Dance, Girl, Dance

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Dance, Girl, Dance
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dorothy Arzner
James Anderson (assistant)
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Vicki Baum (story)
Frank Davis
Tess Slesinger
Starring Maureen O'Hara
Louis Hayward
Lucille Ball
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Robert Wise
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • August 30, 1940 (1940-08-30)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Dance, Girl, Dance is a film released in 1940 and directed by Dorothy Arzner.[1][2]

In 2007, Dance, Girl, Dance was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", describing it as Arzner's "most intriguing film" and a "meditation on the disparity between art and commerce. The dancers, played by Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball, strive to preserve their own feminist integrity, while fighting for their place in the spotlight and for the love of male lead Louis Hayward."[3]

Dance, Girl, Dance was edited by Robert Wise, whose next film as editor was Citizen Kane and who later won Oscars as director of West Side Story and The Sound of Music.


Good friends Judy and Bubbles are both dancers. Bubbles uses her good looks and being a sex siren to get jobs, and becomes successful in burlesque, while Judy is an elegant ballerina who struggles to make a living as a dancer. A rivalry develops when they both fall in love with a divorced playboy.



In an October 1940 review, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times described the film as "a saga of glamour-struck chorines to end all sagas of said glamour-struck chorines" and a "cliché-ridden, garbled repetition of the story of the aches and pains in a dancer's rise to fame and fortune."[4] The film was a critical and commercial failure, and its theatrical release lost RKO Studios roughly $400,000.[5][6]

Beginning in the 1970s, however, the film enjoyed a popular revival and critical reassessment. Its resurgence has been ascribed to the burgeoning feminist movement which saw the film as a rare example of empowered women. Critical praise for the film has endured – in 2002 Dance, Girl, Dance was listed among the Top 100 "Essential Films" of the National Society of Film Critics.[5]


  1. ^ Variety film review; August 28, 1940, page 16.
  2. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; August 31, 1940, page 139.
  3. ^ Librarian of Congress Announces National Film Registry Selections for 2007, from the Library of Congress website
  4. ^ October 11, 1940 Review from The New York Times
  5. ^ a b Carr, Jay (2002). The A List: The National Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films. Da Capo Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-306-81096-1. Retrieved 13 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p150

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