A vaudeville star has to leave her daughter with her dead husband's stuffy Boston parents while she makes a living. But when the daughter shows some talent, the mother become a stage mother...
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A vaudeville star has to leave her daughter with her dead husband's stuffy Boston parents while she makes a living. But when the daughter shows some talent, the mother become a stage mother and pushes her daughter into becoming a Broadway star. The mother is a monster with a heart of gold, and after breaking up the daughter's love affair, finally sees the error of her ways. Written by
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Katherine 'Kitty' Lorraine:
I'm going to Boston to Fred's people. They sent me a telegram.
What, live in Boston? I'd hate to take a kid as young as that one to that town. it's liable to make her peculiar for life!
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STAGE MOTHER is almost a great film, starring Alice Brady as a so-so Vaudevillian who pushes her daughter (Maureen O'Sullivan) into "the business" when it's clear she can't make it on her own. As in Applause (1929), we see the seedy side of the business with lots of backstage scenes. Film starts out with pregnant Kitty (Brady) watching her husband do an aerial act that goes bad. After she has the baby she goes to "his people" in Boston and is grudgingly taken in by the stereotypical Boston family. Eventually she can't stand it and moves out, leaving the kid. Years later she gets the kid back and pushes her into dancing lessons etc. Of course she becomes a star. She's preyed upon by men (Ben Alexander) and has romances with a couple guys (Franchot Tone and Phillips Holmes) before the end credits.
Brady is great as the ferocious mother whose life centers on controlling her daughter while she lives off her. O'Sullivan (looking very busty indeed) is very good until she's supposed to be this dancing and singing mega star. O'Sullivan can't do either, so it's long shots of some other performer while O'Sullivan smiles sweetly in the close-ups. Tone and Holmes are fine as the romancers. Ted Healy plays a ham comic and the second husband. Others include Russell Hardie as Fred, Larry Fine (minus More and Curly) as a store customer, Lillian Harmer as the Boston mother, and C. Henry Gordon as the hood. No IMDb info on who plays the old maid sister or the auditioning kid singer.
Songs include "Beautiful Girl," which also showed up that same year in GOING Hollywood and the infectious "Dancing on a Rainbow," which is a big production number. This MGM production has the look and feel of a Warners backstage musical, which in this case is a good thing.
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