Furs on Film – Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

Finally, we are back with a full-on, legit, single film update post. It has been a while, TCM; thanks for finally ponying up a good one. This one fits into a few of my favorite categories. Foremost, it’s another entry from 1940 where the costume director didn’t get the memo about that regrettable sea change in fashion. It is also another entry in the “I Love 30’s and 40’s Film Star Lucille Ball” category. Too bad her career fizzled, and she never got into television. (Sarcasm, for the impaired.) Finally, yes, there’s a divorce. However, it’s only a subplot in this one. It’s time to Dance, Girl, Dance.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Film

A story of rags to burlesque to ballet riches about dancer Judy (Maureen O’Hara) and her friend/rival/friend again Tiger Lily (nee Bubbles), played by Miss Ball. Both end up competing for the affections of the same man, rich guy Jimmy, whose soon-to-be ex-wife we will see shortly. After Judy’s dreams of becoming a ballerina take a detour through Bubbles’ burlesque show as a “stooge,” their relationship strains a bit, leading to fisticuffs and an appearance in night court (not the one with capital letters, John Larroquette, and a pretty decent selection of 80’s foxes in the early seasons). Oh, and Jimmy ends up with Judy because it’s a lighthearted comedy from 1940.

Dance, Girl, Dance – The Furs

Bubbles’ rise from bit chorus girl to Tiger Lilly, the burlesque queen, is documented with her furs, and fortunately, the focus is heavily on the latter end of that dramatic arc. Miss Ball doesn’t support the film alone. As alluded to earlier, Judy’s love interest is rich and divorcing, and his ex-wife has a lot of furs to keep her warm. If you’re a fan of the lead, Maureen O’Hara, and hoping she’s in fur, I’ll disappoint you upfront.

Bubbles may be a poor bit player, but, in those days, poor bit players could afford a cruddy stole with bits attached. In terms of costume contributing to the story, this outfit certainly suggests Bubbles hasn’t entirely made it yet.

Lucille Ball in a Silver Fox Fur Stole - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

We switch to Jimmy and his pre-divorce wife Elinor, played by Virginia Field, coming home in this full silver fox fur wrap. She’s certainly made excellent use of her husband’s money.

Virginia Field in a Silver Fox Fur Wrap - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Bubbles attends an audition in this stole with the extra parts attached. Don’t worry; eventually, she becomes wealthy enough to afford furs that are actually finished.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Stole - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

There is a good, short close-up where it doesn’t matter what leftovers are still hanging onto the stole.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Stole - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Bubbles eventually makes it, becoming Tiger Lilly, but starting slow with a relatively conservative set of silver fox cuffs. Sadly for much of this sequence, she’s also accessorizing with a small dog as well. Here, she “propositions” Judy with an offer to perform ballet at the burlesque show.

Lucille Ball in a Silver Fox Fur Stole - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Judy is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so she accepts. She performs ballet for the burlesque crowd, to their great dismay. All part of the act, the recently minted Tiger Lilly appears to save the show and put on a little more “suitable” entertainment. She appears thusly:

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Hey, I’d cheer for that. Miss Ball performs most of the act wearing this white fox beauty, the showpiece of the entire film, and a fur documented as richly as it deserves to be.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

I’ve included a lot of shots from the act in the gallery. It’s a rather entertaining bit where she slides effortlessly between a “society” accent and something a bit more common.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Trying to keep up, Elinor breaks out a big . What better way to serve the divorce papers to Jimmy?

Virginia Field in a Lynx Fur Collar - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

This is another well-filmed fur, with quite a few close-ups that let us enjoy Virginia Field’s face framed by the high, fluffy lynx.

Virginia Field in a Lynx Fur Collar - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Tiger Lilly is back, competing collar versus collar, with this fox-trimmed coat. This collar displays one of the most important aspects of a good collar: beyond shoulder coverage. For the record, the best collars have trouble fitting through doorways.

Lucille Ball in a Fox Fur Collar - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

This is yet another well-filmed fur to add to the film’s impressive total.

Lucille Ball in a Fox Fur Collar - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

There are brief wide shots where you can see it’s not just the collar but also some trim at the bottom. Yes, it seems the cuffs are notably absent, so I have to dock some points for that.

Lucille Ball in a Fox Fur Collar - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Finally, and fittingly, the white fox makes a return engagement as the ladies are hauled into court after a bit of an altercation. Here, we see that Bubbles seems to have taken the greater amount of punishment.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

The scene includes some nice shots of the back of the coat. Obviously, the ideal would be to add the last collar to this coat, lengthen it with a four-foot train, add some elbow-length cuffs, some additional fringe, turn the collar into a hood… Whoops, train of thought kind of ran away there for a moment.

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

But wait, there’s more! Elinor shows up to the trial sporting a silver fox . I like the entire outfit here; the pinstripe suit and hat mix well with the muff.

Virginia Field in a Silver Fox Fur Muff - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Both together, you say? Sure!

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat and Virginia Field in a Silver Fox Fur Muff - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Even better than that last one? Sure!

Lucille Ball in a White Fox Fur Coat and Virginia Field in a Silver Fox Fur Muff - Dance, Girl, Dance 1940

Wow, this one works on several levels. It’s got an excellent marquee fur supported with a deep selection of additional pieces, all of which are well filmed. The furs that aren’t well filmed, particularly the few early pieces worn by Bubbles, don’t deserve it anyway. Miss Ball is lovely as ever in this period, still likable despite playing what amounts to the villainess of the piece. Granted, comparing Bubbles to Judy’s rather pedestrian aspiring ballerina is probably not even fair. Finally, at 13%, it’s a solid ratio, most of it supported by the best fur in the film.

Fur Runtime: approx 12 minutes
Film Runtime: 90 minutes
On-Screen Fur Ratio: 13%

9 thoughts on “Furs on Film – Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

  1. Love this! I’d forgotten about “Dance Girl Dance” – a film by one of the only women directors of the golden age: Dorothy Arzner. Although Lucy never did as well on the big screen, I kinda love her as her brassy, sassy self in these old pictures…

  2. I noticed the female director when I was researching for the synopsis, and it did seem odd, especially for the period. I was right, it was very odd, especially for the period, heh. Here’s her Wikipedia entry: Dorothy Arzner, worth a read for Miss Crawford’s quote alone.

  3. I was going to disagree with Ms P & C about her success in films but after looking at IMDB, I see that in the first thirty films she was in, she was listed as uncredited. The first two films she was in that are familiar to me were ‘Stage Door’ and ‘Joy of Living’ but she was well down the list of actors. None of her films really stand out to me as being really well known, well some of them are to me but I cannot imagine to the public at large. She seemed quite popular in the late forties and then (sighs with heavy heart), she became Lucy Ball and it all went down hill from there.
    However all was not lost; watch ‘Ricky Wants A Raise’ and ‘Mame!’, if only for the fur.

  4. Yep, according to Miss Ball’s entry, she was once referred to as “Queen of the B’s”. I suppose it’s telling enough she’s most remembered for that little television program neither of us particularly care for.

    I probably should have linked back to the entries where I stated my dislike of I Love Lucy explicitly, instead of my intentionally ironic statement about her success in television.

    1. I have not ever met one person who did not care for Lucille Ball and her show. She was a true actress, talented, intelligent and gorgeous! Obviously, some people are jealous of their lack of success

      1. Well, to clear this up a bit, I very much like Lucille Ball. I wouldn’t include her on this blog if I didn’t. If I don’t like someone, I’m fairly up front about it. Ask me about Marie Dressler sometime.

        The point is, I don’t care for the television show I Love Lucy, that’s all. Somehow I sense that still won’t please you, but fair enough, we’ll agree to disagree with that. I’ve stated clearly I think Miss Ball is a beautiful woman in her early films and those definitely shouldn’t be missed.

  5. I have to say I find your blog rather disturbing, a blog dedicated to the wearing of dead animals? May be you should mention in your blog the process in which these poor animals are killed in order to be made into fashion statements. What you are representing is pure selfishness for fashions sake, classy or maybe I should be saying sadistic!

  6. Hate to break this to you, Dusty, but the blow you’ve struck is a minor one at best. Maybe 30 people show up here a day (and that’s on a good week), and most depart quickly. I’d suggest you devote your time to more effective ways to pursue your goals. Argue your position in a more populous, neutral forum, for instance. I doubt most of my readers will be swayed, one way or another.

    That being said, I’m not a fan of censorship, and welcome the expression of opposing points of view. Conducting civil discourse on the matter is perfectly fine. I believe people are mature enough to make their own decisions, and have no problem with anyone who chooses not to wear fur.

    I’d urge any who comment on “our” side to remain civil as well. Resorting to name calling merely lowers you the level of those who consider desecrating graves a valid form of argument.

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