Born to DanceHD Closed Captioning
Roy Del Ruth
Open iTunes to preview, buy, and download this movie.
About the Movie
Multiple Oscar and Golden Globe-winner James Stewart ("It's a Wonderful Life") stars in this fun and enjoyable musical about a sailor who helps a young dancer make it to the top on Broadway. Virginia Bruce ("The Great Ziegfeld"), Eleanor Powell ("That's Dancing!"), and Una Merkel ("42nd Street") co-star. Stewart gives an excellent performance and tests his musical abilities when he sings some great songs by Cole Porter.
Perhaps one of the greatest musicals before 1940
This is in the same style as the Broadway Melody themes. What makes this especially interesting is it has elements of The Broadway Melody themes in it. A girl trying to hit it big on broadway, plus elements of a Navy Musical from the 1940s and 50s combined. Each character, is played with a depth and good parallel story, in a sense all the characters are stars in their performance. To me this is perfectly balanced, as far as timing and what is going on even in the numbers, there is no sense of something being not quite right with a time that it takes to execute a scene. Each subplot or minor plot in the movie will play extremely well and is believable.
There is some things at times that seem dated, for instance Elenor Powell seems to be put off and rejected by a desk clerk. And at first I thought this might be a little bit of stiff acting. But then thinking back on those days, that is to say seeing an expression that my departed grandmother said, I realized she was actually playing this scene very naturally as a woman from that time would possibly react, being a lady. Una Merckle probably plays her best part and role in any movie. So natural and wonderful as a supporting actress. Stealing the show at times, and playing a wonderful comedic role. The dance finale is legendary and so well done that it was reused in a lower budget movie later during WWII. Elenor was at the peak of her tap dancing ability in this movie and perhaps only better known in Broadway Melody of 1940 because she was paired with the only dancer who could be in the same league at that time, Fred Astaire.
Jimmy Stewart is wonderful in this movie as well, he plays an excellent natural part in the movie as usual. Stewart is somewhat out of place in the dance numbers of course, because he's well out of his league with Powell. He also sings in this. When you take into account the comedy which is situational and well written as well, combine this with the great dancing and singing, and all the little stories and challenges, this could be the best balanced musical comedy of all time. It's not great because of one actor or actress, like a Kelly musical, but great because of the sum of every part, be it large or small, the captain, Stewarts other navy peers, it all fits together so perfectly. If you understand those times and see how this was played, they have perfect comedy takes on everything for that time. When America was digging out of the depression and there was a sense that we could pull ourselves out by the bootstraps.
It ties so well into the Broadway Melody series of movies, you could call it Broadway Melody of 1936 and 1/2. But of course Powell was in Broadway Melody of 1936 and that name was taken. So Born To Dance has a different title, but it might be the best Broadway Melody and Navy comedy movie ever produced.
What can I say without spoiling the fun, the misunderstandings, the trouble, the crazy captain, the dog and song about the dog, it's just such a funny classically timeless movie that captures the spirit of humans as we have seen them in this country, with unbridled enthusiasm.
Now for the bad part, one song seems a little dated in it's use of a couple of navy guys blowing a little flute like horn during a Powell number, but that can be merely overlooked as something different. Every time I watched it I found something else to love about the film.