A messy divorce leaves Mrs. Leslie Carter shunned by Chicago society for being an adulteress and forbidden from having custody of her son. She's determined to return to her hometown in a ... See full summary »
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John G. Blystone
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Olivia de Havilland,
A messy divorce leaves Mrs. Leslie Carter shunned by Chicago society for being an adulteress and forbidden from having custody of her son. She's determined to return to her hometown in a few years as a success and with enough money to fight to get her son back. In order to realize her plans, she heads to New York with ambitions of being a great actress. Despite having no stage training, producer David Belasco becomes attracted to her and becomes intent on making her a star, as well as winning her heart. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
None of the Broadway plays mentioned in the movie were performed by Mrs. Leslie Carter. Her Broadway debut was in a play called "The Ugly Duckling" in 1890, not "The Way of Beauty." Her second play was "Zaza," not "The Lady From France." It is not known why the names of her plays were changed. See more »
Mrs. Leslie Carter:
Actors aren't supposed to be human beings, are they? They're strange animals always on exhibition.
Mrs. Leslie Carter:
Why people love to admire them as they would a good bit of horseflesh, or a brilliant peacock spreading its feathers.
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Miriam Hopkins is "The Lady with Red Hair" in this 1940 biopic of Mrs. Leslie Carter which also stars Claude Rains as David Belasco, Richard Ainley as Lou Payne, and a fine cast of supporting players, including Laura Hope Crews and Victor Jory.
Miriam Hopkins and Claude Rains give wonderful performances. Hopkins was a beautiful actress who really makes us feel for Mrs. Carter. Rains is great as the flamboyant, egotistical producer/writer/actor/impresario David Belasco, one of the great names in theater.
Though Mrs. Carter's second husband, Lou Payne, served as adviser on this film, it's a poor representation of the real events of Mrs. Carter's life. True, there was a much publicized and bitter divorce, and she was undoubtedly viewed as a scandalous character for that and for becoming an actress. However, she had custody of her son Dudley, so there was no custody battle. Once she broke with Belasco, she did not go back to him and, in fact, started working in vaudeville and actually made some films toward the end of her life. She did indeed marry Lou, and he became her leading man in many productions.
The driving force for Mrs. Carter in the beginning of this film is regaining custody of her son, but she finally realizes that in her time away from him, he is thoroughly bonded with his father. In the film also (and I'm not sure if it was true in real life) she traveled with her mother and lived in a theatrical boarding house, which gives the film some added interesting atmosphere.
Not a bad movie, probably not a depiction of the greatness of either Carter or Belasco. One of Mrs. Carter's most famous moments was in The Heart of Maryland, where she wore a wig with six-foot tresses. Off-stage, fans blew her hair as she hung 35 feet above the stage clutching the center of a bell to keep it from ringing. Quite a visual.
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