Dancing in the Dark (1949)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Showbiz Comedy, Musical Comedy  |   Release Date - Dec 2, 1949 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Dancing in the Dark is a mildly enjoyable little musical that benefits greatly from the star presence of leading man William Powell. Dark had the potential to be a much better musical, given that it includes a number of choice Arthur Schwartz-Howard Dietz songs, has a nifty "inside look" at both Hollywood and Broadway frames of reference, and features a leading character that has some real (and unusual for the time) bite to him. Unfortunately, Dark doesn't take full advantage of these assets. Most of the fine songs are presented to much better advantage four years later in The Band Wagon; the "inside look" is fudged a little too often; and Powell's character loses his rough edges as the story bogs down in typical Hollywood sentiment. It doesn't help that Betsy Drake is miscast as the soon-to-be-star; she's pleasant and amiable, but doesn't project the star quality that is essential. She moves well enough, but Drake never lights up the screen during the musical numbers. Fortunately, Powell is on hand to make up for the deficiencies, and he does a marvelous job, relishing the character's initial egoism and even making the change of heart both believable and palatable. Adolphe Menjou's imitation of Darryl F. Zanuck is a hoot, and director Irving G. Reis keeps things moving along at a decent clip. Dancing in the Dark is not a great musical, but it manages to come out ahead, thanks largely to Powell and Menjou.