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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Wage Poor

Stage Door (1937) on IMDb

A young well-dressed woman enters a building signed Footlights Club. It's full of other women who pass around some pecans (eastern -än pronunciation.) This is “a respect­able house.” A cynical Judy Canfield (Lucille Ball) from Seattle who's on the phone asks another, “You want a date?” At first the other demurs not wanting her footsies trod on again by one of Judy's lumber­jack catches, but she changes her mind when told a dinner offer is included—she's tired of the regular board of cheap lamb stew. The way they're packed into such a “peaceful little house we have here” it's obvious they're doing it to save on dough. “This is a theatrical boarding house” filled with aspiring young stars whose ship has yet to arrive.

An effervescent Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers) is the designated queen bee. She's assigned for a room­mate newly arrived Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn) flashing some cash at the front desk and displaying a picture of an older gentle­man assumed to be her sugar daddy. The assessment of the place that “it's a little like a three-ring circus” is spot on.

Jean and another girl get a dancing gig at Club Grotto where Jean catches the eye (“She's a little barmy”) of producer Anthony Powell (Adolphe Menjou) who learns she's “living at the Foot­lights Club.” He calls her for a different kind of audition at his penthouse.

Various men hold different opinions of these girls (“Everyone around here is putting in his 2¢ worth, some of them promiscuously.”) Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds) has her flag­ging career cut tragically short, which will affect the other women in various ways.


Terry is set up for failure in a choice part in “Enchanted April”, which coveted lead Kay had sought after. Terry's wealthy father (Samuel S. Hinds) wants to put the kibosh on his society girl daughter's aspirations. Never before has such an inept actress been seen in rehearsal, at least not since Woody Allen's “Bullets Over Broad­way”—where the lead's enter­prising body­guard having watched her try, remarks, “You don't know how to act, Alice” and fixes it so her under­study must take over. Further­more, Terry is so opinionated that she cannot be coached; she responds wrongly to every suggestion.

And yet some transformation will occur, as per (Prov. 16:1) “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.” Woody Allen's “Bullets Over Broad­way” under­study did well, too. Making an omelet requires breaking an egg.

(Prov. 16:2) “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.” Producer Anthony Powell could behave disreput­ably and still think well of him­self. From his pent­house he will feed the aspiring actress the line, “It's a wonder­ful little view. It's a beautiful city! Just like a fairyland. It's full of color, romance, illusion, glamour.”

Jean Maitland replies, “It sounds like a fairy story.”

Anthony Powell rejoins, “Isn't life a fairy story? Aren't grown up people little children at heart? Oh, I know at the office I'm gruff Anthony Powell, theatrical producer. That's a pose. Here with you, I'm just a tired little boy with a dream.”

Oh, so innocent he is, but God actually accounts for all those fairies.

(Prov. 16:3) “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Terry is committed to follow in the foot­steps of her adventure­some grand­father, and her thoughts of success will actually come to fruition.

(Prov. 16:4) “The LORD hath made all things for him­self: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” The “three-ring circus” of life is for God's pleasure, even the actress who takes the part another actress wanted and later experiences some kind of karmic retribution.

(Prov. 16:5) “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished.” Terry's father rich and proud joined hands with the theater industry to get his green­horn daughter a challenging main part she was sure to fail in, so to end her nonsense of an acting career. The tables sure turned on him, though.

Production Values

This all-star film, “” (1937) was directed by Gregory LaCava. Its screen­play was written by Morrie Ryskind & Anthony Veiller from a play by Edna Ferber & George S. Kaufman, though little of the original play survives in the finished product. Kaufman's play had an actual romance in it; in “Stage Door” romance is in the back­ground some­where if it can be discovered at all. It stars Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, and Andrea Leeds, with a lot of other bright lights, as well. The acting is uniformly excellent; each actress portrays a unique character.

The censors muted some of the material to get the film to pass muster in this pre-ratings era. For comparison in Canada it received a video rating of PG. The sharp dialogue was scripted from the short­hand notes of an eaves­dropper who surreptitiously copied what actual actress wannabes spoke with each other. Their chatter in the film is there­fore realistic but compressed into super-repartee.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

My movie class treated this film as “a profoundly feminist movie” but except for one rich bitch all the other troupers in “Stage Door” treated the shenanigans of the powerful producer like business-as-usual. “9 to 5” it ain't. To me it was just a chick flick, plain and simple, which I liked because I like all kinds of movies, but all their (clever) conversation is enough to drive a sane guy bonkers. Lots of stars were in this one, with lots of good acting, but in a dated plot. Never­the­less, some people like old time movies. Think it through and decide accordingly whether to see it.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.