Stage Door

This fun flick from 1937 was mentioned in “The Movie Palace Mystery Series”, with an unfortunate misstatement (Rosalind Russell had no part!).  However, the cast is so wonderful that we just couldn’t resist revisiting the movie through Amazon Prime.  The story is centered around a boardinghouse (the Footlight Club) for aspiring actresses, and the boarders are a veritable treasure trove of early Hollywood beauty and talent.   We first are introduced to the characters played by Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Andrea Leeds and Ginger Rogers among others as they are gathered in the living room of the Club.  They are all largely unemployed but are game to go to every audition to secure a role that will at least pay their board if not secure worldwide acclaim.  Their banter amidst day to day travails really “sets the stage” (pun intended) for our concern for them, and interest in their lives.  We also meet the owner of the Club, employees there, and naturally, a few young and not-so-young men who are going out with several of the boarders.  Enter Katherine Hepburn’s character, Tracy, who is clearly more polished, wealthier, and possibly more of a snob than the other ladies (I refuse to call them “girls”).   She is, however, quite clearly determined to find out if she has what it takes to make it on the stage, despite the fact that her wealthy father is definitely not in agreement with her plans.    Well, of course we find that Tracy isn’t so much a snob as she is unaccustomed to the kind of friendship and rivalry found at the Club.  While the story about how and why Tracy lands a part for a new production (through some backdoor moves by her wealthy father) is somewhat expected, the plot also concerns one of the boarders who had been a success and yearned for that very same part as her road back to the spotlight.  Alas, not to be, with tragic consequences.  Without further spoilers, suffice it to say that our Kate ends up giving a wonderful performance, and the rest of the crew finally understand that she is truly one of them. As a side note, this is the film that contains that often-used line when imitating Hepburn, “The calla lilies are in bloom again…..” which she delivers with just the right high brow intonation. All in all, it was fun to see so many fresh young faces so early in their careers, with caustic yet witty dialogue at every turn, and we give it Good for an Afternoon. 

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