|Index||3 reviews in total|
Britain. Mid Fifties. A worthless opportunist pushes his wife to become
a prima ballerina while all the time he is cheating on her with another
dancer. She finds out about his affair and drives off, only to crash in
a near fatal accident. The doctors tell her that she will never dance
again. The husband leaves her and their child to do a Continental
European and American tour with his new meal-ticket lover. A
sympathetic doctor helps the ex-ballerina to recover (falling in love
with her in the process - as they always do) and the daughter becomes a
dance prodigy. Mum teaches her all she knows. The husband, now
Hollywood talent scout, returns to Britain, having dumped his lover in
New York. His producer thinks the little girl is just perfect for his
new picture and threatens to fire Dad if he can't get his Mum to sign a
contract. Dad tries to blackmail his wife by sending the babysitter
home and spreading rumours about her and the Nice Doctor. The house
catches fire putting the little girl's life in danger and Dad
heroically saves her loosing his own life in the process.
Predictable, stolid movie equivalent of a 'Women's Own' short story. Wet Sunday afternoon fare if you have nothing better to do - which I obviously haven't.
Professionaly enough made, though the finale is ludicrous. Here's the situation: The little girl is trapped on roof of the burning building "No-one can reach her" the crowd of onlookers tell each other. Dad runs into the next building, climbs up, runs past two firefighters waving a hose around jumps across the 4 foot!! gap between the buildings, picks her up, wraps her in his jacket (why?) then THROWS her across to one of the firemen. Why he would think that this brave firefighter who has been unable to get across so ludicrously small a gap will be able to catch and hold a girl, loosely wrapped in an over-sized, unsecured jacket is beyond me - but then people do do stupid things in moments of crisis (and mediocre British films). Dad then does that stupid 'throwing his arms in the air, bad silent-movie acting' thing as the roof collapses beneath him and he plunges to his implied doom. I say 'implied' because the film making is so shaky at this point an onlooker's voice has to shout "look out! the roof is collapsing" to let us know what is happening.
Some of the acting in this film is so ritualised and formulaic it is like watching a Japanese Noh play or Indian Dancing. Watch out for the Mum's "Great British turn away to show suppressed emotion" that she does when the little girl asks from her hospital bed if Daddy is "all right?". This is followed immediately by a near perfect "Shoulder touch of support and unrequited love" by the doctor. Classic Bad British Movie Acting moves of their time.
DANCE LITTLE LADY is a stodgy, mid-'50s melodrama about a couple of
warring parents who fight for possession of their daughter, a ballet
prodigy who's destined for greatness. This is no KRAMER VS. KRAMER,
that's for sure; the whole film is slow-paced and overly acted with
lots of mannerisms and the like. Plus, it's padded out with endless
balletic sequences, which are fun but made me long for the delights of
The film stars Terence Morgan as the hard-headed father. Morgan was in the same year's (much better) SVENGALI but he doesn't have too much to work with here - if you want to see him as an effective bad guy, check out Hammer's CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB. The somewhat ubiquitous Mai Zetterling (THE WITCHES) is the stressed-out mother, and the directorial duties are handled by the also ubiquitous Val Guest, although it's not one of his better efforts.
The problem with DANCE LITTLE LADY is that it's rather stodgy and slow. There's little sympathy for the talented daughter at the centre of the story and scenes of the parents fighting get tiresome very quickly. Plus, there seem to be too many extraneous sub-plots and characters merely designed to pad out the running time. The only bit I can say I enjoyed was the ending. Watch out for the likes of the lovely Eunice Gayson in support, alongside minor turns from Joan Hickson, Marianne Stone, and even Richard O'Sullivan and Jane Asher as kids.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is yet another example of what audiences were prepared to stand for as late as the mid-fifties. The moment he enters the film Terence Morgan more or less has a tee shirt bearing the logo I'm the heavy; control freak, adulterer, chancer. Somehow before the film opens he has latched on to Mai Zetterling, become her 'manager' and maneuvered her to success as a ballet dancer whilst sleeping with another dancer in the same company. They also have a young daughter who wants to follow in mother's footsteps. At a party Zetterling sees him kissing his mistress and leaves the party. He follows her, persuades her to get in the car, they quarrel and he hits another car. Zetterling breaks her leg and is told she will never dance again. Now without a meal ticket Morgan fires the nanny, sends the daughter to live with Zetterling's dance teacher, sells the house and lights out for the U.S.A. with his mistress. The dancing teacher offers Zetterling a job teaching ballet to young girls, including her daughter. The doctor who treated her becomes a family friend and falls in love with her. Everything in the garden is rosy until Morgan comes back. He's now a talent scout for a Hollywood producer and guess what; the producer wants to sign Morgan's daughter and Morgan is only too happy to do whatever it takes to force Zetterling to sign the contract. Basically we're talking garbage.
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