Dance Fools Dance (1931)
Release Date: February 7,1931
Directed by: Harry Beaumont
Available on DVD through The Warner Brothers Archive Collection
Crawford is Bonnie Jordan, a rich girl suddenly thrown into the real world after her father dies and she finds out all his money is gone. She goes to work as a writer for the local newspaper. One of her assignments is to go undercover and get a story on a gangster, Jake (Gable). As Jake pursues her romantically, Bonnie finds out that her unscrupulous brother Rodney (William Bakewell) has hooked up with Jake’s gang and is in deep trouble.
Photoplay magazine, March 1932
Again Joan Crawford proves herself a great dramatic actress. Again Billy Bakewell turns in a fine performance as her weak younger brother. The story, which concerns a one time wealthy girl who must work for a living, and a brother who falls in with gangsters, is hokum–but it’s good hokum and Joan breathes life into her characterization. It’s fast and thrilling entertainment.
Picture Play magazine, June 1931
There is no excuse for Joan Crawford’s new picture, not even the presence of the star, whose acting is in keeping with the inadequacy of the material provided, a rehash of half a dozen racketeer films, with a touch of a newspaper influence so popular. It is as synthetic a picture as you will find in all Hollywood’s desperate stenciling. Not that Miss Crawford falls below her standard and gives half measure. Heavens, no! She overdoes everything to such an extent that one feels that the strange-looking person she has permitted herself to become would reach hysteria in so simple a matter as buffing her nailes.
She is seen as a society girl who becomes an inexpert typist in a newspaper office and is assigned to ingratiate herself with a liquor racketeer and learn the truth about a murder which her editor believes he committed. So she gets a job in his night club and there Miss Crawford comes into her own as the only star who can dance in a way that wouldn’t make her a laughingstock among professionals. Everything from there on moves strictly according to formula. Miss Crawford makes the discovery that her young brother is the tool of the liqour baron and was forced to do the deed. In a shooting affray will those who meance the ending of the picture are killed off, including her brother. So the happy clinch is more than usually grateful to the disturbed spectator.
Such exceptional players as William Bakewell, Clarke [sic] Gable, Russell Hopton, and Purnell Pratt are given a free rein to go the limit, and how they act! Lester Vail and Cliff Edwards move more quietly, but they are equally ineffectual.
“Your name’s Jordan?” first line
“Now listen, kid. Money talks. And remember, in this business it’s the only thing that talks.”
“If we take you on, there’s certain rules of the game you’ve got to learn. Keeping your mouth shut’s one of them. But first, no matter what happens, don’t talk.”
“Now listen close. ‘Cause I don’t repeat myself! You got us into this jam and you’re going to get us out!”
“If you don’t come through, they’ll be a double murder!”
“Gee, you’re a cute kid.”
“You’ve got me glowing, sister.”
“You’re going to have a little supper with me tonight. Upstairs in my room. We’ve got to get better acquainted.”
“It’s hard to believe a girl like you ever came from Missouri.”
“Yeah, I get my share of publicity. More than I care about.”
“Take it easy now, don’t make a sound.”
“Thought you’d take it on the run, eh? Trying to slip out of town, I guess!”
“There’s nothing you can say that I want to hear! Now listen, Jordan, head for that door. Keep your arms down and walk straight ahead for that sister of yours.” last lines
Behind the Scenes:
Gable’s role was beefed up with more scenes to capitalize on his growing fame. After seeing their chemistry, producer Irving Thalberg insisted more scenes be added between Gable and Crawford.
Gable and Crawford were in the midst of a heated love affair during filming.