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 ...
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Gregory La Cava
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 <email@example.com>
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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David Belasco is not a forgotten name - he played too important a role in Broadway from 1880 - 1931 (when he died). He was a prolific playwright, and two of his works still retain the stage - although as operas (MADAME BUTTERFLY and THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST, both composed by Puccini). But his real forte was directing and producing, for he got the most out of his stars. As Claude Rains says in this film, when asked if he could save Mrs. Leslie Carter's acting ability, "I'm David Belasco! I can make a telegraph pole look good!"
Belasco was not flawless. He was an egomaniac, who insisted on total obedience to his direction if anyone sought him as an acting mentor (as Mrs. Carter did). He was also determined to be memorable as a personality, going about in a suit reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church (he basically dressed like a priest). While he did improve the acting of his period, his taste in drama tended to be of the melodramas and sentimental play variety. Brooks Atkinson (in his book, Broadway) dismissed him as a ham and poseur, but he was better in bringing a professional structure to acting. Too frequently in that period actors were not as prepared or controlled to give their audiences their money's worth of good acting.
Mrs. Leslie Carter was a minor socialite from the midwest who wanted to go on stage. In the movie she is played (rather well) by Miriam Hopkins. Mrs. Carter got involved in a messy divorce from her husband, in which she lost custody of her only son. Under Belasco's tutalage she became one of the leading female stars of her age. She did try to resume her relationship with the son, but she was so involved in building her art and stage reputation her son was nearly ten when she saw him again. The relationship was never resumed. As for her career it blossomed, but she decided to remarry. Belasco expected to be consulted and wasn't, so he broke with her.
After a decade of floundering, a rapproachment with Belasco was arranged, and her career resumed it's previous success.
As an interesting slice of theatrical history THE LADY WITH RED HAIR (which, ironically, is a black and white film) is worth watching. Rains and Hopkins give their typically best work in their lead roles. I would definitely recommend the film.
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