Jimmy Stewart: Was He Born to Dance and Sing?
When it comes to naming my favorite old movie star, no one else even comes close to Jimmy Stewart. I think he was a wonderful and diverse actor, a true gentleman in real life, and even though it’s not usually the first thing people think about him, at least not compared to actors like Clark Gable and Cary Grant, I find him to be extremely handsome and charming. I haven’t watched any of his westerns, but I have seen the majority of his most well-known or easy to find movies.
One of the movies that I had not yet seen until yesterday was the MGM musical Born to Dance (1936) starring Eleanor Powell. Jimmy Stewart’s profile on imdb.com mentioned that his undubbed singing voice was showcased in that movie, and I had been hoping to find a copy of it so I could hear him sing. While doing a search at my local library last week, I discovered that they had gotten a DVD collection of musicals called Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory, Volume 3 and was happy to find that it contained Born to Dance.
In that movie, Jimmy Stewart sings a few lines in the opening song, “Rolling Home”, but the song he’s most known for singing is “Easy to Love”, which he sang to his on screen love Nora Paige, played by Eleanor Powell. His singing ability has been debated by many who have watched this movie with the opinions ranging all the way from awful to excellent. I would say it is somewhere in between although his voice is definitely more pleasant than I thought it would be. I’m glad his voice was not dubbed, because I thought it added a certain charm to the song that might have been missing otherwise.
The Songs of Cole Porter
If you are a fan of Cole Porter, then this movie is definitely one you need to watch. In addition to the two songs mentioned above, he wrote both the music and the lyrics for the other songs featured in this movie. Another of those songs is the well known classic, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which was sung in this movie by Virginia Bruce and also used as the music for a beautiful dance routine starring the dancers Georges and Jalna. I have to admit that I was not all that familiar with the songs written by Cole Porter before I watched this movie so the version I was most familiar with was by Frank Sinatra. Learning that it was written by Cole Porter and performed by others many years before being sung by Sinatra was very interesting and provided the motivation to learn more about Porter’s music.
Jimmy Stewart doesn’t do much dancing in this movie as that is mostly left up to the fabulous Eleanor Powell and co-stars Buddy Ebsen and Frances Langford. Anyone who loves tap dancing should see this movie and experience Powell’s amazing talent, especially in the movie’s last scene set to Porter’s song “Swingin’ the Jinx Away”.
Born to Dance can be found on DVD as a double feature along with another Eleanor Powell movie, Lady Be Good.
Have you watched Born to Dance and if so, what did you think of Jimmy Stewart’s singing ability?