An aging actor, trying to make a comeback on Broadway, is surprised when his estranged daughter shows up. It seems that she is an actress and is also trying to make it on Broadway. He tries... See full summary »
An aging actor, trying to make a comeback on Broadway, is surprised when his estranged daughter shows up. It seems that she is an actress and is also trying to make it on Broadway. He tries to re-establish his relationship with her while also trying to hide the fact that she is his daughter from the press. Written by
Accomplished Director John M. Stahl commendably engineers this well-designed screen play revolving around a striving young actress who clings with hope onto a "Letter of Introduction" to present to a veteran theatrical star.
In conjunction with a "visiting card" or "calling card," a letter of introduction would play an important role in the social graces of yesteryear, as one would not interact socially with an individual of distinction, without having been introduced by a peer who shares a connection with either party.
But, in this case, that one opportunity appears jeopardized one winter evening, as crowds congregate around New York City to revel in New Year's Eve.
Katherine 'Kay' Martin (Andrea Leeds) and Edgar Bergen (Edgar Bergen as Himself) pace through the outdoor celebration to witness a stream of smoke's billowing from their residence apartment building. When Edgar defies guards to rush onto his cement staircase and into the building, Katherine pleads with him to salvage a folder in her bureau of drawers.
Edgar manages to rescue his ventriloquism partner, Charlie McCarthy (Himself) from their second story unit, but deems it unsafe to attempt to climb another floor to Katherine's room.
But another spectator, neighbor Barry Paige (George Murphy) dares to accommodate Katherine's wish, by escorting her onto the third floor of the building aflame, to retrieve her "Letter of Introduction," for nothing else does she wish to salvage among her possessions, before they rush for sanctuary via a fire escape.
Honey (Rita Johnson), the dancing partner and admirer of Barry Paige, plus house-mate Cora Phelps (Eve Arden), welcome Katherine, Edgar and Charlie into their residence and circle, as they celebrate the arrival of a brand new year. Honey puts on a brave front when Barry admits his admiration from afar of Katherine, quite possibly hoping that Katherine sets her designs elsewhere, as Cora remarks that she prefers waiting for Charlie McCarthy rather than for Edgar Bergen.
Everyone among this newly-expanded troupe of striving performers, with the exception of Barry, expresses delight in Katherine's plan to pay a visit to the residence of established actor John Mannering (Adolphe Menjou), at which she is received by his valet, Andrews, the Butler (Ernest Cossart), but vehemently resented by Lydia Hoyt (Ann Sheridan), the young fiancée of John Mannering.
John, however, receives Katherine with a grain of caution, but, after reading the correspondence which she present, embraces her sympathetically. He aspires to mentor her fledging stage career, as his has experienced a decline upon returning to Broadway in the aftermath of a ten-year stint in Hollywood, acting in motion pictures.
The theatre in those days would maintain itself as the legitimate venue for the Performing Arts and snub film acting (as film may have turned its chin away from television during its infancy and beyond to an extent, and, perhaps, as television quite possibly would to the stage, in a sort of "full circle fashion").
At any rate, these characters, who portray performers in "plays within a play" fashion, find their lives undergoing a variety of ups and downs, causing a series of ins and outs among their relationships, as a result of one influential "Letter of Introduction." Edgar Bergan, as we may have noticed, portrays himself, along with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, who appears toward the climax of the film.
(Films of the 1930's and 40's sometimes feature an event as a performer portraying himself/herself aside from the Biopics and Backlot Pictures, but this also inflicts a certain restriction for the direction of the character, as it mustn't change history, as it were. But the ever-cordial Edgar and company add a nice touch of vitality and authenticity to the presentation.)
Most of these other stars also shine in roles akin to type, with Andrea Leeds, handling her aspirations while dwelling upon an unfortunate past in outstanding fashion; Rita Johnson, shining as a complaisant ingénue who realizes that she may draw the short straw; Eve Arden, flinging her customary wisecracks from one side of town to another; Adolphe Menjou and George Murphy playing their recurring "borderline cads," who must face the results of their errors; Ernest Cossart in his polite supporting way, and Ann Sheridan a bit wild as the excessively jealous fiancée. Neither Charlie McCarthy nor Mortimer Snerd change very much over the years.
Frank Jenks has a role as Joe, theatre prompter, in a supporting cast which consists of many character performers of the day, including John Archer, Irving Bacon, Brooks Benedict, Don Brodie, Dorothy Granger, Jonathan Hale, Grace Hayle, Eddie Hall, Constance Moore, Phillip Trent, Richard Tucker, Ray Walker, Morgan Wallace and Dick Winslow.
One point which seems to border on the "goofs" coincides with Barry's declaration of having stared from his window into Katherine's room on several occasions before they meet, but from the exteriors, their apartment buildings stand flush with each other, without the slightest width of a lot between them.
All in all, a pleasant film experience, a little downbeat in places, but unpredictable, and featuring a wonderful cast, who, naturally, add a great deal to its fine entertainment value.
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