2 May 2006 | blanche-2
MGM jumps on that 42nd Street bandwagon
Like the other studios, MGM wasted no time cashing in on the success of 42nd Street with its own backstage musical, complete with ersatz Busby Berkeley choreography. This one is "Dancing Lady," and she's young Joan Crawford costarring with Franchot Tone and Clark Gable. A dancer named Fred Astaire makes his official film debut, and Nelson Eddy pops in for a song.
Crawford is an ambitious dancer being pursued by a rich boyfriend (Tone), but she's blinded by the footlights of Broadway. He helps her out by getting her into a show directed by tough guy Gable, and when he sees her talent and perseverance, he gives her the "top spot" in the show. Of course, he's attracted to her, too, and she to him.
It's easy for all of them to be attracted to one another because they're all gorgeous. 30 years after this film, Franchot Tone would play a dying President in "Advise and Consent"...and look it. Here he's a smooth dazzler in his top hat, tails, brilliant smile and dimples. Gable is muscular, sexy, and rough around the edges. Crawford sparkles with her athletic figure, beautiful legs, and surely a pair of the most spellbinding eyes ever in film. She is perfection in her Adrian outfits. Though she does well in her big number with Astaire, Crawford really was from the Ruby Keeler School of Hoofing - lots of arms, big steps, and a ton of noise. The musical itself - uh, "Dancing Lady" - is tuneful and pleasant, and its spectacular finale gives one the impression that Louis B screamed for the kitchen sink - Berkeley-type choreography, a Nelson Eddy solo, and Astaire.
It's wonderful to see these stars so young and energetic, and they are all great to watch. Look for an uncredited appearance by a blond Eve Arden and Lynn Bari somewhere in the chorus. Lots of fun from MGM.