GO INTO YOUR DANCE (Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz, Robert Florey, 1935)

One of the most richly scored, dazzlingly entertaining Hollywood musicals ever, and perhaps my father’s favorite film, Go Into Your Dance was directed by Archie Mayo, although a few extraneous, inserted scenes were directed by others. Al Jolson is brilliant as Al Howard, a stage star trying to get back into the business after walking out on one show too many. Rebuffed, Howard aims to produce his own musical show with the financial backing of mobster Duke Hutchinson, who wants his wife, Luana, to have the comeback she desires. To steady her career jitters, though, Luana advances sexually on Al, tossing everything into jeopardy, including Al’s life.
     Arguably the greatest musical entertainer of all time, Jolson claims here his most electrifying onscreen delivery of a song—and what a song it is: “She’s a Latin from Manhattan,” music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin: “. . . She can take her tambourine and whack it,/ But to her it’s just a racket;/ She’s a hoofer from Fifth Avenu-ue./ She’s a Latin from Manhattan,/ She’s a 42nd Streeter;/ She’s a Latin from Manhattan,/ Señorita Donahue.” All the film’s thematic strands beautifully come together in this song, including American self-reinvention, theatrical illusion, moral transvestism. With its Gatsbyism delightfully deepened by Jolson’s sexual ambiguity, this may be the best song Warren and Dubin ever created (although they won Oscars that same year for “Lullaby of Broadway” in Gold-Diggers of 1935). Throughout, the dancing is wonderful, but it is specifically for the “Latin from Manhattan” number that choreographer Bobby Connelly was Oscar-nominated.
     Jolson and then-wife Ruby Keeler are warm and hilarious together (this is also Keeler’s best performance), and Helen Morgan, as Luana, hauntingly sings “The Little Things You Used to Do.”

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