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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>
Ironically, in later years, star Lucille Ball, would actually buy the RKO (the company that made this film) sound stages and back lot. The former RKO real estate was incorporated into the Desilu empire. See more »
Go on, laugh, get your money's worth. No-one's going to hurt you. I know you want me to tear my clothes off so you can look your fifty cents' worth. Fifty cents for the privilege of staring at a girl the way your wives won't let you. What do you suppose we think of you up here with your silly smirks your mothers would be ashamed of? We know it'd the thing of the moment for the dress suits to come and laugh at us too. We'd laugh right back at the lot of you, only we're paid to let you sit there ...
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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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