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Dance, Fools, Dance

(1931 b 81')

En:5 Ed: 5

Based on the Jack Lingle killing, this story shows how prohibition and the stock market crash lead to crime violence.

Adventurous Bonnie Jordan (Joan Crawford) goes swimming in her underwear at a society party; she tells Bob she believes in trying love out on approval without a ceremony and her father that she smokes before breakfast to keep thin. When the stock market crashes, her father has a heart attack and dies. Her family has lost everything, and their home and furniture are put up for sale. Bob offers to marry her as the "right thing to do," but she prefers freedom to such a proposal. While her brother Rodney (William Bakewell) is going to get drunk, she is going to look for a job. She says that society people are for you when you're on the up and up, but are nowhere when things get tough. "It's not who you are, but what you are, that counts." Bonnie works for a newspaper, and Rodney is hired by bootlegger Jake (Clark Gable) to sell liquor to his blue-blooded friends.

The rival Olansky gang has been slaughtered in a garage (like the St. Valentine's Day massacre) by Jake's men. Rodney drove the car, got sick, and goes to get a drink. He tells Bonnie's friend, reporter Scranton, he was the driver. So Jake orders Rodney to shoot Scranton or be killed, and he kills Scranton. Her editor sends Bonnie undercover, because she won't be recognized as a newspaperman. She dances for Jake, and he invites her to a private supper. She happens to hear her brother Rodney call Jake on the phone. She slips out and goes to his place to learn that he killed Scranton. Jake is waiting for Bonnie at her home, and he kidnaps her. Rodney comes in, and there is a shoot-out in which Jake and Rodney are killed. The police come in; she calls her editor and tells him the story. In the end Bonnie quits the paper and agrees to marry Bob.

This story shows what can happen to the rich after their money is gone, depending on one's character. Once again prohibition mob violence pushes the plot and leads to tragedy. The suggestion is planted that women can keep their weight down by smoking. The rich are portrayed as escaping the real challenges of life as they play, while those who must work face the consequences of their actions.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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