Lady Be Good (1941): Oscar-Winning Musical, Starring Eleanor Powell, Ann Sothern, and Robert Young

In Lady Be Good, a musical produced by Arthur Freed, Ann Sothern and Robert Young play married songwriters, who have to deal with both career and domestic problems.

The cast includes Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell, Lionel Barrymore, and Dan Dailey.

The musical, directed by Norman Z. McLeod, is also notable for its Oscar-winning son, “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” which, ironically, was not about love but about the fall of the city to the Nazis.

This was the first of several films Eleanor Powell made with Red Skelton. Powell received top billing, but Sothern and Young are the main stars. They play Dixie Donegan, a would-be lyric writer, and Eddie Crane, a struggling composer.

The film’s title and theme song (“Oh, Lady be Good!”) derives from the 1924 George and Ira Gershwin Broadway musical, Lady Be Good, but otherwise there’s little resemblance.

MGM devised the film as a vehicle to launch Sothern as a musical star, but she and Young were known as comedians, so the studio brought in Powell for a supporting role, but gave her top billing to attract audiences.

This film’s most notable sequence involves an epic tap dance routine by Powell, to the melody of Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm,” a song taken from the play.

This musical number, directed by Busby Berkeley, later was used in two films in the That’s Entertainment! documentary series.

Another sequence features Powell doing a dance routine with a dog that she herself had trained for the number.

There are also some good dance routines by the Berry Brothers.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Song: The Last Time I Saw Paris, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Oscar Awards: 1

Best Song