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The Dance of Life (1929)

A vaudeville comic and a pretty young dancer aren't having much luck in their separate careers, so they decide to combine their acts. In order to save money on the road, they get married. ... See full summary »

Writers:

Benjamin Glazer (screenplay), Arthur Hopkins (play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hal Skelly ... Ralph 'Skid' Johnson
Nancy Carroll ... Bonny Lee King
Dorothy Revier ... Sylvia Marco
Ralph Theodore Ralph Theodore ... Harvey Howell (as Ralph Theadore)
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Lefty Miller
Al St. John ... Bozo
May Boley May Boley ... Gussie
Oscar Levant ... Jerry Evans
Gladys DuBois Gladys DuBois ... Miss Sherman
James Quinn James Quinn ... Jimmy
Jim Farley ... Champ Melvin
George Irving ... Minister
Gordona Bennet Gordona Bennet ... Amazon Chorus Girl
Miss La Reno Miss La Reno ... Amazon Chorus Girl
Cora Beach Shumway Cora Beach Shumway ... Amazon Chorus Girl
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Storyline

A vaudeville comic and a pretty young dancer aren't having much luck in their separate careers, so they decide to combine their acts. In order to save money on the road, they get married. Soon their act begins to catch on, and they find themselves booked onto Broadway. They also realize that they actually are in love with each other, but just when things are starting to look up, the comic starts to let success go to his head. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

theater | based on play | See All (2) »

Taglines:

"THE PICTURE THAT HAS EVERYTHING" (Print ad- Buffalo Courier-Express, ((Buffalo NY)) 28 August 1929) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Musical | Romance

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Burlesque See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone)

Color:

Color (2-strip Technicolor) (one sequence)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Future director Edward Dmytryk was given his first assistant editing assignment (uncredited) on this film. See more »

Connections

Version of Broadway Television Theatre: Burlesque (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

True Blue Lou
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Sam Coslow and Leo Robin
Sung by Hal Skelly
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent vaudeville drama

'The Dance of Life' (1929) is the film version of a hit Broadway play called 'Burlesque', which starred Barbara Stanwyck. The original title was considered too racy for movie audiences, so the film producers bought the rights to a best-selling NON-fiction book about sex, 'The Dance of Life', just so they could use the book's title for this movie based on 'Burlesque'.

Skid Johnson is a baggy-pants comedian who can't make it on the vaudeville circuit. He meets Bonny Lee, a bright young dancer who is pretty and talented but who just can't catch a break. Stranded in a train station between vaudeville bookings, the two decide to team up and try a new act together. To save money, they get married: if they travel the vaudeville circuit with a marriage license to prove they're husband and wife, they can share a single hotel room. As their act gets better, Skid and Bonny get bookings which bring them closer to Broadway, and soon they are genuinely in love with each other. But, just when stardom is within their grasp, Skid gets a big head. And then the trouble starts...

'The Dance of Life' is a fascinating early talkie. Nancy Carroll (in the Stanwyck role) is an excellent actress and a fine dancer. Dramatic actor Hal Skelly had difficulty getting roles because of his clownish face; in this film, he puts his unusual appearance to good tragicomic advantage as a comedian who encounters problems in his offstage life. Skelly does a funny skidding dance which probably explains his character's nickname.

Oscar Levant had a small role in the Broadway cast of 'Burlesque', in a party scene which gave him a chance to play the piano and make a few wisecracks. He makes his film debut in 'The Dance of Life', repeating his Broadway role ... but the screenplay cuts Levant's role to a mere walk-on, giving him no opportunities to play the piano or crack any jokes. Don't expect any of those great Levant witticisms.

I was excited to see Al Saint John's name in this film's cast list, in the role of Skid Johnson's slapstick comedy sidekick Bozo. Al Saint John was one of the great acrobatic comedians of the silent screen, working prominently with his uncle Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle and with Buster Keaton. Seeing him cast as a comedian in this dramatic backstage story, I expected St John to do some of his brilliant acrobatic pratfalls in 'The Dance of Life'. Unfortunately, we never see Bozo doing any of his act onstage, so St John's comedic talents are wasted in this film. But he handles the dramatic aspects of his supporting role very well.

Some of the dialogue in 'The Dance of Life' was considered quite racy at the time, but it will seem very tame now. Like this example:

GIRL: You wouldn't kid me, would you, mister?

BOY: I would if I could, sister, I would if I could.

In 1929, that was pretty close to a dirty joke. I recommend 'The Dance of Life' as a fascinating example of early talking pictures


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