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ON YOUR TOES ~ (1939) ~ Zorina, Eddie Albert, Alan Hale, Erik Rhodes, Donald O'Connor


ON YOUR TOES ~ (1939) ~ Zorina, Eddie Albert, Alan Hale, Erik Rhodes, Donald O'Connor

Note:   This is a pristine print of the 1939 classic film adaptation of the Broadway musical.


  • Vera Zorina (Vera Barnova)
  • Eddie Albert (Phil Dolan Jr.)
  • Alan Hale (Sergei Alexandrovitch)
  • Frank McHugh (Paddy Reilly)
  • James Gleason (Phil Dolan Sr.)
  • Leonid Kinskey (Ivan Boultonoff)
  • Gloria Dickson (Peggy Porterfield),
  • Queenie Smith (Mrs. Dolan)
  • Erik Rhodes (Konstantin Morrisine)
  • Berton Churchill (Donald Henderson)
  • Donald O'Connor (Phil Jr. as a Boy)

In 1939, Warner Bros. filmed On Your Toes as adapted by Sig Herzig and Lawrence Riley and written by Richard Macauley and Jerry Wald , with Ray Enright directing.

Although some of the songs from the Broadway score were used as background music, the film does not have any singing in it. The " Slaughter on Tenth Avenue " ballet does appear at the end of the film, with choreography by George Balanchine , one of eight films for which he would create the dances.

Eddie Albert's character dances the lead in the ballet, opposite Zorina. According to John Reid, "Albert is no dancer...But with the aid of a visual double for one or two shots plus post-synched taps, he actually manages rather well, and even duets with the great Zorina with reasonable facility."


In the 1920's, vaudeville reigned supreme as the Dancing Dolans tapped their way across the nation's stages. Fifteen years later, the act has become dated, and son Junior decides to quit to become a great composer.

While in a bar, Junior meets Russian composer Ivan Boultonoff, who offers to teach him the art of composition. The pair return to Ivan's hotel room, where the Russian ballet troupe of impresario Sergei Alexandrovitch is quartered. That night, as Ivan dozes, Junior composes a ballet he names "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." The next morning, Ivan awakens and presents the composition as his own to Alexandrovitch, who takes an instant disliking to Junior. In addition to Alexandrovitch, Junior also meets Vera Barnova, the troupe's prima ballerina whom, he discovers, he knew as a girl in vaudeville.

As Vera and Junior resume their romance, one of the dancers in the chorus disappears, and Junior is pressed into dancing his part. When Junior's performance turns the turgid ballet into a farce, however, Junior flees the theater in disgrace.

The critics, however, hail Junior's blunder as a new technique, prompting Peggy Porterfield, the ballet's patroness, to insist upon staging "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue." The embarrassed Junior returns to bid Vera farewell, and when Vera discovers that he and not Ivan wrote the ballet, she insists upon his participation in the show.

Junior's ideas clash with those of Constantine Morrisine, the lead male dancer, and when their disagreement ends in a skirmish, Morrisine breaks his ankle, forcing Junior to take his place on stage. Meanwhile, the resentful Alexandrovitch arranges for Junior to be assassinated at the end of the dance, but Ivan discovers his plot and saves Junior's life as the curtain falls to thunderous applause.


On Your Toes was originally conceived as a film, and as a vehicle for Fred Astaire. His refusal of the part, because he thought that the role clashed with his debonair image developed in his contemporary films, caused it to be presented initially as a stage production. Richard Rodgers wrote: "Astaire at that point in his career was a pretty chic fellow who usually wore white ties and tails, and the producers felt that there was no chance in our script for him to appear that way."Astaire thought that the ballet background in the plot was too "highbrow" for his audiences. 

Ray Bolger was given the stage role, which allowed him to rise to stardom.

Eddie Albert, not known as a dancer in his career, gave a remarkable performance opposite Vera Zorina in the 1939 film.

Donald O’Connor plays young Eddie Albert

Year(s): 10.14.39

Format: DVD

Run time: 94m

Country: USA

Language: English

B&W / Color: B&W

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