Dance with Me, Henry (1956) Poster

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A sad end to a great career
frankfob23 June 2002
This film has the reputation of being the team's worst, and it may well be (it's a toss-up between this one and "A&C Go to Mars"), but even if it isn't the worst movie they ever made, it's definitely the saddest. Both Bud and Lou were old and ill, and their timing, which was at one time absolutely awe-inspiring, is pretty much gone. They show their age, especially Costello, and don't seem to have the heart for the work anymore. It's not just the boys who are tired, though. The script is lame, limp, and absolutely brainless, and they must have realized it because they brought in Charles Barton, who was responsible for their best films, to direct it, hoping that he could make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. He couldn't. A previous poster has said that it's painful to watch this film, and he's absolutely right--it breaks your heart to see how far the two had deteriorated, both physically and professionally. The producers must have known what a dog this movie was because, in a desperate and pathetic attempt to attract younger viewers--always Abbott & Costello's core audience--they changed the title to "Dance With Me, Henry", which was the name of a popular song at the time and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything that happens in the film itself.

All in all, a sad, depressing end to the career of one of the best comedy teams in film history.
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Farewell To A&C
bkoganbing15 June 2008
In 1955 after Abbott&Costello Meet The Mummy, Bud and Lou finished their long stint with Universal Pictures. They did one more film, an independent released by United Artists titled Dance With Me Henry.

The title comes from a hit song of the time that her nibs, Miss Georgia Gibbs had a hit record of. It's heard instrumentally at some points in the film. The film has a role reversal of sorts, Bud is a shiftless gambler who owes some big money to gangster Ted DeCorsia because of some bad bets and Lou is the owner of a small amusement park, beloved by the kids especially the orphans from a home run by Father Frank Wilcox. Lou being the good hearted soul that he is takes Bud in.

But the gangsters want their money from Bud and if not they want him to go to work for them on some jobs like a bank heist they pulled just recently. Lou arranges to meet the District Attorney Robert Shayne and tell him what he knows. But then at the amusement park the DA is killed by DeCorsia's chief henchman Richard Reeves and Reeves also hides the loot from the job because he's planning a double cross.

It's quite a jackpot the boys have themselves in, but there's a providence that watches out over innocents in films. And in Dance With Me Henry, Lou is almost Stan Laurel like in his innocence.

That's what's missing in Dance With Me Henry. The old burlesque routines that one expects from an Abbott&Costello film just aren't here for their fans to savor. Abbott who's usually a sharpie and always putting stuff over on Costello is the idiot here and it doesn't wear well on him. He's also put on a lot of pounds and he's almost as rotund as Costello. Lou's character is something new, as if he was trying to explore new vistas.

The film didn't go over so good and the boys split up the following year. And Lou would do one solo feature film before his demise two years later. Dance With Me Henry is not a horrible film, but it just isn't what I and other fans came to expect from Bud and Lou. They deserved something better as a farewell.
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Last Abbott & Costello movie is underrated and by no means their worst.
JoeKarlosi3 June 2005
**1/2 out of ****

I think Abbott and Costello's last movie together is underrated. It's not among their finest, but they made less amusing movies together, and there still are some chuckles to be had here. At the time of production, Lou was reported as saying that the days of slapstick were over for them, and that both men were interested in actually doing more serious and emotional types of roles. But DANCE WITH ME, HENRY is obviously still a comedy even though it tries hard to inject some dramatic issues and sentiment along the way.

Lou Henry (Costello) operates "Kiddyland", a little amusement park, where he allows his drinking and gambling pal Bud Flick (Abbott) to work so his friend can pay off a huge debt he owes to a group of gangsters. Meanwhile, Lou is trying to gain custody of two orphan kids, but Bud's constant turmoil with the criminals keeps getting in the way.

Yes, it's obvious that the comedy team is older now, but they still have their moments in a few humorous scenes interacted together. I wouldn't say this A&C Swan Song is at all bad or unwatchable. The title of the film, which was named after a forgotten song that used to be popular and which has nothing to do with the story, doesn't help matters.
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"Tell them I bruise easy."
classicsoncall31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Sad, very sad. I was a big time Abbott and Costello fan as a kid growing up in the Fifties, never missing an opportunity to catch one of their films on TV. The 'Monster' films were the best and they had others that entertained, but "Dance With Me, Henry" was a disappointing swan song. I never saw this one before today, so maybe my judgment would be a little different if I had some wistful memory of it from back in the day. Just about everything that made the comedy team click is missing here. There's no snappy dialog, none of the familiar routines, and the pair are completely out of character from their previous pairings. Lou is cast as a good guy, an adoptive Dad who's trying to raise a couple of kids while running an amusement park called Candyland. Bud on the other hand is an alcoholic and a gambler, so right out of the gate there's no basis for the type of comedy that the boys built their careers on. Occasional forays into slapstick get muddled by the story line involving gangsters and the murder of a district attorney, not exactly the kind of light hearted fare that A&C fans would have been used to. The picture is at it's best near the finale when a boat load of youngsters get involved in frustrating the bad guys at Candyland and saving the day for Lou and his young wards. The young boy Duffer I immediately recognized as Rusty Hamer from the Danny Thomas series 'Make Room For Daddy'. Checking the IMDb profile for Gigi Perreau, daughter Shelley in the story, I was surprised to see that she's still active with a film credit as recently as 2011. If you're an Abbott and Costello fan, I wouldn't try to steer you away from the movie because it's not terrible, it's just not very entertaining. Personally, I'll keep my fond memories of the boys from their earlier pictures where they delighted millions of fans all over the world.
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One of their better movies in my opinion
solcpr15 April 2009
I actually found this really entertaining. I have watched nearly all of their films and this one is really interesting. The humour is less forced and has a more natural flow than in their earlier films. Abbott is not so much the straight man here but very funny himself. His delivery is impeccable. Lou has lost a lot of the silly over the top humour which IMO is better especially as they are older. The later films like this one and the mummy I find the most entertaining. The humour was a natural part of the plot not and did not contain over the top gags that were not in keeping with the flow of the film. Also, the characters of Abbott and Costello are more central to the plot.

The more I watch Abbott and Costello the more these later films appeal to me.

A pity they ended their partnership too soon.
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Sad, but worth watching.
medrjel25 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This is by far one of their least works, but it did provide 2 major things that make it worth watching. No real spoilers except for who the characters are.

First, we see Lou Costello as a strong leader. He is a Widower father raising his kids. He owns/operates a carnival. He helps his drunken friend. He still has a genuine good streak and has that child-like love for life. He is a straight man, and he pulls it off.

Then, Bud Abbott is a drunken louse. He is weak, and is easily led by Lou throughout the adventures, though his love for the bottle is evident and causes major problems.

This isn't the only movie that they exchange "roles", but it is a good example of the talents these men had. The story is weak, and the ending contrived, but give it a shot. If you are a fan of theirs, you will enjoy it just for the role reversals. If you are not into cinema history or these actors, this is one worth skipping for now.
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Abbott and Costello's Last Movie
steve5plums14 August 2005
Dance With Me Henry was Abbott and Costello's last movie together and because of that I felt it was interesting to watch. Was it a good movie for Abbott and Costello? Not really as I would rate it as only fair. However, I don't judge it as harshly as others. I thought Lou Costello looked pretty good in the movie, but it was Bud Abbott who looked a little wore out. I don't blame Bud so much because I believe his part was poorly written. He wasn't able to get into that playful verbal banter that made the boys famous because his part of a gambler seemed kind of awkward for what was going on in the movie. Overall, I think this movie should be watched by Abbott and Costello fans just to see the boys in their final movie even though most would rank it lower than most of their other movies.
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Dance With Me Henry A Tribute to Great Comedy Team ***
edwagreen26 August 2008
While this 1956 film isn't a masterpiece, it's no slouch either as it showcases for the last time the talent of Abbott and Costello together as a comedy team.

Running an amusement park, Abbott is up to his ears in debt and is beholden to the mob. Costello has 2 adopted children, a character of a social worker played by Mary Wickes, wants to take them away and invariably Costello gets blamed for the shooting death of the D.A.

While the zany two's usual antics are missing, this is a fun film made enjoyable by the appearances of Gigi Perreau and Rusty Hamer. (Make Room for Daddy.) Ted de Corsia is at his best when he plays a gangster and he is no exception here.
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Their final film...
Russell Dodd13 July 1999
I am writing this for the fans who have not yet seen it. Made in '56, The boys show their age as they did from 1953. It opens with a shot of Costello running down the road to the ophanage to reclaim his foster son Duffer after some sort of falling out. Once they make up, in walks Abbott. They do an exchange which isn't really funny and makes you yearn for the days when Lou's facial expressions alone could send you into hysterics. It turns out that one of the rides in Costello's fun fair, kiddyland has malfunctioned and Abbott doesn't know how to stop the machine. All it requires is for Costello to throw the switch (which for some reason is hidden behind a trap door.) And so it goes on. Miss Mayberry who represents the welfare board wants to take Lou's foster children back into care, Abbott's gambling debts have got into trouble with local hood 'Big Frank' and now he has been ordered to carry marked money to Chicago. When Abbott tells Costello this, Costello phones up the D.A and asks to meet one of their men in kiddyland late, thinking that this will help with his case with the welfare board. Big Frank arranges Abbott to meet with one of his men also in Kiddyland.(Do these guys not use their hideout?) The gangster and the D.A arrive at the same time and the D.A gets shot. Abbott naturally manipulates the converstion with the police and subsequentely Costello gets the blame for the murder and is arrested even though when the police turn up, Abbott is holding a hammer. After Costello is released, he is kidnapped and with Abbott, forced to go to Kiddyland to locate the money. It all concludes with a homealone style finale with loads of kids, who, at the drop of a hat manage to sneak away from home, helping the boys out and eventually catching the crooks. Alls well that ends well.

This old fashioned film wasn't quite as bad as one of their other films. When you think of all the 'trendy' films Martin and Lewis made during the last 6 years one wonders why A+C didn't try to branch out further. Lou Costello was once the funniest man on the earth - no doubt about that. Tragically, due to ill health his vitality was robbed and this was the end product. It would of been better played straight. Abbott had all the best lines and I thought he was rather good. Though gone are the days of Rio Rita, Hold that Ghost and Buck Privates, the (reportedly)sixty one year old comedian gave a better performance than in recent vehicles. Costello who for some reason had not been given any funny lines at all, seems to try and impress the audiences by shaking his head while looking down at a telephone and repeating the phrase'Oh my!' The gangsters who played it straight somehow turn 'lite' and manage to fall victim to the children's pranks. One of them gets whacked in the shins, one of them gets tripped up, one of them gets squirted by a water pistol etc...

It's known for their worst, which I disagree. ...Go to mars was worse than this. This film is, obviously of more interest to the fans who wish to see how this once great comedy team came to close their motion picture curtain. Tragic.
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A Painful Experience!
jimddddd27 July 2001
Watching "Dance With Me Henry," I felt as if I were trapped in some kind of purgatory. There is nothing funny or entertaining about this film. It simply goes on and on, interminably, with no suspense or narrative drive. The characters are cardboard, the dialogue wooden, the pacing leaden. Because of the film's title, I kept expecting the song "Dance With Me, Henry" to be part of the story, but it was only hinted at in the incidental music and sung, very briefly, by a minor character in one throw-away scene. Otherwise, there was no point to the title. I say this because "Dance With Me Henry" by Georgia Gibbs was a #1 hit in 1955. It was a whitewashed cover of a #1 R&B song by Etta James called "Roll With Me, Henry," which in turn was an answer to Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie," the biggest-selling rhythm & blues record of 1954. I have no idea why Abbott & Costello would finish out their career with a movie that took the title of a popular song and then throw that song away. In any event, I would rather sit through 100 spins of Georgia Gibbs' dreary "Dance With Me, Henry" than have to watch this horrible movie again.
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No dancing around Henry's title.....
captainbijou26 January 2008
Contrary to popular belief, the title of this film was not changed. The December 21, 1955 issue of the New York Times carried a story -- ABBOTT, COSTELLO SLATE NEW MOVIE -- which detailed the particulars about the projected project, including the title, DANCE WITH ME HENRY, producer and distributor credit and noted the film would start filming in March, 1956.

The song was a sanitized, pop cover by Georgia Gibbs of a suggestive 1955 Etta James R&B hit, THE WALLFLOWER -- written by Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard and James -- which was more popularly known as ROLL WITH ME, HENRY. Interestingly, THE WALLFLOWER was a follow-up song to Ballard's provocative 1954 hit, WORK WITH ME, ANNIE.
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Sad end to a legendary comedy duo's career
utgard144 July 2017
The last Abbott & Costello film. I feel like this would be bittersweet knowing that, no matter the quality. That it's not a good movie just makes it more depressing. The plot has Lou trying to adopt a couple of kids and Bud as a gambler in trouble with racketeers. None of this is fun. Of the two, Lou comes out best at trying to recapture the past magic. He doesn't totally succeed but there are moments at least. Bud seems tired, even zoned out in some scenes, and his voice is raspy which just gave me a case of the sads. This would be the last movie Bud made. Lou would do one solo movie before dying three years after this was released. The adoption part of the plot makes this whole film seem like a TV pilot instead of a regular A&C comedy. Also, there's quite a bit of corny 1950s teenager stuff, mocking the lingo and the music and so on. It's low-hanging fruit and even then the film can't get any laughs. That's this movie's main sin - it's just not funny. I didn't laugh once. Smiled a couple times but no laughs. Besides the failed comedy, there's quite a bit of serious stuff that's really more saccharine than dramatically challenging for anyone involved. All in all, it's not the worst movie I've ever seen but certainly the worst Abbott & Costello movie I've seen.
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Weak Exit for the Legends
Michael_Elliott31 December 2012
Dance with Me, Henry! (1956)

** (out of 4)

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's final picture together isn't quite as bad as its reputation but there's no question that both stars didn't appear to have their heart in it. Bud finds himself in trouble due to a gambling debt while Lou is trying to keep two orphans who he has been taking care of. Soon both sides are coming together as the boys must try and figure out a way to save themselves and the children. DANCE WITH ME, HENRY! has all sorts of problems including the boys wanting to try and do something a tad bit more serious. The problem with that here is that the serious side really isn't all that serious but instead it's more sugar-coated sentimental stuff that just comes off as fake and very forced. These scenes aren't really that funny when they try to be and they're not very dramatic when they try to be so they just really come across as flat. Another problem is that the comedy stuff really isn't up the high levels one would expect from the duo. I think Costello comes off the best as he at least gets a couple good one-liners and manages to come across decent but there's no denying that he has very little chemistry with Abbott. It really does seem like both of them weren't wanting to do this movie as their screen time together is mostly flat and just reminds you that much better times are to be found in earlier films. None of the supporting cast really jumps off the screen so this here doesn't help. If you're familiar with what was going on in both of their lives I think it's safe to say that making a movie wasn't a very high priority. Even though the relationship ends on a rather sour note, the two gave us so many great movies so this one here can be forgiven.
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Very Strained Humor Deflates A&C's Lasting Contribution to Comedy
movieman-20012 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Dance With Me Henry" (1956) is the last time Bud Abbott and Lou Costello shared billing in the movies. In truth, however, their tenure as leading comics had been dissolved some years before. Almost from the moment they set foot on the Universal back lot and made their debut film, 'One Night in the Tropics' (1941), theirs was a partnership of strained convenience in which Abbott always considered himself the superior comedian, so much so, that profits from all of their endeavors (radio/film, and later, television) were divided along a 60/40 split in Abbott's favor. On this occasion the two find themselves in yet another rehash of their earlier films, as Lou Henry (Costello) attempts to adopt two adorable children to help him run his Kiddyland amusement park. The local welfare authority in the form of Ms. Mayberry (Mary Wickes) will have something to say about that, and so will Lou's best friend, Bud (Abbott), who would rather run up a gambling debt with the mob than share his prosperity with a couple of kids. Throughout, the farcical elements are much too strained to be humorous. One can almost hear from just off camera, Abbott hollering something to the effect of "hurry up, stupid, I want to get paid." Charles Barton – a frequent participant on these collaborations, directs again, but with a sense that it's all been done before.

The transfer from MGM is surprisingly good – I say, surprisingly, because in general MGM/DVD isn't known for offering pristine transfers of classic movies. And although "Dance With Me Henry" is not pristine in terms of age related artifacts, its also not very far from it. The gray scale has been impeccably mastered with nice tonality, solid blacks and generally clean whites. Occasionally there's a hint of edge enhancement, but nothing that will terribly distract. There's also a hint of film grain, but this never becomes bothersome. The audio is mono but presented with great clarity and at an adequate listening level. There are NO extras.
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Interesting for A and C Fans, But Not Much Fun
jayraskin114 March 2009
It seemed to me that this was essentially a children's film. While A and C made films that children could watch and enjoy, I think this and "Jack and the Beanstalk" were the only two films they made which were explicitly for children.

The beginning ten minutes (good set-up of a potentially funny situation) and the last ten (imagine "Home-alone" with twenty kids) are fine, but the middle is quite flabby. There are no memorable routines and very few (about ten) funny lines.

Actually, I do not know if the producers had it in mind, but the movie works well as a pilot for a T.V. series. One can imagine all sorts of great sitcom possibilities with Lou as a bachelor trying to raise two kids while owning and operating a "Kiddie land" amusement park. When this was made, Danny Thomas's "Make Room for Daddy" had been a hit show running for three years and "Bachelor Father" was about to begin its run, so a "raising kids" comedies were the type of thing a network might buy. I suppose if it had done well as a movie, it could have been developed into a television series. So, I believe that it was rather a smart career choice for A and C.

Sherry Alberoni as Boopsi and Rusty Hamer are the two stand-out kid performers. Sherry is Shirley Temple cute trying to convince the cops that she witnessed a murder and Rusty Hamer is the nicest and sincerest boy actor of that period (Ron Howard did steal his crown a few years later).

A and C fans will savor a few well done moments,(the visit of the nasty welfare worker at the beginning, for example) but on the whole only their fans will be able to sit through it.

The last shot of the movie with Costello playing the pied-piper is delightful and cute. If the rest of the movie had been so, this movie would have revived A and C's careers and fortunes.
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Diabetics should check their glucose level before and after seeing this film!
MartinHafer26 August 2009
After seeing DANCE WITH ME HENRY and reading the reviews, I think folks have been way too kind to this film. I am sure most of it is because they love Abbott and Costello and so they want to love the film or at least treat it with great reverence because of this. I myself have seen every Abbott and Costello film and wanted to like this film, too, but can't bring myself to say anything nice about DANCE WITH ME HENRY.

The problem is that the script from start to finish is painfully unfunny. Now making a more serious film was not really the problem. LITTLE GIANT, after all, was a rather serious Abbott and Costello film and while the fans didn't like it, the film was well made and entertaining. If you see it today with an open mind, you can't help but appreciate the writing and especially Lou Costello's acting. However, not being funny is only the tip of the iceberg with DANCE WITH ME HENRY. The more serious problem is that the film is 100% saccharine--too sickeningly sweet for consumption. Watching this film could easily send diabetics into comas--it's THAT over-the-top sweet. With all the cute little kids and with a whole new persona for Lou Costello (sort of like a social worker and Pied Piper rolled into one), it's very sticky going. In this film, Lou isn't dumb at all--but the owner of "Happyland" amusement park who adores kids and takes in two orphans. Now I know I'll upset a few people with this observation, but isn't this all a bit creepy?! A single man devotes his life to hanging around kids, owning an amusement park, taking in kids.....this sounds very, very weird--like a recruitment film for pedophiles. I am sure that was NOT the intentions of the film makers but here in the 21st century, I could easily see people getting that impression--how could they not?!

Please rest assured I do not hate Abbott and Costello. My comments are more because I am frustrated that this film was so bad and all attempts at humor were out the window. You can't just say Bud and Lou were old and they couldn't do any better. Remember, the year before they made ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (I gave this one an 8) and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY (I gave this one a 7). So, they were capable of still being funny and entertaining and still had a lot to give. Too bad they had such an awful script and you wonder what Bud and Lou thought about this. Could they have wanted it to end this way?

Overall, here's how I see the film: Bud's acting (5), Lou's acting (4), the direction/timing in the film (2) and the writing (-5). You just can't make a good comedy with a bum script and indifferent directing. They deserved better than this--and so did the audience.
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final A & C, worth seeing
beauzee28 December 2014
the marx brothers and laurel and hardy and their fans suffered thru mediocre final films and Abboott & Costello were no different.

DANCE WITH ME, HENRY (title and tune based upon an early Etta James cover of a hank Ballard tune) has none of those records' energy but it is certainly more energetic - and better - than the critics have said it was.

number one: the story, although overly sentimental, is fun (Lou is a kind of local "pied piper" and protector of "lost" kids, always ducking and dodging the local social workers) but our heros get a chance to do a little more *acting* (Bud is effective as a real down and outer, not the usual conniver).

directed by SUPERMAN (TV) Director Charles Barton. and if U R a fan of the Danny Thomas Show, you'll see Rusty Hamer, a year or so before it premiered!
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