Mitzi Gaynor, at right above, in a sotto voce-hiss to Kay Kendall in Jack Cole‘s brilliant “Ladies in Waiting” dance sequence from LES GIRLS (MGM, 1957), delivers bad news. Kendall will soon be exposed as a chorus dancer to her fiancé and his proper family. The number, full of drama both comic and tragic, uses dance to extend the movie’s plot line and character arcs.
Set to a bawdy farcical Cole Porter song, “Ladies in Waiting” represents the creative pinnacle of a Hollywood choreography career that spanned from 1941 to 1960. Cole had engineered dance sequences like a demon by this point using every subject matter ranging from ultra modern to period to ethnic. But none incorporates his myriad skills in as stimulating a stew as “Ladies.” Cole created the number at MGM on what looks like a generous budget. Unlike much of his work at Columbia or at Fox, Cole had on this film a simpatico director, George Cukor; a great costume designer, Orry-Kelly (who won an Oscar for the movie, and I believe his frocks for Cole’s dance numbers converted his nomination into a win.) Cole also had a superb collaborator in the great cinematographer, Robert Surtees.
Read more about Jack Cole’s choreography for the camera in “Ladies in Waiting” here.
LES GIRLS will be included in All That Jack (Cole) film retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York starting January 20, 2016. The movie will be introduced by Barrie Chase, Jack Cole’s choreographic assistant on the project.