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The Red Shoes (1948)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  6 September 1948 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 18,976 users  
Reviews: 133 user | 129 critic

A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.


(fairy tale), (original screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marius Goring ...
Jean Short ...
Gordon Littmann ...
Julia Lang ...
A Balletomane
Bill Shine ...
Her Mate
Léonide Massine ...
Ljubov (as Leonide Massine)
Anton Walbrook ...
Austin Trevor ...
Prof. Palmer
Eric Berry ...
Irene Browne ...
Lady Neston
Irina Boronskaja (as Ludmilla Tcherina)
Jerry Verno ...
Stage-Door Keeper
Ivan Boleslawsky


Under the authoritarian rule of charismatic ballet impressario Boris Lermontov, his proteges realize the full promise of their talents, but at a price: utter devotion to their art and complete loyalty to Lermontov himself. Under his near-obsessive guidance, young ballerina Victoria Page is poised for superstardom, but earns Lermontov's scorn when she falls in love with Julian Craster, composer of "The Red Shoes," the ballet Lermontov is staging to showcase her talents. Vicky leaves the company and marries Craster, but still finds herself torn between Lermontov's demands and those of her heart. Written by Paul Penna <tterrace@wco.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Between her art ... and her dreams ... was her heart See more »


Drama | Music | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

6 September 1948 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Las zapatillas rojas  »

Box Office


£500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Anton Walbrook's character of Lermontov was generally thought to be based on ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the man behind Vaslav Nijinsky. In 1913, after learning that Nijinsky had married his prima ballerina, Romola de Pulszky, Diaghilev fired them both from the Ballet Russes. In the film, Lermentov's constant firing of dancers who fall in love is a parallel of this. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, however, were more inclined to say that Lermentov was a representation of their first main mentor, Alexander Korda. See more »


Near the end, when Vicky is getting ready to go on stage for "The Red Shoes" once again, she's wearing the red dancing shoes as she hesitates. But that play starts with the white dancing shoes; only during the play does her character find the red shoes and put them on.

However, this is not an accidental goof. This is essential to the plot and the director wants us to overlook this detail so that all the symbolism of Vicky wearing those red shoes while "unable to stop dancing" can be fully explored. See more »


[first lines]
[holding doors closed]
Doorman: They're going mad, sir. It's the students.
[From outside]
Julian Craster: Down with tyrants!
Manager, Covent Garden: All right, let them in.
See more »


Featured in The Screen Writer (1950) See more »


(Dance Music)
Music by Brian Easdale
Performed by Ted Heath's Kenny Baker Swing Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

(Top 10 pick) A superior film.
22 April 1999 | by (Marietta, GA, USA) – See all my reviews

I first heard of "The Red Shoes" when I read the liner notes to an album by the jazz/fusion group Weather Report, called "Tale Spinnin'". Therein it said that saxophonist Wayne Shorter had seen the film a few dozen times. Intrigued, I watched it when I noticed it in the TV listings. What a discovery!

With its focus on the tangle of lives of a ballerina, a composer, and a dictatorial impresario who uses them both, the story may have elements of a soap opera, but it's a superior soap opera. What appealed to Shorter, I'm sure, is the film's depiction of the artists' creative process. It may have been done better elsewhere, but I haven't seen it. Besides that, it's beautifully directed, beautifully photographed and sumptuous to look at throughout. The surreal title ballet is performed in a segment that is stunning, and I'm not just using that word as a cliche.

Anton Walbrook stands out as Lermontov, leader of the ballet troupe. There are many real-life artists from the ballet world in the film, including Leonide Massine and Robert Helpmann. Massine is particularly effective.

Don't be put off by the notion that this is some effete art film; it's high quality AND accessible. Anyone who enjoys art (especially ballet), romance or just plain good moviemaking owes it to themselves to see it.

56 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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