Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Virtually everybody except President Roosevelt was in the lavish MGM backstage musical Dancing Lady. Joan Crawford stars as Janie Barlow, an impoverished dancer reduced to working in a seedy Manhattan burlesque house. While on a slumming party with his society friend, wealthy young Tod Newton (Franchot Tone) spots Janie in the burleycue chorus line and immediately falls in love with her. When the joint is raided, Tod pays Janie's bail, but she resists his entreaties to become his mistress, promising instead to pay back every cent she owes him "honestly." With Tod's help, Janie is able to secure work in a big-time Broadway musical being staged by Patch Gallegher (Clark Gable), who is certain that the girl is an untalented opportunist and does everything he can to sabotage her audition. When he realizes that the girl "has something," he refuses to admit it but does, grudgingly, hire her for the show. Through a combination of skill and damned hard work, Janie ends up as the star of the show, whereupon Tod, worried that he'll lose the girl to the Great White Way, buys the show and promptly closes it. But Janie, who's fallen in love with Patch, teams with her new sweetheart to restage the show with their own meager savings -- and surprise of surprises, it's a smash hit. Truly an embarrassment of riches, Dancing Lady introduced Fred Astaire to the movie-going public, solidified the popularity of MGM's new tenor Nelson Eddy, and offered a wide berth for the comedy antics of Ted Healy and his Three Stooges -- Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine (Larry, performing his role in a Jewish dialect, has a wonderful double-take bit with a jigsaw puzzle which turns out to be a portrait of Adolf Hitler). As a bonus, the film offers spectacular musical production numbers, not to mention the enduring song hit "Everything I Have is Yours."
backstage, behind-the-scenes, burlesque, dance [art], playboy, romance, stage-manager