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Aspiring actress Louise Muban attends the prestigious Paris School of Drama during the day and works at a dreary factory assembling gas meters at night. She daydreams and "acts" her way through life, and her fellow students at school begin to suspect her stories are just that - fabrications. After Louise begins to weave an actual meeting with a debonair playboy into a fantasy of club dates and romance, her co-student Nana discovers the lie when she too meets the playboy. Nana sets a trap for Louise, and the result is an end to one fantasy and the realization of another. Written by
Luise Rainer feels herself an actress at heart. She is very serious at her studies and at being the best she can be. But, unfortunately, she is very poor and needs to work at a factory at night to make money. Therefore, she sometimes falls asleep in class. At work, she meets some rich society people and an stage actress, Genevieve Tobin, who is doing research for a role. Enter Alan Marshal, who is intrigued by Luise, when she refuses jewelry. (Long story! Watch the movie!)
Luise Rainer is the central character at this dramatic school, but there are lots of other recognizable faces in this movie. Other students are played by Paulette Goddard, Lana Turner, Virginia Grey, Hans Conried, Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks. The latter two are both from "Gone with the Wind," Ann being Scarlet's sister and Rand, as Scarlet's husband who ultimately dies from scarlet fever in the civil war.
Gale Sondergaard, Margaret Dumont, and Henry Stephenson are the staff, with Gale being great as usual, especially as Juliet in her interpretation in class. Melville Cooper and Erik Rhodes (from Fred/Ginger movies with an accent, but here with absolutely none - shocking) round out the rest of the cast.
If you've never seen Luise Rainer before, this is nice little film that I have always liked for personal reasons, and she has the most serious eyes I've ever seen. Her strong demeanor yet fragile frame sets her apart from other actresses. I love the scene where she says to teacher Margaret Dumont, "Marie Antoinette was a queen. So she would walk like a queen."
Most of the other girls seem to be superficial or silly, like Lana, who's given practically nothing to do and Virginia Grey. Both Lana and Virginia would be in four other films together. Paulette Goddard who's known to have some spirit and fire about her is put to good use and comes across as three-dimensional. Besides Paulette and Luise, the only one who really shines is Ann Rutherford as Rand's girlfriend, who's only there because he thinks he can act, like his father and grandfather before him.
Ann Rutherford's character is happy to just be wherever he is and she is shown to great advantage. Ann Rutherford was a very beautiful actress, who always embodied to me a kind of quiet purity mixed in with sweetness.
So, spend some time with some pretty young ladies in a dramatic school. And, just be happy wherever you are!
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