We Were Dancing (1942): Robert Z. Leonard’s Screwball Romantic Comedy, Starring Norma Shearer and Melvyn Douglas

Robert Z. Leonard directed We Were Dancing, a romantic comedy written by Claudine West, Hans Rameau and George Froeschel, and starring Norma Shearer and Melvyn Douglas.

It is based loosely on Noël Coward’s 1935 play of the same name, along with elements from Ways and Means, another play in Coward’s Tonight at 8.30 play cycle, and Coward’s Private Lives.


We Were Dancing
We Were Dancing (film).jpg


In one of her very last films before retiring, Norma Shearer plays Vicki Wilomirska, an impoverished Polish princess, who falls madly in love while dancing with the charming but penniless Austrian baron Nicki Prax (Melvyn Douglas). Even so, she ends her engagement to wealthy lawyer Hubert Tyler (Lee Bowman), and marry secretly. But they are exposed by Nicki’s ex-girlfriend, decorator Linda Wayne (Gail Patrick).

The two support themselves by being professional house guests in the homes of American nouveau riche, who are impressed by Old World aristocracy. Eventually Nicki decides to get a job. Linda pursues Nicki, and Vicki, brokenhearted, sues for divorce. Hubert represents Vicki in the case, and despite Nicki’s declaration of his love, the teary judge grants the divorce.

Norma Shearer as Vicki Wilomirska
Melvyn Douglas as Nicki Prax
Gail Patrick as Linda Wayne
Lee Bowman as Hubert Tyler
Marjorie Main as Judge Sidney Hawkes
Reginald Owen as Major Tyler-Blane
Alan Mowbray as Grand Duke Basil
Florence Bates as Mrs. Vanderlip
Heather Thatcher as Mrs. Tyler-Blane
Connie Gilchrist as Olive Ransome
Nella Walker as Mrs. Janet Bentley
Adriana Caselotti as Singer
Florence Shirley as Mrs. Charteris

The movie was not commercially popular.


Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
Produced by Leonard, Orville O. Dull
Screenplay by Claudine West, Hans Rameau, George Froeschel, based on We Were Dancing, 1935 play by Noël Coward
Music by Noël Coward, Bronislau Kaper
Cinematography Robert Planck
Edited by George Boemler
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: April 30, 1942 (New York)

Running time: 95 minutes
Budget $1,085,000
Box office $1,079,000

TCM showed it September 22, 2020