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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Unfinished Dance (1947)

A young ballerina (Margaret O'Brien) in training worships the lead dancer (Cyd Charisse) at the ballet school she attends. When another dancer (Karin Booth) arrives and is given SWAN LAKE instead of the resident dancer, the child plots to throw the stage into darkness to sabotage her performance. But she pulls the wrong switch which opens the trap door sending the dancer into a fall that will end her career. Despite the bright three strip Technicolor, gorgeous costumes, the adorable O'Brien in the lead and Danny Thomas (in his film debut) stopping the action to sing two ditties, this is a rather dark film. O'Brien's conscience so bothers her that it drives her to the brink of a breakdown while the self centered object of her idolatry (Charisse) turns out not to have been worth the worship. This may be O'Brien's best screen performance and both Charisse and Booth do very well, too. Thomas's character is just plain annoying. I can see that MGM was hoping that he'd be a new star but he just takes space on the screen. The ballet numbers are wonderful though. Directed by Henry Koster (THE ROBE). The large cast includes Marie Windsor, Elinor Donahue, Esther Dale, Barbara Billingsley, Connie Gilchrist and Ann Codee.

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