Directed by Wesley Ruggles. US. 1934. NR. 85 minutes. Universal. 35mm.
Sun., May 3, 2015
“In the episodic story described in “Bolero,” George Raft is a dark and graceful dancer who works his way up through the honkey-tonks and dance halls, using his love-lorn admirers as stepping-stones. With chill contempt he fires his dancing partners whenever their emotions threaten to extend beyond the pattern of their dance. Raoul’s special ambition is to open a night club of his own in Paris and there offer to the discriminating his original arrangement of the “Bolero” on a circular stage criss-crossed with blinding lights and throbbing shadows.
Mr. Raft is a vivid and pictorially interesting type, rather than an actor in the technical sense, and consequently he proves unequal to the full implications of the fame-hungry dancer. The exterior attractiveness which Mr. Raft brings to the role gives “Bolero” considerable color, nevertheless, and the film, without coming close to realizing the real possibilities of the story as an overpowering study of megalomania, does manage to be moderately entertaining. “Bolero” is also helped by the performances of William Frawley, as the dancer’s brother and manager; of Carole Lombard, as the dance partner who turns out to be equally hard-boiled about romance and finally marries a member of the British peerage; and by Frances Drake, as another of Raoul’s partners, who finds herself unable to separate, as Raoul phrases it, pleasure from business. Sally Rand, the fan dancer, also takes part in the picture and handles several elementary bits of dialogue.” (The New York Times, 1934)