Friday, June 12, 2009

"Dance, Girl, Dance": Stuck Inside of Akron ...

This 1940 movie starring Lucille Ball and Maureen O'Hara was not well received by at least one critic when it premiered. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times shrugged it off as "a cliché-ridden, garbled repetition of the story of the aches and pains in a dancer's rise to fame and fortune. It's a long involved tale told by a man who stutters." But it has a much better reputation today. It stands out as one of Ball's better acting performances, as a hard-boiled dancer, and as an example of the work of director Dorothy Arzner. notes: "In the mid-1970s feminist critics argued that while Dance, Girl, Dance may appear to be just one example of the popular musical comedies and women's pictures produced by RKO in the 1930s and 1940s, Arzner's ironic point of view questions the very conventions she uses."

But we're talking about it because the first 14 minutes are set in Akron ..

Before moving the action to New York, the movie opens on a flashing sign saying, "AKRON: HOME OF HARRIS TIRES: The Royalty of the Road." It then pans past a factory to the Palais Royale, a nightclub where a line of dancers performs. The dancers include Bubbles (Lucille Ball) and Judy (Maureen O'Hara). In the crowd is a morose man we will later learn is Jimmy Harris (Louis Hayward), heir to Harris tires.

While the women dance, police enter the club and raid a gambling den in the back room. The dancers have not been paid and need money. Harris takes up a collection from the people remaining, declaiming, "Citizens of Akron, I appeal to your well-known generosity!" Even a cop chips in.

Both Bubbles and Judy are drawn to Jimmy. He at first seems drawn to Judy, but he leaves the club with the more hard-bitten Bubbles, escapist fun being the one thing on his mind. They go to the Ritz Bar, but it turns out to be an early evening, Bubbles later reports, after Jimmy spots a monkey doll, gives it to Bubbles and leaves. The monkey is a memento between Jimmy and his wife, and he realizes she has left it behind while out clubbing; though fond of each other, they are getting a divorce, ending the union of the "Harris tire heir (and a) valve-and-bearing heiress."

(Hat tip to Mark Price)


  1. My friend Paula Schleis told me about your blog. I don't know if you have this one yet, but in the movie "Tommy Boy", with Chris Farley and David Spade, there is a scene in which Tommy's girlfriend is at the airport in Sandusky catching a plane to Cuyahoga Falls. I'll be checking in to see what else you find!

    Mark Eckenrode

  2. You'll be getting a hat tip on that when I post in a bit.