Lady Be Good is an MGM musical film released in 1941. The film stars dancer Eleanor Powell, along with Ann Sothern, Robert Young, Lionel Barrymore, and Red Skelton. It was directed by Norman Z. McLeod and produced by Arthur Freed. This was the first of several films Powell made with Skelton. Powell received top billing, but Sothern and Young are the main stars. They play, respectively, Dixie Donegan, a would-be lyric writer and Eddie Crane, a struggling composer.
The film takes its title and theme song ("Oh, Lady be Good!") from the 1924 George and Ira Gershwin Broadway musical, Lady Be Good, but otherwise has no connection to the play. According to film historian Robert Osborne in his introduction to a broadcast of the film on Turner Classic Movies in August 2006, MGM devised the film as a vehicle to launch Sothern as a musical star. However, since she and Young were known primarily as light comic stars, the studio brought in Powell for a supporting role, but gave her top billing to attract audiences.
This film's most notable sequence involves an epic tap dance routine by Powell, to the melody of Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm" (another song taken from the play). This musical number later featured in two films in the That's Entertainment! documentary series. In one of the films (That's Entertainment! III), behind-the-scenes footage reveals how this scene was accomplished. So Powell could dance between a series of pianos without interruption, stage hands quietly removed pieces of the set off-camera as she worked her way across the stage. This musical sequence was directed by Busby Berkeley. Another sequence features Powell doing a dance routine with a dog that she trained for the number. There are also phenomenal dance routines by the Berry Brothers. The film won an Academy Award for Best Song for The Last Time I Saw Paris, composed by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II.