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Friday, June 20, 2014

Fridays with Fred-Fred's First Film 1933's Dancing Lady

 Fred Astaire made over forty films during his lifetime, but he actually came to movies relatively late in life, at the age of 34, after an extremely successful Vaudeville and Broadway career.  In fact film executives were so convinced that movie audiences wouldn't accept Fred as anything other then a Broadway star, that in his first film, 1933's Dancing Lady, they had Fred played himself.

Dancing Lady stars Joan Crawford as Janie Barlow, a dancer desperate for success, who due to the tough times of the early 1930s is reduced to performing in a Burlesque show.

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In the opening scenes of the film Janie, along with the other dancers, is arrested for participating in an indecent performance.  While Janie is arguing with the judge a millionaire admirer, named Todd Newton, convenient comes along to  bail her out.  

Newton takes Jeanie out for dinner over which she confesses her burning desire to dance. 

A smitten Newton decides to pull some strings and gets her an addition for a Broadway show.

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Janie tries out for tough egg director Patch Gallagher, played by Clark Gable, (and yes that is one of the three stooges on the piano), who despite his initial misgivings is impressed.  Janie gets the job and pretty soon she is spending days rehearsing with Gallagher and evenings being romanced by Newton.  Despite the fact that Newton is a millionaire with a fabulous deco pool:

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Janie has no interest in settling down as a society wife and her attraction to the equally stage obsessed Patch Gallagher is growing:

Somewhere amidst all this  Fred Astaire finally makes his first film appearance, introduced by Clark Gable with the line "Freddie show Miss. Barlow that opening number":

As Janie becomes more committed to the show, and to Patch Gallagher, Newton becomes jealous and secretly pulls his funding leading to the show being shut down.  With nothing to do Janie agrees to go on vacation with Gallagher, but she is miserable, spending the entire time pining for the stage and for Patch. 

A dejected Patch decides to fund the show himself.  Eventually he discovers that Newton pulled the funding for the show and he confronts Janie with the truth, Newton confesses, and Janie returns to  her star part in the show.  Then somehow, despite lack of rehearsals and limited funds, Janie and Fred are able to dance through the air in a technical marvel of a Broadway show, and of course pull they pull of an enormous success.

The film ends with Janie and Gallagher declaring their commitment to the stage and each other:

In all Dancing Lady is a somewhat forgettable film, but it does have some fabulous 1930s fashions.  I particularly love the tartan trims on some of Joan's dresses:

and some amazing stars.  It is definitely worth a viewing for any fan of classic films, particularly fans of Fred Astaire, Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. 


  1. I'd never heard of that one.

  2. We just watched a few classics. Those were some cool times
    Lily & Edward

  3. That sounds nice film! I like the happy ending :-)

  4. Seems funny to see Fred's name so far down the credit list!

    XXXOOO Bella Roxy & Dui

  5. That a real oldie but goodie- isn't it?

  6. I want Joan's plaid ensemble in this film soooo much! If I had it, it would be what I'd sport to our town's annual Scottish festival next month. I'm not Scottish, but I enjoyed attending as a youngster, haven't been in probably 15 years or more, and am hoping to make it down there again for a day of caber tossing and Highland dancing - and hopefully some cute Scottie dog sightings! :)

    Have a wonderful weekend,
    ♥ Jessica

  7. We'd forgotten that Fred had a whole different career on stage before he started in movies. Not sure if we have seen this one. Have a super Saturday.
    Best wishes Molly


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