BOLERO George Raft

BOLERO. Paramount Pictures, 1934. George Raft, Carole Lombard, Sally Rand, Frances Drake, William Frawley, Ray Milland. Screenplay: Horace Jackson, based on a story by Carey Wilson & Kubec Glasmon. Director: Wesley Ruggles (and Mitchell Leisen, uncredited).

   Cornell Woolrich once claimed the plot of this film was stolen from an unpublished manuscript of his. Could be, but I doubt it.

   There are a couple of very Woolrichian concepts here (the hero makes a point of maintaining chaste relations with his dancing partners, and — WARNING!!! — at the Climax, he does his big Production Number and collapses dead on the floor… though this idea, which Woolrich used more than once, owes more to “Le Sacre du Printemps” than anything else) but by and large its pretty much the standard rags-to-riches thing beloved of 30s movie-makers, if not -goers.

   Watching it, you can see why, graceful as he was, George Raft never became a big Dancing Star; Raft’s forte as an actor was always Playing it Cool and Impassive, and though this works quite well in the fatalistic Last Ballet, the strained smile on his face is a definite handicap in the earlier “light-hearted” routines.

BOLERO George Raft