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This movie must have played very well to depression-era audiences. The story
of an apple seller who has been lying to her daughter who has done well for
herself in Europe is sweet, heart touching and funny.
Great, quotable lines in the script, well written. The outdoors night photography is luminous, everything seems to glow, a scene in an outdoor garden with the daughter and her fiancee kissing behind a glass water fountain is beautiful to this day.
The ideas of friends and strangers coming to a needy person's aid prefigures such later Capra classics as "It's A Wonderful Life". In fact, they would make an excellent double feature together.
In our cynical times, movies like this can be seen as hokey, in fact the name Capra was frequently turned into Capra-corn, even in his day. But the fact that his movies are still treasured and enjoyed today shows that goodness is still an enduring quality and that being drawn to goodness and fairy tales like this gives us hope that those feelings are still in us.
This sublime, charming fairy tale, about an old apple seller (the lovely
Robson) who is helped by a gangster named Dave the Dude (Warren William)
his buddies in order to make her rich and respectable for her returning
daughter and in-law from Spain, is conceivably Capra's freshest, most
underrated classic, perhaps with the exception of "The Bitter Tea of
Yen", which was also released in 1933. While "Bitter Tea" was a commercial
flop, "Lady For a Day" proved to be Capra's first big success with the
Depression-era audiences and a sign of things to come. A must-see!
Glenn Ford and Betty Davis in color fall short competing with the BW original version with lesser known but more convincing actors. Lets face facts. Glenn Ford never played a convincing bad guy/bad boy. On the other hand little known Warren William had to convince the viewers that he wasn't a bad guy all the time. Dave the Dude is basically a bad guy with a touch of good. Even his act of kindness to Annie is self serving. This movie is a perfect example that technical advances don't make a better story, lesser known actors can play the role better, and age can define whether any work of art can stand up to the ultimate critic - Time. Different audiences, tastes, standards and means of portraying the play, are the ultimate judge regarding the worth of the production.
Almost 70 years on, this film is as fresh as ever, with brilliant performances, great dialogue, and an irresistible story, even if you don't believe in fairy tales. Watch out for the butler's line, addressing Happy MacGuire, who talks in the not-so-grammatically-correct mob-lingo of the 1930s: "If I had a choice of weapon with you, Sir, I'd choose grammar." Definitely a must see!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm no Capra fan, but here's a second movie of his (along with "The
Miracle Woman") that I just loved. Maybe his pre-Codes are better than
his other movies? I may have to change my mind about Capra, or at least
see some more of his pre-Code movies; they're terrific!
This movie was sweet and touching, without being sickening sweet or melodramatic. This movie also has lots of humor and some great dialogue. This 72-yr-old movie holds up extremely well. I was utterly charmed by this movie.
The story revolves around an elderly woman, Apple Annie, who is quite poor. She sells apples for a living and sends all her money to her daughter, Louise, who lives in Spain. Annie is ashamed of her lifestyle, and she leads her daughter to believe she's a high-society lady by writing letters on the stationery of a posh hotel. Annie even has a friend on the inside of the hotel who passes Louise's letters that are sent to the hotel to Annie.
One of Apple Annie's clients is "Dave the Dude", the head of a local mob. Before he does any business dealings, Dave always buys an apple from Annie for good luck.
Well, not to spoil the movie too much, let me just say that Annie finds out her daughter is coming to town (New York) and she panics. Her panhandler friends talk Dave into setting Annie up in a suite at the posh hotel so that she can continue the pretense for her daughter's sake. Dave gets most of his mobster and street friends involved in one way or another -- the potential is here for great sappiness, but amazingly the story unfolds with just pure sweetness and lots of humor that has held up very well over the past 3/4-century.
The performances by the lead actors were terrific. May Robson as Annie was wonderful; she gave a tender, subtle performance as the mother who loved her daughter so much, yet was so ashamed of the way she (Annie) lived. Warren William was terrific as Dave the Dude - I think his was probably the toughest role to play as he had to be a "bad guy" mob head as well as a softie who went out of his way to make Annie a lady for a day. Guy Kibbee as Annie's husband was superb, a common pool hustler who played an upper-crust gentleman. The rest of the cast were pretty good too ... I especially enjoyed the actor who played the dry and sardonic "Happy"; he had some of the best lines in the show.
So, in conclusion, snappy dialogue, nice mix of drama and humor, and just the right amount of sweetness make for a wonderful pre-Code movie. If you enjoy old movies, this is a movie that you definitely won't be sorry you watched. Highly recommended.
This is the first step by Capra to celebrity. It's a warm
charming comedy, a kind of fairy tale set in the early
with all the tips that made gangster movies of that time
precious. There are the nicknames (Happy McGuire, who don't
smile), the words (a kisser is a woman's lips) and even
music (Hear Ned Sparks whistle The Prisonner's Song when
are cops around The Dude night club.) All the actors are
but May Robson gives a great emotional performance. Even
this movie is very representative of the 1930's, it stills
sounds very fresh today. Please, don't look at the version that Capra will made in the early 1960's, with Bette Davis. This is the real thing!
Back in the days of the studio system only one B picture outfit managed
to vault itself into the big time and compete with the majors. That
studio was Harry Cohn's Columbia and the film that did it was Frank
Capra's Lady For A Day.
In his very candid memoirs Capra said unabashedly that his goal was to win one of those statues nicknamed Oscar. The Motion Picture Academy Awards were only five years old, but still the awards were coveted then because it meant prestige and far bigger salaries and in a director's case, bigger budgets to work with.
Capra said he tried and failed with a very arty film, The Bitter Tea of General Yen which lost money for Columbia and Cohn. He set out try it a different way with a sentimental story from that most sentimental of writers, Damon Runyon. The original story was entitled Madame LaGimp and it was about a street beggar who the great city of New York takes to its heart for a brief period with the assistance of a gangster with a streak of sentiment.
But this was Columbia, the poverty row studio so Capra couldn't get the only old lady movie star around in Marie Dressler from MGM. May Robson was his second choice for Apple Annie, the street beggar who has a daughter in a convent school in Spain and engaged to marry into Spanish nobility.
As for the gangster Capra wanted James Cagney, but Harry Cohn couldn't pry him loose from Jack Warner. He was offered Warren William instead and certainly the dapper and elegant William played a different kind of gangster than Cagney would have. For William's moll, Capra's partner and screenwriter for Lady for a Day Robert Riskin persuaded his then girl friend Glenda Farrell to take the part. She Jack Warner was willing to part with.
With the great skill that Capra had in casting his films, some of the best character actors around like Guy Kibbee, Nat Pendleton, Ned Sparks, and Walter Connolly filled out his roster. A lot of these people would work for Frank Capra again and again.
Came Oscar time and Lady for a Day had the great distinction of being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay adapted from another source. This was the first film from Columbia Pictures that was ever nominated for anything by the Motion Picture Academy. May Robson made Capra forget he ever wanted Marie Dressler. Unfortunately she lost to a young actress picking up her first of four Oscars, Katharine Hepburn.
Riskin lost to the writers of Little Women and the film itself lost that year to the British story Cavalcade. One of the most embarrassing moments in Frank Capra's life occurred when Awards host Will Rogers in announcing the Best Director said "come up and get it Frank."
Capra rose thinking it was him and the spotlights came down on him. Then there was a frantic buzzing and the spotlight shifted to the opposite side of the hall where Frank Lloyd got up to accept the award that was meant for him for directing Cavalcade. Talk about feeling like a nickel looking for change.
However next year Capra's next film It Happened One Night swept all the major Oscars including his first. It sounds like something that only could have happened in a Frank Capra movie.
For a middle class Indian guy like me falling head over heels for
Hollywood movies and especially for B/W beauties is like making Ned
Sparks laugh.... very difficult!
And yet in love I am with Hollywood for movies like 'The Lady For A Day'.
( What you haven't seen it? Rent it or better BUY it .. Right Now!)
It's pure magic from beginning to end.
Performances are top notch.Warren Williams with his voice n charm, Ned Sparks with his comments and May Robson for her great performance make the film a legend.
Let's not forget Frank Capra. It actually makes you wonder weather it is Capra's direction , the performances or the storyline which sets this film apart.
Capra's brand of comedies is well known. And this one is an out n out success!
Whatever be the ingredients it's poetry in motion. It's a must watch for true fans and it should be made compulsory for the 'Scary Movies Gang'.
Others have said it all! However, check out the beautiful love scene
photographed through a glass fountain. Absolutely GORGEOUS! Solid
performances from the stars right down to the supporting actors. I
think we hardly ever see great supporting actors like these any more.
Frank Capra wrote about this movie in his autobiography, apparently one of his first hits, using the recipe of lesser-known actors, a great scriptwriter, and a low budget. He relies heavily on the great supporting actors available to him and gave them all a Runyon-esquire quality which never fails to please. They are all just great! Check this movie out! It gets better every time I see it!
this is the film that precedes IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT for the team of
Frank Capra (director) and Robert Riskin (screenwriter). Sadly it's not
regarded as one of his beloved classics...it deserves to be. William
Warren is the perfect Dave the Dude, who's heart of gold aids the
distressed aged damsel (May Robson...the titled LADY FOR A DAY). Most
of it's innocent charm and humor haven't faded over the 71 years since
it's release. Speaking of 70's...at 74 May Robson was the oldest
actress to receive a Best Actress nomination.
the scene near the end; where she's received by the real mayor of New York and his party guests at her phony party (meant to show off her "society" friends to her daughter, and future inlaws) is priceless. Miss Robson's quiet, teary eyed smile will still bring the viewer to near tears today. Also, Guy Kibbie, and Ned Sparks provide reliable comic support. a must see for all Capra fans.
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