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
The AFI Catalog lists a stand-in for Olive Hatch. Since she is not in the cast, we may infer she once as a significant role in the movie, but eventually was dropped. Stand-ins are usually provided only for stars. See more »
In the scene between Terry and Tony Powell, where there is discussion about being 'framed', Powell is initially opposite Terry across the shelf with the photos, whereas in the next shot he has moved to being at right angles to her on her left side. See more »
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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