A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.
Young Mary feels like a prisoner in the New York apartments of her step-father John Bussard but everything changes when her heartless guardian dies in an accident. Mary is left a fortune ... See full synopsis »
A fresh young beauty becomes an old maid waiting for her suitor to return from the Napoleonic wars. When he returns, clearly disappointed, she disguises herself as her own niece in order to test his loyalty.
Helen Jerome Eddy
Tillie the Toiler is a 1927 silent film comedy produced by Cosmopolitan Productions and released through Metro Goldwyn Mayer studios. It is based on Russ Westover's popular comic strip ... See full summary »
A newspaper man, his ignored fiancée, and his former employee, a down on his luck reporter, hatch an elaborate scheme to turn a false news story into the truth in order to prevent a high-society woman from suing for libel.
Casey and Babe are sisters who work in a department store and each year the store puts on a show. As expected, things are going wrong with every act until Casey comes out to help Babe with ... See full summary »
Terry Randall, rich society beauty, has decided to see if she can break into the Broadway theatre scene without her family connections. She goes to live in a theatrical boarding house and finds her life caught up with those of the other inmates and the ever-present disappointment that theatrical hopefuls must live with. Her smart-mouth roommate, Jean, is approached by a powerful producer for more than just a role. And Terry's father has decided to give her career the shove by backing a production for her to star in, in which she's sure to flop. But his machinations hurt more than just Terry.Written by
A rollicking play about the revolving door of fame.
Framed and shot as though a stage play which it was originally, but much changed for the film and with a stage play within the staged play, le tout ensemble in this witty farce delivers a virtual non-stop, wise-cracking, virtuoso performance. Timing is everything and in comedy, it's particularly so; and the director, Gregory La Cava who cut his teeth, in the silent era, as a director beginning in 1916 doesn't miss a beat with this one.
From a play by Edna Ferber (of Giant fame) and George S. Kaufman, the film tells the story of what happens to a group of aspiring actresses who happen to board at a place called the Floodlights Club in New York City, supposedly. Of course, there are minor players, as in all plays Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller and most of the men, the exception being Adolphe Menjou as a caricature (almost) of the Big Bad Producer of those days. The majors, Katharine Hepburn (as Terry), Ginger Rogers (Jean), Gail Patrick (Linda) and Andrea Leeds (Kay) form the core about which this story revolves.
Which, when all is said and done, is about the ascendancy of Terry as an actress and the decline of Kay as another: out with the old, in with the new, if you will. That would tend to make for a somewhat pedestrian story if it were simply that. Happily, what sets this apart from, say, the almost maudlin characterization by Hepburn in Morning Glory (1933) in a similar situation (for which, however, she did receive a Best Actress award in 1934), is, first, the scintillating dialog. Which means the viewer must really listen: it goes so quickly between characters that you'll miss the one-liners and sight gags if you take a chomp on a sandwich or sip of coffee, or whatever. So, be prepared.
What's left? Well, of course, the great acting by Hepburn, Rogers, Ball, Miller, Menjou, Arden, Patrick and Leeds, the latter getting a Best Supporting nomination for her somewhat overly tearful acting; so much so, she reminded me of Olivia de Havilland, in looks and style.
The direction, already mentioned, is in the hands of an old hand and it shows, explicitly. Add to that the camera work that included almost manic cuts up and down stairs, superb face-on tracking shots and perfect timing while up to a dozen people would mill about in the frame concurrently and with dialog. Confusing? Perhaps to some. Just concentrate on the majors.
What's more interesting for me, however, is the sub-text of this comedy. Made just before USA finally shook free of the Great Depression, as you listen, you'll hear many references to the hard times: at the Floodlights, everybody is down, but not out; rich and unscrupulous producers just want to use and abuse actresses; the women are all scraping for even the lowliest acting or dancing job at the meanest of wages; despondency and depression are endemic. Despite all of that, the women 'soldier' on, pushing themselves to their emotional and physical limits.
Women in the audience at that time must have felt the pull: don't deny your dreams of self-fulfillment, despite what chauvinistic clods of men might say and do, even powerful men. It's a stirring message, albeit idealistic, but it sets the tone for the larger section of a country that was about to engage in the world war which, in a very real sense, changed the role of women as never before. So, some may die, yes, but the show must go on...
There have been a number of introspective and self-referential films about the acting business, Morning Glory being the earliest I've seen. Others include A Star is Born (made and remade many times), All About Eve (1950) arguably the best, I think The Dresser (1983), The Player (1992), and others, but all heavy dramas. So, it's refreshing to find a gem that's prepared to treat the matter lightly, more rather than less.
A final thought: it must have been fun for the actors to act at being actors; it's even more fun to know that the director used much of the banter between the women off-camera to actually use in the film much to the playwrights' displeasure, so I understand.
Recommended for all.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this