Dance, Girl, Dance Reviews
This is great if you either like musicals from the era, are a Maureen O'Hara or Lucille Ball enthusiast (holy, she was unbelievably a knockout in her early filmic days!) or are simply curious about the works of early female and/or lesbian directors. Arzner--at least in the two films I have seen from her thus far--showed she truly deserved to be successful in the industry.
Lucy & Maureen O'Hara became Lifelong Best Friends as a result of this film.They(Lucy & Maureen) were having lunch together when Lucy Met Desi Arnez for the very 1st time.Now that's a Delicious Lunch
Judy's most stunning set piece, a speech near the end berating the men who go to watch strippers on the burlesque stage, could be considered as a barbed attack on the movie audience - after all, part of the Hollywood myth was the objectification of women, and despite Arzner's input, Dance, Girl, Dance is as guilty of this as any other film of the period. The film could be classed as high camp, but it has much more to offer than this implies. Although Arzner's experience with musicals was limited, she ensured the film was tightly directed and gave the finished product considerable power. However, this art vs. commerce mediation was her penultimate film. It succeeds because of its sheer charm and attention to detail; we can understand perfectly how it feels to sleep in a room of the type rented to chorus girls, how seeing a ballet performance can fuel the ambitions of one of their number. It is also a kind of fairytale where Judy is the good princess and Bubbles the wicked witch, although the ending isn't brought about by masculine intervention, but by sheer determination and self-faith.
Although Maureen O'Hara is the leading role as the long-suffering (and in my opinion annoyingly simpering) ballerina, it is Lucille Ball who pretty much walks away with the film. Ball at this point was still trying to escape the B-pictures mold Hollywood had forced her in, but every so often she did get a good one, be it often as a secondary character, and this is definitely one of them. Ball would, of course, give up on Hollywood eventually and go see what television was all about, with a career as the Queen of Television spanning several decades as the result. A further result was also that she eventually became the owner of RKO, the studio that made this film. Good on her.
One of Old Hollywood's few high-profile female directors, Dorothy Azner does attempt to deliver a message that was rather novel in its day, by having her ballerina shame the crowd at the burlesque house, and making a statement about female empowerment. Perhaps therefore it's ironic that Lucille Ball's anti-thesis to this message is actually the most memorable character.