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Lady for a Night (1942)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  5 January 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 239 users  
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Gambling boat operator Jenny Blake throws over her gambler beau Jack Morgan in order to marry into high society. When her husband is killed in an attempt on her life, she is charged with ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play) (as Boyce Degaw) , 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Merivale ...
Stephen Alderson
Blanche Yurka ...
Julia Anderson
Ray Middleton ...
Alan Alderson
Edith Barrett ...
Katherine Alderson
Leonid Kinskey ...
Hattie Noel ...
Montagu Love ...
Dorothy Burgess ...
Guy Usher ...
Ivan Miller ...
Mayor Dickson
Patricia Knox ...
Lew Payton ...


Gambling boat operator Jenny Blake throws over her gambler beau Jack Morgan in order to marry into high society. When her husband is killed in an attempt on her life, she is charged with his murder. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dama por una noche  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film inspired the name of one of the most famous World War 2 bombers, the B-17 "Memphis Belle", one of the first to complete a full combat tour of 25 missions against targets in Nazi Germany in May 1943. The aircraft was the namesake of pilot Captain Robert K. Morgan's sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Morgan originally intended to call the B-17, Little One, after his pet name for her, but after Morgan and his co-pilot, Jim Verinis, saw this movie 'Lady for a Night', in which the leading character owns a riverboat named the Memphis Belle, he proposed that name to his crew.After their combat service the "Belle" and her crew were sent home on highly successful war bond tour. The "Belle" and her crew were also featured in an award winning 1944 documentary by William Wyler. See more »

Crazy Credits

Underneath the credits, there is some footage of extras dancing in front of the Alderson family's house. See more »


Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-é
Music by Henry J. Sayers
Special lyrics by Sol Meyer
Sung and Danced to by the can-can dancers at the ball
See more »

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User Reviews

Murder, music, and malice in old New Orleans.
3 May 2001 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

To start, this is not a John Wayne movie. Yes, he is in it, and yes, he is featured in a major role. However, his character is secondary. The primary character is Joan Blondell as Jenny Blake, the owner of a gambling boat on the Mississippi. Desperate to be accepted into society, Jenny is thrilled when she is announced Queen of the Mardi Gras, not knowing that man-about-town Jack Morgan (Wayne) rigged it. Memphis society is aghast and boos her. She becomes more determined than ever to break into society, and accepts the proposal of drunken plantation owner Alan Aldredge (Ray Middleton) to become his wife.

Alan's family, with the exception of his Aunt Katherine (Edith Barrett), is aghast at the entrance of Jenny into their blue-blooded family. Aunt Julia (Blanche Yurka), an evil looking woman, starts to scheme almost from the get-go, going out of her way to get rid of her new in-law. The gift of a blind horse as her own almost kills Jenny, and later Julia attempts to humiliate Jenny by arranging for no one to show up at the ball Jenny has planned. That is thwarted by Jack, who obviously has feelings for her. Julia's next step ends up in tragedy, with Jenny on trial for murder. But, with her luck, Jenny is saved from the hangman's noose, and learns a valuable lesson.

This Republic "B" feature is actually a pretty lavish costume drama. Blondell, a wonderful leading lady at Warners in the 30's, gets to show off her singing and dancing abilities in the "Up in a Balloon" production number. Later, at Jenny's party, there is a campy rendition of "Ba Ba Ba Boom De Yay!" during which Jenny's lively black maid (Hattie Noel, a second rate yet funny Hattie McDaniel) gets into the act. It is a camp moment that is still treasured by those who adore over-the-top cinema.

Wayne does not have much to do but step in to rescue Blondell in her times of need. This was not an important film for him, but for the cast playing the evil Alderson clan, it was a chance to show off their acting skills (or at least their hamming ability!). Phillip Merivale has little to do but disapprove of Jenny as Alan Alderson's elderly father, but his sisters (Yurka and Barrett) have great opportunities to show off their talents. Yurka, best known as Madame DeFarge in the Selznick production of "A Tale of Two Cities", is equally evil here; she is a definite rival with Judith Anderson and Gale Sondergaard as the perfect screen villianess. A stage star in the 1910's and 20's, Yurka is a combination Lady MacBeth and Madame DeFarge as she sets on her sites to make Jenny miserable. Deliciously camp (my guess it was unintentional), Yurka is a delight to watch from start to finish. As her fragile sister Katherine, Edith Barrett (the first Mrs. Vincent Price) is the epitome of sweetness, a total contrast to her evil sister. The scene where Barrett accuses her sister of having murdered her fiancée years before is powerful stuff, and makes us realize that underneath her fear of her sister, Katherine has a strong side determined to come out.

The less said about Middleton as Steve Alderson, the better. I will just say he is stiff, unromantic, and lacking in charisma. In other words-he was perfect as the husband Blondell couldn't love no matter how much money he had! While Hattie Noel's character may raise some eyebrows in today's society, she does create many laughs, especially when she arrives at the Alderson house by breaking down the side door when she is rebuffed by the stuffy black butler.

Although Leonard Maltin gives the film only two stars, I have to disagree with his review. Although no cinema classic, it is a very entertaining and light-hearted film, even with its macabre plot developments. Perfect for a rainy afternoon or the late show, "Lady For a Night" is worth a look as a camp classic.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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