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Born to Dance

(1936 b 106')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Cole Porter songs and tap dancing highlight this musical comedy about a sailor who romances two dancers in New York.

Sailors singing "Rolling Home" arrive in New York. Captain Percival Dingby (Raymond Walburn) gives a message to Gunny Saks (Sid Silvers) and Mush Tracy (Buddy Ebsen) to take to Brooklyn. At a Lonely Hearts Club Jenny Saks (Una Merkel) invites dancer Nora Paige (Eleanor Powell) to stay with her. Nora sings "Rap Tap on Wood" and tap dances. Jenny married a marathon dance partner; but he's been in the Navy for four years. Jenny kisses Ted Barker (James Stewart) instead of Gunny. Ted meets Nora and sings "Hey Babe." Gunny is put in the brig for forgetting to deliver the message. Jenny tells Nora she wants to keep Gunny from finding out about their child Sally (Juanita Quigley). Ted and Nora tour the honeymoon cottage with a double bed. On ship sailors welcome Lucy James (Virginia Bruce) by singing "Entrance of Lucy James." Lucy sings "Love Me Love My Pekinese." She drops her dog overboard; all the sailors jump in, but it is saved by Ted. Lucy's manager James McKay (Alan Dinehart) suggests a romance with Ted would be good publicity.

Ted only has three weeks left in the Navy and sings to Nora "Easy to Love;" then he kisses her. Nora sings and dances in the park. A policeman (Reginald Gardiner) conducts an unseen orchestra. Gunny in the brig loans Ted $10. Mush kisses Jenny for Gunny and gets slapped. Ted dines with Lucy and misses his date with Nora. Nora shows Jenny a news photo of Ted and Lucy. Ted calls Nora to explain, but she hangs up. A phone operator gossips, and Ted calls on McKay, asking him to give Nora a chance. Mush tells the captain he couldn't find Brooklyn, and the captain sends for Gunny. Nora and Jenny come aboard. Gunny greets Jenny, and Ted apologizes to Nora. Nora says she is Sally's mother, and Ted assumes she is married. Nora tells Ted she is Lucy's understudy. Jenny kisses Gunny and didn't like it but later changes her mind.

Lucy argues with McKay about not publicizing her private life. Lucy tells Ted that she won't go on if there is more publicity, and she sings "I've Got You Under My Skin." Mush and Gunny leave the Navy too. At rehearsal Peppy Turner (Frances Langford) sings "Easy to Love" as Mush dances. Lucy rejects her dress and complains about the musical arrangement. McKay tells Nora to dance. Lucy stops her and tells McKay to fire her or she'll quit. McKay lets Nora go. Jenny tells Ted that Nora isn't married and that Nora loves him. Ted calls a columnist that Lucy is marrying Ted. Lucy tells McKay she won't perform. McKay tells Ted there won't be a show without Lucy and demands that he tell her the truth or else. At the opening Peppy sings "Swingin' the Jinx Away" and Nora tap dances. Ted watches with a black eye; McKay has a black eye too. Jenny tells Gunny that Sally is their child. Gunny says he rejoined the Navy, and Jenny says she'll see him in four years. In the final scene Ted kisses Nora.

This story marries Navy patriotism with Broadway dancing, reflecting two aspects of American society in a very entertaining way. Jenny is concerned what the precocious Sally is learning from her conversation.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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