Act One (1963)

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Story of the life of writer/playwright Moss Hart.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Moss Hart
Joe Hyman
Sam Levene ...
Richard Maxwell
Ruth Ford ...
Warren Stone
Joseph Leon ...
Max Seigel
Lester Sweyd
Martin Wolfson ...
Mr. Hart
Sam Groom ...
David Starr
Sammy Smith ...
Louise Larabee ...
Clara Baum
Oliver Fisher
Teddy Manson (as Jonathan Lippe)


Moss Hart's best-selling autobiography provided the basis for this colorful backstage story. The film depicts Hart as a struggling young playwright in 1929, searching for a sympathetic impresario. Although his manuscript is rejected by a Broadway tycoon, a less prominent manager finally agrees to produce it - on the condition that Hart will get George S. Kaufman, a leading comedy writer, to collaborate on the final script. Hart sets out to convince Kaufman of his play's value, and so begins one of the most famous partnerships in the American theatre. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama





Release Date:

26 December 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Primeiro acto  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Anthony Perkins and Dean Jones were early contenders for role of Moss Hart. See more »


As the train heads to Atlantic City, it is being pulled by a steam locomotive but the sound it makes is that of a diesel horn. See more »

Crazy Credits

"Curtain" (instead of "The End") See more »


Referenced in True Romance (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Good intentions, limited appeal
2 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Playwright Moss Hart delighted readers with his bestselling memoir of his early career. But when producer Dore Schary turned the book into a script after Hart's death, something got lost. This is a bland movie. While people interested in the literary scene of the 1920s will surely enjoy watching it, there's not much to enthrall the average viewer.

George Hamilton plays the young Hart, a talented guy with big dreams and little money. His close-knit Jewish family inspires him to push on with his writing career, but his equally penniless friends can sometimes be more discouraging than supportive.

After many disappointments trying to market his plays, Hart gets a foot in the door when the famed George S. Kaufman agrees to collaborate with him. But Hart soon finds that writing as part of a team can be harder than working alone. Jason Robards Jr., as the maddeningly eccentric Kaufman, is the best part of this movie.

"Act One" is about a man's struggle to come up with a good story to tell, but the story it tells is disappointingly weak. Especially in the early portion, it seems more like a series of anecdotes than a narrative. That may be because the film was adapted from a memoir, but a better writer than Schary might have been able to make it flow better.

Besides Kaufman, there are lots of real historical personages portrayed in the film, such as writers Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott and actor Archie Leach, who would later become film star Cary Grant. But they come and go so fast that the effect is often more like name dropping than characterization. Some of them don't even have any lines. (Bert Convy does have a few lines as Leach, but he speaks them without a trace of a British accent.)

Despite its flaws, this picture will appeal to viewers who are really interested in the people and events depicted. Otherwise it's hard to recommend as entertainment. Though it gets considerably better, more intense, toward the end, I suspect that many people won't stay with it that long.

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

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