Title: Stage Door
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Gregory La Cava
George S. Kaufman
Music: Roy Webb
Cinematography: Robert De Grasse
Samuel S. Hinds
From time to time, it is categorically exhilarating to visit some legendary thespians back-catalogue, and Katharine Hepburn is always my go-to pick. STAGE DOOR, is a Black & White (female) ensemble piece centres on the everyday revelry of a band of aspiring but unemployed theatrical actresses who stay in the Footlights Club and strive for their breakthrough in the depression era of New York.
Hepburn plays Terry Randall, a young girl born with a golden spoon, is the newcomer in the club, she tries to venture into Broadway without any help from her affluent background. And the rest of the girls are no so luck, Jean (Rogers) an outspoken and rapid-speaking blonde, constantly switches bitter verbal tit for tat with Linda (Patrick), who is currently dating the producer Anthony Powell (Menjou). Also thee is Kay (Leeds), a gentle and darling doll who had a great success one year earlier, and anxiously preps for Powell’s upcoming cast of ENCHANTED APRIL since she is impecunious due to out of job for almost a year. The rest of the girls are played by some future big names such as Lucille Ball, Ann Miller and Eve Arden.
Director Gregory La Cava was much sought-after after the huge success of MY MAN GODFREY (1936, 7/10), here, under a refined script adapted from its original play, he continues to hone up his deft mastery in a satirical screwball comedy, laden with inspiring wisecracks and snappy chit-chats, Rogers certainly gives Hepburn a good run of her money with her barrage of bons mots as well as her tap dance, even though predictably she will become the object of Powell’s desire, for just one day, she doesn’t debase herself being an annoying pest. However, when a tragedy ensues, Hepburn confidently earns back her limelight with a plaintive monologue dedicated to her dear friend, the irony is redolent of the money-seeking reality, unknown to her, Terry’s triumph is a mis-carried plan of her omnipotent father (S. Hinds), in order to quench her ambition as an actress. So as a matter of fact, her road to independence is a bust, and for what it is worth, its collateral damage costs a young life. but eventually, girls are still the girls, fame doesn’t tarnish their friendship, some has to give up her dreams to a convenient marriage, and new blood is routinely arrived for the line of work.
With regard to the supporting bundle, Menjou is perfectly in his wheelhouse and his trademark moustache alone can convincingly exhibit his charming veneer and contemptible nature. Constance Collier is the typical diva who is past her prime, nagging about his old-fashioned methodology and trying to give a protective layer for her impaired dignity. But it is Leeds, who nabs an Oscar nomination as the pathos-arousing Kay, and as for Gregory, he is awarded a consecutive BEST DIRECTOR nomination (alas, it is also his last one) and although the movie is also a BEST PICTURE contender (among 10 nominees at then), it feels a shade rushed and unsatisfied compared to the sheer delight from MY MAN GODFREY, I will certainly give the latter a considerable edge.