Judy O'Brien is an aspiring ballerina in a dance troupe. Also in the company is Bubbles, a brash mantrap who leaves the struggling troupe for a career in burlesque. When the company ... See full summary »
Judy O'Brien is an aspiring ballerina in a dance troupe. Also in the company is Bubbles, a brash mantrap who leaves the struggling troupe for a career in burlesque. When the company disbands, Bubbles gives Judy a thankless job as her stooge. The two eventually clash when both fall for the same man. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Directed by a woman (!) in 1940 (!) and written by a team of two women and a man, "Dance, Girl, Dance" tackles a central plot explored later in "Flashdance" and "Dance With Me" (also directed by a woman, Randa Haines) - the serious dancer struggling for identity in a cheap, commercialized world.
Artistic dancer Judy is forced to sleaze it up as a stripper to earn a living. But she refuses to sacrifice either her dignity or her dreams. Lucy's a hoot as a whore in a rare big-screen appearance before her TV show. And Maria Ouspenskaya of the Chaney Jr. werewolf pics is hysterical as Judy's ballet teacher. "When ze moon iz full my child yu vill do plies!" Well, she doesn't actually say that, but she might as well.
The strengths of "Dance, Girl, Dance" lie in Arzner's telling the story of an emancipated, free-thinking American woman discovering and flexing her muscles of independence. O'Hara gives a rousing performance as Judy. Her onstage tongue-lashing of the trenchcoat wearing men in her audience is a speech equal to Jimmy "Mr. Smith" Stewart's Washington address.
While much of the dialogue and editing crackle with the wit of 40s screwball comedy, Arzner masterfully turned her camera to dramatic insights and crafted a true American gem, one of the most underrated classics of its day.
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