"Dakota," a young soldier on a pass in New York City, visits the famed Stage Door Canteen, where famous stars of the theatre and films appear and host a recreational center for servicemen ... See full summary »
Escaping to England from a French embezzlement charge, widower Henry Scarlett is accompanied by daughter Sylvia who, to avoid detection, "disguises" herself as a boy, "Sylvester." They are ... See full summary »
Franz Roberti is a famous orchestra conductor who has a number of girlfriends. While talking with his old music teacher, Professor Thalma, he meets Constance, an aspiring music composer. ... See full summary »
In rural 1840's Scotland, Gavin Dishart arrives to become the new "little minister" of Thrums's Auld Licht church. He meets a mysterious young gypsy girl in the dens and to his horror ... See full summary »
Mountain girl Trigger Hicks, a fierce loner equally handy with a rock or a prayer, is in danger of having her faith-healing mistaken for witchcraft by the neighbors. She shows a vulnerable ... See full summary »
Terry Randall, rich society beauty, has decided to see if she can break into the Broadway theatre scene without her family connections. She goes to live in a theatrical boarding house and finds her life caught up with those of the other inmates and the ever-present disappointment that theatrical hopefuls must live with. Her smart-mouth roommate, Jean, is approached by a powerful producer for more than just a role. And Terry's father has decided to give her career the shove by backing a production for her to star in, in which she's sure to flop. But his machinations hurt more than just Terry. Written by
Katharine Hepburn was in discussions to star in the original Broadway stage production of "Stage Door", but Broadway producer Leland Hayward, reportedly jealous of her deepening friendship with noted film director John Ford, cast his then-girlfriend Margaret Sullavan in the leading role. Hayward and Sullavan married one month after the stage play opened. Margaret Sullavan was considered for the film version but became pregnant with their first child, and the part went to Katharine Hepburn. See more »
The band at Club Grotto, where Jean and Annie perform a dance number, includes a female vocalist who can be seen singing in the background, but no vocals are heard on the soundtrack. See more »
[delivering her opening speech in the play within the movie]
The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.
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Very Enjoyable, With a Fine Cast and Many Other Strengths
With a fine cast and an interesting, worthwhile story, "Stage Door" is one of the best films of the late 1930's. It provides good comedy - at least if you can keep up with the fast-paced, many-sided dialogues - and some interesting drama in the lives of its characters. The characters are well-developed, even the minor ones, and this makes the dramatic developments that much more meaningful. The atmosphere is a convincing and very interesting look at life in the theater, neither overly glamourized nor overly sordid.
There is a great deal of talent in the cast, led by Katherine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers, whose characters clash in interesting ways. Adolphe Menjou is an ideal choice to play this kind of genial cad. Gail Patrick also is perfect as an elegant but venomous young performer. Constance Collier is amusing as the would-be mentor for the younger actresses. Andrea Leeds is very sympathetic in her role. Most of the other characters in the boarding house get only small stretches of screen time, but they all make good use of it. It's also enjoyable just to see the likes of Ann Miller, Lucille Ball, and Eve Arden in some of their earlier roles.
The cast is the most obvious of its strengths, but the writing is also quite good, and Gregory La Cava's direction is very good, maintaining a good pace without rushing anything, and keeping a good balance between the amusing and the serious sides of the story. Everything works very well, making for an enjoyable and thoughtful picture.
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