Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Starring: Joan Crawford, Franchot Tone, Clark Gable
The same year Warner Brothers release 42nd Street (1933) MGM came out with Dancing Lady, a backstage musical complete with a Busby Berkeley style finale. If you had to compare the two, the win would certainly go to 42nd Street, which one the great musicals of all time. That is certainly not a knock on Dancing Lady. It came certainly hold its head high. The film stars Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone. Joan is a downtown burlesques dancer whose dream is to make the big time on Broadway. Janie “Duchess” Barlow (Crawford) is released on bail, after a raid on the burlesques house where she performs before a mostly male audience. Slumming that evening with his multiple girlfriends is millionaire playboy Tod Newton (Tone) who after the raid all decide to go to court for the entertainment value until Tod suddenly takes an interest in Janie and ends up paying her bail. Smitten by this ambitious woman who wants to be a dancer more than anything else he secretly helps her get an audition in a new Broadway production he is financing and is being directed by Patch Gallagher (Gable). What follows is a love triangle between Crawford, Gable and Tone. Tone love Crawford, who clearly is attracted to Gable who at first hates Crawford then falls in love with her.
The real treat here is that the film gives you the rare chance to see Joan Crawford show off her dancing talent in a sound film and also some skin in a couple of pre-code scenes that take place at the beginning during the raid on the burlesques house. You also get to see Crawford romance two of Hollywood’s best, Gable and Tone. Crawford and Gable always sizzle on the screen. Here she is as beautiful as Gable is macho. A cinematic match made in Hollywood heaven.
The film is also loaded with a lot of future stars in early screen appearances. You get to see Fred Astaire in his film debut dance with Crawford. That in itself makes this film a must see! Nelson Eddy also appears in what was his only second film. The Three Stooges perform some of their classic style slapstick. They were billed as Ted Healy and his Stooges in the opening credits. Healy was a vaudevillian with The Stooges as part of his act. Eventually The Stooges would split from Healy and go off on their own to bigger fame. Also look for Eve Arden in a walk on, Robert Benchley and character actor Sterling Holloway.