Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)
Maureen's Forever Blowing Bubbles
There are various reasons to watch "Dance, Girl, Dance"; for me it was that it starred Maureen O'Hara, for others it will be that it features Lucille Ball whilst some might watch because they recognize the name Mary Carlisle. Unfortunately whilst there are reasons to watch "Dance, Girl, Dance" it ends up a rather ordinary 1940's musical which betrays what possible depth it may have about the battle between art and commercialism for some entertaining but forgettable musical numbers. In the end it is one's personal like for an actress rather than for what happens which keeps you watching.
After the cops close down the Palais Royale, the dance troop return to Madame Basilova's dance school, well everyone except Bubbles (Lucille Ball - Room Service) who goes looking for excitement and a wealthy man. Without the lively Bubbles no one is interested in the troop and lead dancer Judy O'Brien (Maureen O'Hara - The Hunchback of Notre Dame) finds it tough going as whilst a talented ballet dancer does not have the same pizzazz as Bubbles and to make matters worse when she gets a chance of auditioning for a proper ballet dance troop she bottles it, feeling that she is not good enough. So when Bubbles returns and invites her to become part of the Burlesque show she leads Judy agrees but ends up being humiliated by Bubbles who uses her as a stooge to make her look good.
At its heart "Dance, Girl, Dance" is a story about the battle of being an artiste and selling out to commercialism. As such we have Judy the artiste, the serious and classy ballet dancer who struggles compared to Bubbles who sells out and dances Burlesque for good money and adulation from the men in the audience. Unfortunately the depth of the story is lost in a formula driven production which ignores the depth of the story in favour of some entertaining but forgettable musical numbers and an obligatory but equally forgettable romantic subplot. It just makes "Dance, Girl, Dance" ultimately a forgettable movie which in truth struggles to keep your attention.
But if you come to watch "Dance, Girl, Dance" because of a star then there is a good chance it might just keep your attention. As the classy Judy Maureen O'Hara radiates beauty whilst also doing a solid job of the dance numbers although her character ends up ultimately dull. Then there is Lucille Ball who had by 1940 already spent 17 years trying to make it in the movies with little success but here steals many a scene through her natural comedic capabilities with some amusing dance numbers. As for the romantic interests well both Louis Hayward and Ralph Bellamy are ultimately forgettable and are just cliche characters in ordinary storylines. But special mention goes to Mary Carlisle who as little Sally doesn't have much to do but her fresh face and smile lights up the picture.
What this all boils down to is that "Dance, Girl, Dance" is a rather ordinary, even forgettable musical from 1940. But for fans of Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball it has some appeal.
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