Lady Be Good (1941 film)

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Lady Be Good
Poster - Lady Be Good (1941) 03.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Norman Z. McLeod
Produced by Arthur Freed
Written by Jack McGowan
Kay Van Riper
John McClain
Starring Eleanor Powell
Robert Young
Ann Sothern
John Carroll
Berry Brothers
Virginia O'Brien
Music by Roger Edens
Jerome Kern
Oscar Hammerstein II
George and Ira Gershwin
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Oliver T. Marsh
Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
September 1, 1941 (USA)
Running time
112 min
Language English

Lady Be Good is the title of an MGM musical film which was released in 1941. The film starred dancer Eleanor Powell, along with Ann Sothern, Robert Young, Lionel Barrymore, and Red Skelton. It was directed by Norman Z. McLeod and produced by Arthur Freed. This was the first of several films Powell made with Skelton. Although Powell received top billing, the main stars of the film are Sothern and Young. They play respectively Dixie Donegan, a would-be lyric writer and Eddie Crane, a struggling composer.

The film takes its title and theme song ("Oh, Lady be Good!") from the 1924 George and Ira Gershwin Broadway musical, Lady Be Good, but otherwise has no connection to the play. According to film historian Robert Osborne in his introduction to a broadcast of the film on Turner Classic Movies in August 2006, the film was devised as a vehicle to launch Sothern as a musical star at MGM. However, since she and Young were known primarily as light comic stars, Powell was brought in for a supporting role but given the top billing in order to attract audiences.

This film's most notable sequence involves an epic tap dance routine by Powell to the melody of Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm" (another song taken from the play). This musical number was later featured in two films in the That's Entertainment! documentary series—in one of the films (That's Entertainment! III), behind-the-scenes footage was shown, revealing how this scene was accomplished. In order to allow Powell to dance between a series of pianos without interruption, pieces of the set had to be quietly removed off-camera as she worked her way across the stage. This musical sequence was directed by Busby Berkeley. Another sequence features Powell doing a dance routine with a dog that she herself trained for the number. There are also phenomenal dance routines by the Berry Brothers. The film won an Academy Award for Best Song for "The Last Time I Saw Paris" which was composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II.[citation needed]


Eddie Crane, a young composer, is struggling with a tune he has just written. When his girlfriend, Dixie Donegan, provides words almost by accident, the song is published and is a great success.

A few years later, now married and successful songwriters with a hit Broadway show behind them, Dixie realises that Eddie is spending more time in rich New York society than composing. They divorce, but quickly realise they are still in love and cannot do without each other. They remarry and write more successful songs, but then Eddie goes off to South America, ostensibly to get inspiration to write a symphony. Dixie again seeks a divorce, but the astute judge denies it. Eddie returns and they realise that despite all, they are still in love.



The title was used on an American B-24D Liberator bomber which flew for the United States Army Air Forces during World War II out of north Africa, disappeared on an April 4, 1943, raid on Naples, Italy and was found virtually intact in the Libyan desert in 1958.

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