On Your Toes (1939)

Approved   |    |  Music, Comedy

On Your Toes (1939) Poster

A young hoofer quits vaudeville to become a composer and hooks up with a Russian ballet troupe.



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16 October 1998 | Art-22
| A lyricless revision of the musical concentrates on ballet and comedy.
I was disappointed in not hearing any of the great songs, such as "There's a Small Hotel," sung in this movie, apparently revised to accommodate its star Vera Zorina, who is a ballerina. Despite the onscreen credit for lyrics, the songs of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart are used as background music throughout, while two pieces suitable to ballet were used to display Zorina's ballet skills. The first, "Princess Zenobia" started as a straight ballet, but with Eddie Albert substituting for a missing performer, it turns into a burlesque of ballet, and is a hit. I was uncomfortable with the implication that straight ballet cannot be enjoyed (which is even stated in the script). The second piece, "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," was extremely well done and worth seeing. But here also, the writers injected other material. The impresario, Alan Hale, planned on having Albert killed at the end of the ballet. We know it and Albert learns of it while still on stage and sees the killers too, all of which creates a small amount of suspense. The overall plot is a little dumb, as in most early musicals, but I did enjoy seeing a young, dancing Donald O'Connor (playing Albert as a boy) and some of the gags supplied by Frank McHugh and Leonid Kinskey.

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