Where do you start in a movie like this? I guess the basic plot is the best place. Judy O’Brien (Maureen O’Hara) is an aspiring dancer who can’t compete with her fellow troupe member Bubbles (Lucille Ball…yes, THAT Lucille Ball). At some point, Bubbles becomes a major burlesque dancer and invites Judy to do her ballet dancing on the stage, which is really a setup for her as a stooge to take boos every night. Somewhere in this, there’s also a romance plot, a dance studio that would really love to have Judy if she would stop being an idiot about the situation, scenes right out of a screwball comedy, scenes right out of pure showbiz melodrama, and a courtroom finale.
If this all sounds like a lot…well, it is. Characters come in and disappear at will. Judy’s dance troupe, who she’s supposed to be trying to get a job for, just vanishes from the plot about a third of the way in, which includes Judy’s friend. The love interest makes an appearance early on that isn’t followed up on until the final third. An apparently important, and actually very good, dance number is just a pointless scene. The owner of the dance studio and his secretary have a lot of chemistry and good lines together, almost like they were supposed to be the focus of the movie. And honestly, it probably would’ve made a better movie.
Not that it’s a bad movie. It’s certainly watchable, and if you don’t mind making a few snarky comments along the way, it can be a lot of fun. It’s just very uneven. It wants to be the drama, the comedy, the romance, the feminist piece. The climactic scene takes place when Judy stands up in front of the burlesque audience and tears right into them about what they’re doing, which is actually pretty powerful…and yet this is followed up by a courtroom scene with another speech that just falls flat. Still, there’s worse ways to spend an hour and 30 minutes, and it’s fun to see Lucille Ball pre-I Love Lucy.