Norma Shearer ended her onscreen days with a trio of pictures that proved, more or less definitively, that what had seemed like a new direction in The Women (Norma playing a spirited, contemporary woman with a sense of humor) was actually a dead end, for they took her back to the aristo settings and Great Lady moments that had made up too much of her work in the '30s.
This isn't, as some have suggested, a case of a studio easing out a falling star (as Warner's did Kay Francis) by throwing her into quickies or stinting on production values. No; it's simply that suddenly it's the 40s, and what Norma does just doesn't play any more. Escape, Her Cardboard Lover, and this one, We Were Dancing, all had respectable sources (a popular novel, a stage favorite, and a pair of Coward one-acts) and were given the full glossy MGM finish - sets, costumes, lingering flattering close-ups, and hordes of extras when necessary. Escape had a Special Prestige Guest Star in Alla Nazimova, and both it and Cardboard Lover paired Norma with rising favorite Robert Taylor.
We Were Dancing is the Shearer picture that time forgot, and this trailer goes a long way in showing why. It's perfectly fine to fill out out a movie with people like Lee Bowman and veteran character player Alan Mowbray; it's quite another to claim that they constitute part of a "7 Star" cast. It doesn't help that Norma's been burdened with a coiffure that appears to be equal parts meringue and Sue Ann Nivens, or that even when being slapped, Melvyn Douglas looks to be waiting for his next date with Ninotchka. This is the Norma Shearer parodied by Charles Busch - lavish, exquisite in her self-regard, and totally pointless.
All of which is to say I can't wait to see it in its entirely when next the opportunity arises - on top of Norma, Norma, Norma, it has a bit by a very young Ava Gardner, a turn by Marjorie Main as a lady judge, and a moment or two for professional dowager Norma Varden. With all that and Norma's dresses, what more could one ask?