User Reviews (17)

  • calvinnme12 March 2011
    6/10
    a dime is a bargain for a dance with Babs but ...
    ... I wouldn't give you a plugged nickel for that heel husband of hers.

    When we first meet Barbara O'Neill (Barbara Stanwyck) she's hustling dances at a dime a piece in a cheap Depression era dance hall. She seems to have a good enough head on her shoulders, one good enough to prevent her from descending down into prostitution or believing the lies of the customers that might want things to go further. This is not the tough hardened Stanwyck of Baby Face. However she genuinely likes Bradley Carlton (Ricardo Cortez), a wealthy businessman who just enjoys talking to her. She asks him for one favor, and that not for herself - to hire an out of work and soon to be homeless young guy who lives at the same boarding house she does, Eddie Miller (Monroe Owsley). She gets her favor.

    For some reason the common sense Barbara has with men in the dance hall seems to elude her when it comes to Eddie. Beggars can't be choosers, but unfortunately so many are and Eddie is no exception. When he learns Barbara is working in a dance hall, not a dance school as she told him, he busts in and insists she quits and manages to fit a proposal somewhere in there too. The two hastily marry, and Eddie, once so grateful for a forty dollar a week job that would keep him fed and a roof over his head soon wants more than he has - more of a job, a higher class lifestyle, maybe even a higher class woman. I'll let you watch and see where all of this goes.

    It was fun to see Ricardo Cortez playing a good guy for a change - not a doormat - just a good guy. I also really liked the playing of the title song in its entirety after the movie ends - it was a nice Depression era touch.
  • Sten10 July 2003
    7/10
    Good Naughty Fun
    This relic from before the days of the Production Code and the Hays Office is good fun, not great but entertaining.

    Based on a song by Rogers & Hart that was an enormous hit at the time, the story revolves around dance hall girl Barbara Stanwyck who is romanced by wealthy businessman Ricardo Cortez (who was indecently handsome), but whose heart belongs to her bookish neighbor Monroe Owsley. She and Owsley marry, but keep it a secret, while she dismisses Cortez, who still holds out hope. She helps hubby get a job in Cortez's company, but married bliss quickly turns sour as Owsley develops a taste for the high life and steps out with a college sweetheart and gambles in high-stakes bridge (Yup! I know, it's pretty funny....). Finally he embezzles $5,000 from Cortez, and is about to go on the lam, when his devoted wife goes to Cortez....and I won't reveal anything else, although the ending was certainly a surprise.

    Stanwyck is the best thing about this movie; in one of her earliest roles she's quite accomplished. Owsley is the weak point; he's unattractive and sniveling, while Cortez is amazingly suave and sexy, while his performance is earnest but unremarkable.

    While ostensibly a drama, it's filled with laughs, many inadvertant as some elements of this movie have aged very poorly. But there are a lot of good witty lines; at one point Stanwyck says to Cortez, "My brains are in my feet, while yours are in...." That's pretty darn suggestive for 1931! There's a lot of bawdy and suggestive stuff in this flick, in the last days before the Code clamped down and whitewashed everything. An amusing antique, a good reminder of how far we haven't come in 70 years....this story could very easily be changed to fit 2003 but could keep the basic plot, with the original ending, in place.
  • Michael_Elliott22 March 2011
    Underrated Gem That Needs to Be Rediscovered
    Ten Cents a Dance (1931)

    *** (out of 4)

    Criminally underrated drama about a woman (Barbara Stanwyck) working at a dance hall who agrees to marry a poor man (Monroe Owsley) even though she could have had a rich man (Ricardo Cortez) who was in love with her. Soon after the marriage the woman learns that her husband is a womanizer and a thief but she's forced to ask the rich man for money when her husband falls into some major trouble. I had read so many negative reviews about this thing (including one in Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide) that it really took me by surprised and I'd probably go as far as to call it one of the most underrated and un-appreciated films from this era. I'm not going to say this is a lost masterpiece or some important piece of film history but it's certainly a highly entertaining gem that deserves to be re-discovered. What really caught me off guard was the performance of Stanwyck who is quite remarkable. She made a career out of playing tough women who wouldn't take any crap from anyone but here she's the complete opposite as her character is so weak and fragile that it really shocked me at how terrific the actress played it. Just take a look at the first ten minutes when she's forced to be tough inside the dance hall but then the next scene she's falling for the sad story being told to her by Owsley. The compassion Stanwyck expresses in this scene is something I've never seen from her and the eventual weakness of her character is something else I've never seen her do. She handles all of this extremely well and it really made me wish we had gotten to see more roles like this. Sure, she's a legend playing the tough girl but she really was remarkable here and sold every inch of her character. Owsley is also terrific as he too has different sides of his character and he does both of them with ease. I thought he was terrific as the sweet, friendly guy that Stanwyck marries and that sleazy side comes across without any issues. Cortez is another major plus getting to play a soft-hearted guy. Barrymore's direction is pretty straight-forward as he doesn't go for much style but instead lets the performance lead the film. I thought he did a very good job at keeping the drama going and it's a shame this turned out to be his last directorial job. The film is based on a popular song of the day and when I saw this on the credits I thought we were going to be in for a long and boring film but it was the complete opposite. This Columbia film has pretty much been forgotten, which is a real shame but hopefully more people will give it a shot. Film buffs will also notice a line that would become legendary in CASABLANCA but here it is over a decade earlier.
  • kidboots23 September 2010
    8/10
    Barbara Stanwyck, yet again, Lifts Up an Obvious Pot Boiler!!!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Lionel Barrymore had been dabbling in directing since film's earliest days. He was in demand as an director in the early days of the talkies, scoring a success with "Madame X", but also responsible for "His Glorious Night" - a film John Gilbert probably wished he (J.G.) had never made. He was an uninspired director, who even in the early thirties was in the early stages of arthritis and "Ten Cents a Dance" was his last director credit. "Inspired by the Popular Song" - the song was a huge hit for Ruth Etting. She sang it and "Love Me or Leave Me" in the Ziegfeld show "Simple Simon" (1930) and both songs became forever associated with her. But she almost didn't get to sing it - Lee Morse, a beautiful singer with a unique vocal style was the initial lead but after being found drunk the day before the Broadway opening was sacked and Ruth was asked to go on in her place.

    Barbara (Barbara Stanwyck) is pretty fed up with her job as a dance hostess at the Palais De Dance - her boss Mrs. Blanchard (Blanche Frederici) is concerned with her slipping standards. "I'm here because my brains are in my feet - you're here because your brains are in your.....!!" Babs has an ardent admirer in decent businessman Bradley Carlton (Ricardo Cortez)who pays her $100 just to sit and talk with him. Her heart, unfortunately, is with another. Weakling Eddie Miller (Monroe Owsley - in the early 1930s he surely deserved an award for the number of times he played pretty despicable people) and she has already found him a job with Carlton. She has also never told Eddie where she works - she says she is a dancing instructress!!! He finally tracks her down and is pretty disgusted with her job - he proposes marriage and she eagerly accepts. Carlton also has strong feelings for her and proposes she travel with him on a world cruise but of course she refuses.

    Marriage shows Eddie's true colours - he is still passing himself off as a bachelor and getting heavily into debt by playing bridge and dabbling in the market. Meanwhile, Babs is finding it difficult to make ends meet and secretly goes back to the dance hall to help pay the bills but Eddie has been doing a little overtime on his own - embezzling $5,000 from the company and now the auditors are in. When Barbara comes up with the money (she has been to see Carlton who not only gives her the money but confesses envy of Eddie) he believes she has earned the money in the "usual way" (for girls in pre-coders anyway) and rushes to Carlton to shake him down.

    "You're not a man - you're not even a good sample" - it's speeches like that or "showdowns" that show Barbara Stanwyck's ability to lift up the script of an obvious pot boiler and make you forget that you are watching a movie unworthy of her talents. Ricard Cortez is also an extremely versatile actor - he could play gentleman or psychotic gangster and make you believe in them. Sweet Sally Blane (Loretta Young's sister) played Molly, the new kid at the dance hall who becomes Barbara's friend. Abe Lyman's Orchestra gives the Palais De Dance much needed pep and class.

    Highly Recommended.
  • Derutterj-15 November 2007
    5/10
    Stanwyck tries to lift dispiriting potboiler
    Soon after this effort, Lionel Barrymore went back to acting full-time. I wouldn't blame him. Although Stanwyck is excellent as usual, this is a slight tale, typical of the time, that she alone makes worth watching—one time only. There's something frustrating, moreover, about how her character remains faithfully committed to the lout played by Monroe Owsley for so long. I suppose we have to accept that behavior which in our day would seem masochistic was the cultural norm in 1931 for most women. On the Pre-Code front, there's a gum-chewing scene stealer, foxy Sally Blane as Molly, a newbie who can't wait to dive into the sleazy dance hall world, although Stanwyck tries to advise her (and immediately says she knows that Molly is underage).

    What brings everything down is the low budget. Columbia could mount a good-looking feature from time to time, but in 1931, I suppose they weren't doing it very much. The art director does suggest the opulence of Ricardo Cortez's apartment effectively without showing its interior; we get the idea from the lobby, hallway leading up to his door and vestibule, with its snazzy Spanish California motif. But the rest of the picture is pretty threadbare, and Barrymore's direction seems perfunctory and hurried, as if pressured by budget and schedule constraints (I hasten to add that budget is not necessarily everything; take a look at the excellent, absorbing Five Star Final, which basically takes place in two newspaper offices and an apartment living room, to see how resourcefully such conditions can be handled).

    As for the story itself, it looks like it was dreamed up by somebody and sketched out on the back of an envelope all in the space of one afternoon. If Barrymore felt dispirited, he sure showed 'em, going into "A Free Soul" this very year, where his performance blew everybody's minds and won him a lifetime MGM contract. The song of the title is pretty good; we hear but do not see it performed by a torchy vocalist.
  • MartinHafer4 September 2008
    7/10
    An example of the "Pre-Code" mentality--and a pretty good one at that
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of Barbara Stanwyck's earlier films and it sure does have an unconventional theme. She's making money by dancing with men at a dance hall. She really doesn't like the work, but it's a living. Her boyfriend seems like a pretty nice guy, but she's also pursued by rich guy Ricardo Cortez. Well, after marrying, it turns out her "nice guy" is a thieving, womanizing weasel and rich Cortez turns out to be a heck of a guy. By the end of the film, Barbara simply has had enough, as any SANE woman would walk from this horrid marriage.

    In the 1920s and early 30s, Hollywood did pretty much anything it wanted and some of their films had themes or scenes that would surprise many today--such as nudity, adultery and bad language. While TEN CENTS A DANCE isn't a blatant example of this morality, it does have a theme that never would have been allowed after the toughened Production Code was created and enforced starting in 1934. In some ways the Code was great--after all, parents didn't need to worry about what their kids saw in films (such as nudity in BEN HUR, 1925). However, it also tended to sanitize some of the movies far too much--and there is no way this particular film could have been made and approved because it tends to glorify divorce--a serious no-no 1934 and thereafter. This is really a shame, as I don't think TEN CENTS A DANCE was bad at all to discuss this--especially since the star (Barbara Stanwyck) was married to a philandering thief. Even so, allowing the film to end with her divorcing him and marrying a man who himself was twice divorced just couldn't have been.

    Overall, the film is interesting and thought-provoking. Plus, it was well-paced and suited its relatively short run time. Give this one a look.

    FYI--Sadly, Ricardo Cortez was actually NOT Hispanic but changed his name because of possible prejudice because he was Jewish. He was an excellent leading man of his time, but today is all but forgotten.
  • marcslope23 July 2012
    7/10
    Babs in trouble, a good place for her to be
    Columbia programmer "inspired by the song by Rodgers and Hart," and in fact it's sung over the credits, including the "pansy" line, which got censored in future film renditions. But all it really inspires is the setting, a dime-a-dance hall, where Stanwyck, in an early, prototypical role, is pursued by a rich (Cortez) and poor (Owsley) guy, and in a clever reversal, the nice-seeming poor guy turns out to be a cad and the rich guy is genuine and caring. Stanwyck's facial expressions alone are touching and assured, and she even cries convincingly, unlike many more actressy actresses of the period. Owsley is callow and unlikable, but then that's what he's playing, and Cortez underplays well, with liquid eyes that are indeed the mirrors to this character's soul. It's indifferently directed by Lionel Barrymore and has little in production value, but Jo Swerling's screenplay isn't bad, and the pre-Code candor is a treat.
  • bkoganbing11 March 2011
    7/10
    A Bad Judge Of Character
    Back in the day when couples actually held each other while dancing the kind of place Barbara Stanwyck works in Ten Cents A Dance was fairly popular. Ten cents went a lot farther in those days. Today even given inflation you would pay a whole lot more and the dance would be on your lap.

    One of Barbara's special customers is Ricardo Cortez, a man who's kept his business during the Depression and successfully, no easy task. She asks him to give one of her fellow boarders at her rooming house, Monroe Owsley a job in the firm. It seems to work out all around and she and Owsley get married.

    But Owsley is a weak character and a poor gambler, losing money in penny ante card games and of all things playing the market in 1931, not a very sound idea. He embezzles $5000.00 from Cortez's firm. This is where Barbara has to make some critical choices, separate the men from the boys so to speak.

    Lionel Barrymore who did some directing before the Oscar he won for A Free Soul brought him a contract with MGM to exclusively act directed this pre-Code potboiler. He does get good performances out of the three principal players. Another you won't forget is Sally Blane as the underage dime a dance girl and Blanche Frederici as the morals custodian of the dime a dance girls in her establishment.

    Owsley who made a specialty of playing bad or weak characters died much too young. As for Barbara the role was definitely a boost for her young career at the time.
  • sdave759616 March 2011
    6/10
    Stanwyck shines despite the low-budget
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Ten Cents a Dance" released in 1931, is based on the popular Rogers and Hart song. The film stars Barbara Stanwyck as a dance-hall girl, who dances with men who can pay a dime. These were apparently popular in the early years of the Great Depression, with young ladies just trying to earn any kind of a living. Stanwyck's character is on the tough side, but she falls hard for a man who lives in her apartment building (Monroe Owsley). Brought into the mix of this is a handsome and charming wealthy man (Ricardo Cortez) who is smitten with Stanwyck, but she only has eyes for the poor man Owsley. The two marry, but it soon becomes apparent her new husband is not satisfied with the average life of working in an office and the frugal life they live. He wants to live the good life, but he just doesn't want to work for it. Stanwyck tries to keep the marriage and their home going, but her husband only distances himself more from her, and ends up stealing money from the company that the rich man owns! A bit implausible, but hey....what hurts the film is the meager budget the film obviously had. Columbia Pictures rarely made big-budget films in the early 1930's, and was considered the poverty row studio by the Hollywood elite. The performances are good, especially Stanwyck, who was clearly a star on the rise. It was great to see Ricard Cortez playing a nice guy for a change instead of the bad guy he was so famous for. Owsley (whom I was not familiar with) is also effective as the restless and dissatisfied husband. A nice little movie, nothing special, but better days -- and films -- certainly were ahead for Barbara Stanwyck. The film was produced by Lionel Barrymore, oddly enough.
  • dougdoepke24 July 2012
    Ten Minutes of Cheap Thrills
    Between the tacky title and the pre-Code year (1931), I was expecting a carload of cheap thrills. Happily, the first ten minutes does deliver. There's the tawdry lineup of taxi dancers waiting to get mauled; the over-loud bouncy band; and the tacky guys eager for ten cents of hard-boiled maybe's. Then there's the dressing room where the girls get to trade war stories and smooth out their nylons. No, it's not exactly the uptown social register, but it is colorful as heck. Plus, the slinky, gum-popping Stanwyck couldn't be more at home.

    But then the story goes all soap-opera, as Barbara (Stanwyck) tries to hang onto her philandering husband, a very un-charismatic Eddie (Owsley), who also happens to steal from his employer (Cortez) who also happens to be an uptown socialite who also happens to have a yen for Barbara, of all people. Yes, it does get a little confusing. But hang on anyway, since our suddenly very faithful ex-taxi dancer has to suffer big time in order to deserve her eventual reward. I expect there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

    No, I didn't get the cheap thrill carload I was hoping for. But Stanwyck does compensate for a lot. Plus I really liked the camaraderie amongst the girls, sort of like what you find among men in combat. But then I guess that fits. Anyhow, if you have a preference for weepies and gum-popping dames, this stone age talky fills the bill.
  • ksf-227 August 2008
    7/10
    what's a wife to do? early Stanwyck role
    One of the last films DIRECTED by Lionel Barrymore, "Ten Cents a Dance" stars Barbara Stanwyck as the dance-hall girl "Barbara" in her sixth role. Stanwyck looks quite "plain-jane" in this one, and opens with her getting chewed out by the dance hall manager. Then along comes rich guy Bradley Carlton (Ricardo Cortez) who wants to sweep her off her feet. (Cortez and Stanwyck had made three films together in the 1930s.) Then she meets Eddie, who's very different from the dashing Carlton. The writer, Jo Swerling, had worked on some biggies (Its a Wonderful Life, Guys and Dolls, and Gone with the Wind) so I was surprised that the characters and script in this were so ordinary. The story starts getting more interesting about halfway thru, and is VERY similar to "The Bride Walks Out" from 1936, ALSO starring Stanwyck.... T.B.W.O. is much more clever, but also more tame, due to on-slaught of the Hays code...
  • mark.waltz12 March 2011
    4/10
    The great Barbara Stanwyck in a pre-code drama with no bite.
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one of the few Barbara Stanwyck films I have been trying to hunt down for many years. I have seen all but a few, and this was the one I desired most to see. While I cannot be disappointed over it not being all that great, no film with Miss Stanwyck in my opinion is worth missing for old movie fans. Add on the fact that its set in New York in the depression prior to the creation of the movie code, and there is a lot of hope it will be at least fun to watch, if no masterpiece. There lies my disappointment. There is hardly any grit to the script, and that's where it looses its importance in the Stanwyck cannon of classics.

    Stanwyck is a Broadway taxi dancer (dime a dance girl) who marries office clerk Monroe Owsley even though his wealthy boss (Ricardo Cortez) obviously loves her. Owsley is critical of her past, and uses it against her after she saves his hide from embezzling from his work. Sounds promising, I know, but there is hardly any great dialogue for Stanwyck to claw her way through. However, she is magnificent, whether dealing with a clumsy sailor in the dance joint she works at or her complaining boss. The scene where she finally has enough with her no-good hubby finally gives her something juicy to do.

    It's apparent that the lessons she learned from Frank Capra on "Ladies of Leisure" (her first good film) have taken over in her acting, because she has greatly improved since the two previous less than decent films she made prior. (Those being "The Locked Door" and what I consider her worst film, "Mexicali Rose"). It's surprising that Ricardo Cortez isn't the villain here, actually a decent man who nobly helps Stanwyck in her time of crisis. Not a great actor, he is at least watchable. As for Owsley, I was quite disappointed with his performance. Even in the fight scene at the dance joint, he came off as extremely awkward, and in emotional scenes with Stanwyck was quite stiff. As for Lionel Barrymore's direction, I was searching for something out of the ordinary, and could not find it. It would only be with Capra and those with whom she worked at Warner Brothers would Stanwyck find the guidance to become the legend she is today. I just expected more from a film of this era. With its setting and story, there should have been much more fire.
  • JohnHowardReid2 January 2018
    8/10
    Who is stealing from who?
    Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 9 February 1931 by Columbia Pictures Corp. New York opening at the Strand: 6 March 1931. 75 minutes. (Columbia also made an 88-minute Spanish version starring Lupita Tovar).

    NOTES: The storyline of this movie is virtually identical to Honor Among Lovers which hit New York on 27 February 1931. Monroe Owsley had the same role, while Claudette Colbert played the girl and Fredric March was the persistent admirer she didn't marry.

    Both the plot and the principal characters are so similar, it's obvious that someone stole from someone else. For the record, the writers of the more expensive Paramount picture were Austin Parker (original story and screenplay) and Gertrude Purcell (screenplay).

    COMMENT: Lionel Barrymore's last credited film as a director ("A pretty good picture too!" he commented in 1950), is somewhat static but enlivened by the dance hall scenes with Abe Lyman's Orchestra and the presence of Sally Blane in the support cast. Stanwyck is effective as usual (some witty dialogue helps), but Cortez just walks through his role, and Owsley was better in Honor Among Lovers.
  • Richard Chatten30 July 2017
    6/10
    Going for a Song
    There haven't been many films inspired by a popular song (but there have been others; Bobbie Gentry's 'Ode to Billy Joe' became a film in 1976), and the title of Lionel Barrymore's last film as director had led me to expect another musical; it then starts out seeming to promise a hard-boiled drama set amid the speakeasies. But after the obligatory opening sequence with the camera swooping around the dance hall where Barbara Stanwyck works, Barrymore settles down to instead deliver a weepie in which Alpha Plus female Barbara Stanwyck becomes inexplicably enamoured of Gamma Minus male Monroe Owsley to the extent of marrying him.

    Scriptwriter Jo Swerling doesn't give Owsley a single redeeming feature, leaving you torn between wanting to give him a smack for being such an unappreciative pig and her for not giving him that smack herself. Alpha male fairy godfather Ricardo Cortez is frankly far too good be true, his actions implausibly honourable at all times; and Stanwyck is such a doormat I'm sure he was capable of better (ironically she was at the time herself married to one of the most detested men in show business, Frank Fay). But I guess by the end she'd earned a break.
  • Uriah4328 July 2017
    7/10
    Still Retains its Charm After More than 85 Years
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movie begins in a night club called the "Palais de Dance" with a woman named "Barbara O'Neill" (Barbara Stanwyck) getting paid to dance with customers. As it turns out, her mind isn't in her work lately because she has just developed a crush on a man named "Eddie Miller" (Monroe Owsley) who resides in the same apartment complex as her. Unfortunately, Eddie is rather down on his luck and without steady employment plans to skip town soon. As luck would have it, however, a rich young man named "Bradley Carlton" (Ricardo Cortez) becomes quite inebriated and proceeds to give Barbara a large tip of $100--which she then passes along to Eddie to pay his bills. Not only that, but a day or two later she also convinces Bradley to hire Eddie at his firm as an accountant. In any case, one thing leads to another and eventually Eddie and Barbara get married which prompts Barbara to quit her job. Unfortunately, although they love each other Eddie gets discouraged about his work and tends to squander money in the stock market and cards. Unable to pay the bills, Barbara returns to the night club in secret to make a few bucks to make ends meet but it isn't nearly enough to pay off the substantial debts Eddie owes. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was a surprisingly pleasant film which still retains its charm after more than 85 years. I especially liked the acting of Barbara Stanwyck who really seemed well suited for this particular role. Admittedly, being an older film this picture might not appeal to all viewers but regardless of that fact I enjoyed it and have rated it accordingly. Above average.
  • LeonLouisRicci3 November 2014
    7/10
    Pre-Code Trifle Not Without Some Interest
    Lackluster Directing by Lionel Barrymore and the Slightest of Production Values Hampers this Little Pre-Coder. It Fails to be Much of a Movie but does have Some Interesting Artifacts of the Time.

    The Razor Thin Difference Between Dancing for a Dime and Taking Money for Sex (Prostitution) is On Display Here with Some Double-Speak Dialog. There are a Few Intriguing Peaks at Behind the Scenes at the Dance Hall.

    Barbara Stanwyck is Fine and Her Acting Talent is On Display in Many a Scenes as She Carries the Film Vacillating Between "Dancing" for a Living and Fulfilling Her Wifely Duties in the Home. Ricardo Cortez is Good as a "Decent" Rich Guy (for a change in the 1930's) and is Warm and Approachable.

    The Film is No Great Shakes but is Worth a Watch for the World of Depression Era Girls at Work and Play, and a Good Soap Opera Plot. After the Code, the Divorce Angle, So Integral to the Story would have made This One a No-No.
  • crimmins32519 August 2008
    9/10
    classic dilemma
    1931 also presented "an American tragedy", the original tale of "who will he take up with, poor girl or rich girl". this was a truly entertaining film. Babs stanwyck was a pretty as she could be, ditto sally blane. Monroe owsley, unmemorably played Babs's husband. i had never heard of him, but i thought he bore a good physical resemblance to bing Crosby of "the big broadcast" ('32), even a receding hairline and wingy ears. Ricardo cortez, the rich playboy with a heart of gold. a true movie pioneer going wayyy back. the dilemma is resolved at the end, to the strains of the title and i believe Annette hanshaw had the hit recording, although the off-screen voice did very well. i also enjoyed the dance hall scenes. i'm sure they were authentic; the band, a leading one of the time was superb. good job, Lionel Barrymore!!!!