The Unfinished Dance, for those of you who weren't impressionable little girls in 1947, was a ballet flick starring Margaret O'Brien, at that time my favorite movie star. She got top billing. Cyd Charisse played the ballerina she worshipped, and Karin Booth (who?) was the classy dancer whose career little Margaret O'Brien ruined when she pulled the lever to open the trap door during Swan Lake, causing her idol's rival to fall and injure her spine in some unspecified way. Her injuries didn't keep her from walking, or indeed from dancing beautifully for about a minute and a half, after which she would collapse attractively on the stage in a half-swoon. She was finished as a dancer, though. Cyd Charisse's character triumphantly took all her parts.
Watching that movie again, it was clear to me why we loved it, and why it inspired me to give up tap and take up ballet dancing, even though I was clumsy and the toe shoes made my feet hurt. It was full of delectable little girls, just like us except that they could dance on point. Elinor Donahue was in it. Remember her? The teenager in Father Knows Best? She played Margaret O'Brien's best friend, dancing beautifully, completely charming. We wanted to be her. We wanted to be Margaret O'Brien. We wanted to have those girls for friends. We went home and whined at our mothers until we all got toe shoes.
IMDB says that The Unfinished Dance has been available as a Warner Home Video since 2011. Who knew? Maybe I should get it! But, no. Some movies you only want to see once every five or six decades.
© 2013 Kate Gallison