Dancing Co-Ed (1939) Poster

(1939)

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9/10
Unbelievably Beautiful Lana Turner
EightyProof4514 July 2004
This is perhaps Lana Turner's finest vehicle. It showcases her unbelievable beauty and vitality, and it also spotlights her generally undiscovered comedic talents. The plot of this film involves a nation-wide search for a "dancing co-ed" to replace a movie-star in a big budget film. Lana's character has been planted at one of the colleges under consideration, however the student-editor of the school newspaper suspects that the company has already chosen its girl. Under the theory that Sherlock Holmes never suspected Watson, Lana becomes his assistant, and successfully evades his search...of course, the two fall in love....

This movie gave me some of the biggest laughs I've ever had. It is simple, yet wonderful, and one of the most enjoyable films. Chalk up Dancing Co-Ed as another of 1939's countless cinema classics.
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6/10
Lana at her prettiest in an early shot at stardom...
Doylenf9 March 2006
Part of the fun in watching DANCING CO-ED is seeing just what a fine line-up of supporting players were available at the time of the studio contract system.

For example, here LANA TURNER is given RICHARD CARLSON, ARTIE SHAW, MONTY WOOLLEY, LEON ERROL, ROSCOE KARNS, ANN RUTHERFORD and LEE BOWMAN--all passing the time in a so-so programmer that is livened up by Lana's cheerful presence (and some nice hoofing) while Artie Shaw and His Orchestra provide some musical highlights in 1940s style.

The story is formula stuff about the misunderstandings between a showgirl planted at a college so she can win a dance contest taking place there. Despite some amusing situations along the way, nothing can keep an audience from knowing that a happy ending is around the bend.

It gives Lana Turner a chance to display her ample charms in some brief and very sexy dancing outfits while at the same time enjoying herself in a refreshing comedy role peppered with some romance. Richard Carlson does nicely as her college boyfriend and Artie Shaw keeps things humming along with some nice big band music.

It's strictly by the numbers but Turner's fans will all agree she's quite a knockout here. Turner at the height of her pulchritude was something the camera loved.
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7/10
A very young Lana Turner
blanche-26 July 2008
Lana Turner is a "Dancing Co-Ed" in this 1939 film also starring Ann Rutherford, Richard Carlson, Arte Shaw and his Orchestra and Monte Woolley. When one-half of the famous movie dancers, the Tobius', announces she's pregnant, the studio is talked into launching a Scarlett O'Hara type search in colleges to find a partner for the couple's next film. In order to make sure they cast the right person, a young actress at the studio, Patty Marlow (Turner) is sent to college with her friend from the studio, Eve Greeley (Ann Rutherford). However, the head of the college newspaper, Pug (Richard Carlson), thinks the contest is rigged. Patty quickly becomes Pug's assistant in uncovering a fix (becomes Holmes never suspected Watson of a crime). A complication arises when the two fall in love.

It's hard to understand how people can consider Lana Turner a terrible and wooden actress, though it's possible these critics haven't seen her early films. Talk about a camera loving an actress, and talk about an actress with "star" written all over her beautiful face, Lana was it. Beautiful, fresh, energetic, with a warmth and a sweetness about her, Lana walked away with these early films, including "Slightly Dangerous," "These Glamor Girls" and many others. She did lose some of these qualities as the years went on, sadly, but here, she's wonderful. Ann Rutherford is excellent too, with an expressive, pretty face and a charm all her own. What could have been a routine film is really lifted by these actresses and the supporting cast. Highly recommended as a light '30s film that will leave you with a smile on your face.
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7/10
Longtime No See
hcaraso2 April 2005
I saw this movie several times, in another life (before WWII), with another title (Invitation To Dance)and in another world (Eastern Europe). Artie Shaw was already a star, but didn't fill the expectations, perhaps too bright to stay in rank with other jazzmen.I never found an opportunity to see it again, is not even available at Amazon. I caught it last week on a TCM program, although the advertised cast mentioned only the names of Lana Turner and...Thurston Hall! In my humble opinion, this movie may illustrate a duel between the two great clarinet wizards, Benny Goodman The King Of Swing and Artie Shaw the King of Clarinet.The Midwestern jazz and majorette parade imitates but hardly matches the motorcade introducing Hollywood HOTEL (S. Sylvan Simon ain't Busby Berkeley!) but the dance contest sequence is excellent, with a special mention for TRAFFIC JAM, both for the music and for the staging. That air is bathing in Count Basian atmosphere, like the LADY BE GOOD rendition of the same line-up - with Buddy Rich for added entertainment.And in his second (and last) full-length movie,SECOND CHORUS, Artie Shaw lined up his Concerto For Clarinet, a masterpiece largely shown, not for just two minutes, like SING, SING, SING, in HH. The plot was entertaining, with many good quips and dialog. Good mentions for Roscoe Kearns and Ann Rutherford.And Lana Turner is, at least this time, fresh and unsophisticated. A must for all the Artie Shaw and Swing Era fans, although the jazz sequences - except TRAFFIC JAM - are unreasonably shortened. Harry Carasso, Paris, France
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8/10
Lana and Early Hollywood at Their Best
JLRMovieReviews1 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Lana Turner goes back to school, but only to win a dance contest (which stipulates a college student wins) to star in a new movie starring Lee Bowman, whose wife is now pregnant and can't make the movie. There are complications galore when Richard Carlson is determined to find a "plant" if there is one at their college. But "Sherlock never suspected Watson", so Lana helps him in his investigation.

Costarring Ann Rutherford (at her radiant best at something other than Andy Hardy's Polly), Roscoe Karns (who's great as an Hollywood bigwig's assistant), and Leon Errol (who's very memorable as Lana's father,) this is yet another movie of the kind they just don't make anymore. Not that it's very important or very life-changing, but it shows early Hollywood and its naive look at life, before they made movies with language and excess of everything unnecessary to movie-making.

Monty Woolley with his usual eloquent and memorable voice makes a brief appearance as an intimidating teacher. You can also spot Mary Beth Hughes and June Preisser, who was in a couple of the Mickey/Judy films as the rich society girl.

If you want to sit back and enjoy the early unpretentious years of Hollywood, then this upbeat movie is for you, which showcases a young Lana Turner at her sweetest. Who could ask for anything more?
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7/10
If only Lana Turner went to MY college!
MartinHafer27 September 2007
A musical is about ready to be filmed for a fictional studio. The only problem is that the lady from the dance team to star in the film is pregnant and they need to find a replacement. Roscoe Karnes has an idea to stage a phony search in colleges across the country for the actress' replacement--though in reality, he has already chosen Lana Turner for the role. So, he enrolls Lana at a college and pretends to have an honest to goodness competition. Unfortunately, complications arise and the film becomes a nice little romantic farce.

This is a rather old fashioned but fun old MGM musical that oddly stars Lana Turner. While I was surprised how well she could dance, you just normally don't think of her and dancing. Apparently it was originally to have been an Eleanor Powell film and it sure feels like one. Either could have done a fine job in this film, though seeing Turner in her more natural look of 1939 was very refreshing--with much less make-up and more natural looking hair. She was quite beautiful and more natural looking--making me wish that more co-eds had looked like this when I was in college. Uh, oh,...if my wife reads this, I am toast! By the way, while not a great film, it's a very good film and one even curmudgeons can enjoy.
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8/10
Very Funny-Very Entertaining
aimless-469 March 2006
A year after they appeared together in "Love Finds Andy Hardy", Lana Turner and Ann Rutherford were paired up in two 1939 films: "These Glamour Girls" and "Dancing Co-Ed". Beyond having a college setting (with Turner playing an outsider) and the same Director (S. Sylvan Simon) there was little similarity between the two films. Although not as ambitious, "Dancing Co-Ed" is a much more entertaining film. It is probably Turner's best performance and is indisputably her most timeless. She gets to show off her dancing and her surprising ability to do comedy. Plus she looks great in a charming girl-next-door way, playing a character that gets to smile a lot (she has a great smile-too bad so few of her roles utilized it).

The story revolves around a nationwide hunt to find a new female dance partner for a well-known dancer, a radio program runs a contest to select this partner from aspiring college students. But it is more publicity stunt than actual contest as vaudeville dancer Patty Marlow (Turner) has been pre-selected, she has enrolled in a university just to be technically eligible. Her agent's secretary (Rutherford) enrolls with her to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Complications arise when Pug (Richard Carlson), a reporter for the Porcupine (the student newspaper), begins to investigate the legitimacy of the contest. Carlson would became the king of 3D science fiction films in the 1950's.

"Dancing Co-Ed" has a lot going for it. Turner and Rutherford have excellent chemistry, their scenes work very well and you really believe that they are friends. It is a slick and funny script. The supporting cast actually has something to add to the production, particularly Monty Woolley as pompous Professor Lang and Leon Errol as Patty's vaudeville father.

Artie Shaw and His Orchestra are featured extensively and provide some great swing music. They are even in a parade with a college marching band featuring baton-twirling majorettes (who would have thought they had that kind of stuff way back in 1939).

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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What a handsome guy Artie was!
roger-7526 September 2010
More than a bit corny but Lana Turner was exceptional I thought as was Artie Shaw playing himself. No only was that a great band with Buddy Rich on drums but Artie was such a handsome guy and pretty good as an actor as well. A couple of years later he married Lana so she must have noticed him! She certainly bought a fresh beauty to the screen! She also acts very well and brings a sense of realism to the story that would otherwise be lacking. She certainly is impressive.

As usual with these films one of the really good reasons for watching it these days is the Artie Shaw band but they don't get a lot of time without having dialogue over them so its hard to realise how well they sound even by 21st century standards. This sort of big band has a wonderful sound and I love it.
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8/10
Meet the Blonde Bonfire
A_Different_Drummer19 February 2018
Which is how the studio PR Dept described Lana in her next few movies, significantly just after the male moviegoing public digested this one. As a B-grade comedy, it is simply that. As a Turner vehicle on the upward arc of her career it is something else. You were almost a decade into the Hayes Code and if you were looking for something a little higher octane than the typical Hollywood assembly line product, this was your stop. Turner, born in 1921, was a legitimate teen herself -- this was decades before Hollywood started casting "older for younger" -- and in short skirts, short shorts, and closeups, she steals the film at a felony level.
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10/10
Great fun, great beauty.
jjparish29 August 2018
What a pleasure it was to finally watch this film in a good quality print. You are fantastically rewarded if you are a fan of lana. Once it gets going she is in virtually every scene. This was right at the beginjing of her career, 18 years old, fresh faced, great legs, perfect for dancing. Which she does well. Its a shame she never really got to show off her dancing skills in many more films. Ann rutherwood was a worthy companion for her. The redhead and brunette make a neat contrast.
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Disappointing, Despite the Title
dougdoepke23 December 2017
Turner and Shaw fans expecting a musical may be disappointed despite the title. In fact the plot takes up a lot more time than the dance numbers. Even then what numbers that do appear are abbreviated, while Shaw's time is spotty. I guess I was expecting some big time swing and jitterbug to get the focus but they don't. Then too, the cast almost shouts their lines, which doesn't make them any funnier.

Anyway, the plot's something about a movie studio creating a bogus co-ed dance contest at selected colleges. The idea is to promote a new movie in which the contest winner will star. But the contest is really just a promotional gimmick since studio hopeful Turner is planted as the predetermined winner. Trouble is she gets personally involved at the college so complications arise.

It's a colorful cast with a magisterial Wooley, a fast-talking Karnes, and an unpredictable Errol. Then too, it's Richard Carlson a long way from his usual sober-sides. Fortunately, there are a few amusing moments that help, while Turner shines in the starring role. Her conventional role here makes it hard to believe it's the same actress as the hard-eyed vamp of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Together, the contrasting roles show what a fine actress she really was.

Anyway, maybe I was expecting too much from the title and cast, but unfortunately was disappointed with the result.
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6/10
Lana has some nice steps
bkoganbing12 December 2017
In this B picture from MGM on the upward arc of her career, Lana Turner shows us a few nice steps in a film that Ruby Keeler should have done over at Warner Brothers. Dancing Co-ed casts Lana as a vaudeville hoofer who has an act with her father Leon Errol. Over at Warner Brothers Pat O'Brien would have played the part of the studio press agent who dreams up a co-ed dance contest with the fix in for Turner. The winner gets to co-star with Lee Bowman in his next musical picture. The press agent is played with frenetic intensity by Roscoe Karns.

Keeping an eye on Lana is Ann Rutherford and to complete the deception Rutherford handles the scholastic part of Lana being a college girl. The fly in the ointment is Richard Carlson of the campus newspaper who suspects something ill is afoot. But Turner is sure appealing in those short tight dresses.

It wasn't the best of casting all around, but Turner shows the charm and appeal that would make her box office for years. Her's and Rutherford's dancing was adequate enough for the story. But if not Ruby Keeler, MGM certainly had Eleanor Powell on the lot who hoofed it with the best of them.

One thing Turner did get out of Dancing Co-ed is a first husband in band leader Artie Shaw. Both Shaw and Turner had about 15 marriages between them in their lives. Who could tell at that point.

Dancing Co-ed is one for Lana Turner fans and those who will become on after seeing this film.
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7/10
Dancing Co-Ed was a pretty enjoyable early Lana Turner vehicle
tavm27 December 2015
This is a movie I didn't know about until I checked the "classics" section at my local library and saw this title there. The fact it starred Lana Turner and Artie Shaw-who I knew were once married-was the reason I felt I had to check it out. Ms. Turner plays a dancer who enrolls in a college to qualify for a contest for a movie even though she's already picked for it! I'll stop there and just say this was quite funny with fine support by people like Roscoe Karns, Ann Rutherford, Monty Woolley, Thurston Hall, and Leon Errol. I especially liked the last one's dance steps. Shaw provides plenty of great music. While some of the plot seems out of joint, most of the dialogue is quite funny though don't try to make too much sense of that. So on that note, I recommend Dancing Co-Ed.
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