hart had been retained.

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