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I watched this old movie about a decade ago (early 2000), but have so far been unable to find it via Google or the IMDB.

By old, I mean it seemed like something from the 1940s or 1950s. I am not sure anymore, if it was black & white. I am sure, though, that it was not a silent movie.

The plot involved a woman, who is a dancer, her father, who is some kind of artificer/tinkerer, and the (possibly to be) husband of the woman.

The father crafted a machine/robot in the likeness of his daughter (played by the same actress as the daughter), which was able to perform a dance. I think this was for some important event to showcase his prowess or something in that vein. The woman or possibly her husband accidentally damaged the machine, so it could no longer perform its dance. They do not tell the father for whatever reason. On the day of the event, the daughter masquerades as the robot and performs the dance in its stead.

Aside from these few plot-scraps, I remember that there were three different dance-styles: the living daughter, the machine daughter and especially the living daughter masquerading as the machine, all very well done by the actress.

Any ideas?

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  • 1
    This is (more or less) the plot of the classic ETA Hoffman story "The sandman" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sandman_(short_story), which has apparently been made into a movie (imdb.com/title/tt0286939 - however the movie is pretty recent, but is decribed as " semi-silent, quasi-expressionist") - I have not seen the movie but it might be worth to check out. Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 10:13
  • The story almost reminds me of the classic ballet Coppelia. Could someone have made a film version with a slightly changed story?
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 17:34
  • ...and after a bit of checking, turns out that Coppelia is based on E.T.A. Hoffman's Der Sandmann, so Eike beat me to the punch.
    – Martha
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 17:43
  • Hmm, judging by the summary, the Coppelia movie from 1968 seems to contain most of the things I can remember. Though I don't remember there being any other machines/dolls than the inventor's daughter. And I am quite sure it was not a 100% ballet movie, like the Coppelia movie seems to be. Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 13:31
  • Something like this happened in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but I'm pretty sure the tinkerer was in on the act.
    – z0r
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:36

4 Answers 4

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From your description the obvious answer (seeing as you have said it was a talky thus ruling out Metropolis) would probably be "The Perfect Woman"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041744/

Although I've only seen scraps of it, so I'm not sure about all the dancing bits.

There's not much info on the IMDB summary page. About this much:

In need of cash, Roger Cavendish and his valet take a job escorting the perfect woman for a night on the town. She is in fact the robotic creation of Professor Belman, but it turns out rather to be the Professor's niece Penelope doing a pretty good imitation of the perfect Olga who winds up with them in the bridal suite at the Hotel Splendide.

My old copy of The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction (1st edition, and long ago misplaced) had a little article on it which is why it rang a bell with me.

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  • Welcome to SFF.SE! Could you edit in a short summary of this film (e.g. copied from the IMDb entry)? We tend to discourage link-only answers here, since if the link dies the answer is rendered essentially useless. Thanks :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 19:27
  • This one? dailymotion.com/video/x29xctu_the-perfect-woman-1949_shortfilms
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 20:41
  • While the Perfect Woman shares a few base themes with the movie I am looking for, it is not the one. The machine in that movie was made to only do a dance performance. It could do nothing else. Thanks for pointing it out to me, though. By the description I want to watch it :) Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 13:09
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Do you recall if it was silent or a talky? If it was silent, it might have been Fritz Lang's Metropolis, from 1927. Some of your recollections tally, some don't.

Here's the dance scene from Metropolis, as danced by the robot Futura masquerading as Maria. I don't recall the human Maria taking Futura's place, but it has been a very long time since I saw this film. Regardless, the clip of the dance scene should be enough to rule out Metropolis if it isn't the film you're thinking of.

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  • It was no silent movie. And as you said, in Metropolis the change of place was the other way around, the machine replaced the woman. Commented Aug 8, 2012 at 0:19
  • There was a 1984 version with sound and (tinted) color. Wikipedia sez : "In 1984, a new restoration and edit of the film was made by Giorgio Moroder. Moroder's version of the film was tinted throughout, featured additional special effects, subtitles instead of intertitles and a pop soundtrack instead of a traditional score."
    – sjl
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 6:42
  • IMHO the description from the OP does not match the theme of Metropolis at all.
    – chiccodoro
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 8:56
  • IMHO you are absolutely correct, but memory can be a funny and imprecise thing. Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 12:07
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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, has a scene were the lady in the film acts like a music box, while the tinkerer(father) acts like a dummy that also sings. I doubt this is what you're looking for, but it has similar elements, and was from the 40s/50s?

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  • You are right, it was not Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 12:56
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Recognizing that you have stated that you do not believe this to be a silent film, 1919 The Doll matches up with the plotline.

Because the Baron of Chanterelle wants to preserve his family line, he forces his timid nephew, Lancelot, to choose one of the village maidens, to wed. Lancelot flees to a monastery to escape the forty, eager maidens. When the gluttonous monks discover that the Baron is offering a large sum for the marriage, they suggest Lancelot marry a mechanical doll instead. The doll maker has just finished making a replica of his daughter Ossi, but his assistant accidentally breaks it and convinces the real girl to mimic the doll. Lancelot buys her, thinking she is a doll, and takes her back to the monastery, where they are wed.

You can see the scene of the dolls being presented by dancing around the 25 minute mark.

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  • I know that Walt mentioned it above, but I wanted to post it as an answer.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 23:18

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