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USA 1939
Directed by
Ray Enright
94 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

On Your Toes

Although originally written for the screen, Rodgers and Hart's innovative jazz ballet musical started life as a Broadway musical after Fred Astaire declined the lead. It opened in 1936 to considerable success.

For the movie version the song score was dropped, leaving only two set pieces, the ballet numbers "Princess Zenobia" and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" preserved here essentially with their original Balanchine choreography. Eddie Albert, in a role which was played by Ray Bolger in the stage production, plays Phil Dolan Jr., a young man who grows up in his parents' vaudeville act (his younger self is played by Donald O’Connor who had grown up similarly) but sets out to make a career for himself as a legitimate music composer. This leads him eventually to be involved with a Russian ballet troupe headed up by impressario  Sergei Alexandrovitch (played with brio by Alan Hale) and his childhood sweetheart, Vera Barnova, played by Balanchine's soon-to-be wife, Vera Zorina.

Albert is no hoofer (close ups of his tapping during the “Slaughter” number were clearly of another performer) and bereft of songs the film is more of a curio these days than a contending musical, albeit a passably enjoyable one. 




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