Filled Under: Gail Patrick
Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers): “We started off on the wrong foot. Let’s stay that way.”
“Stage Door” (1937 – RKO), adapted from the play by the same name, tells the story of several would-be actresses who live together in a boarding house at 158 West 58th Street in New York City. The film stars Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier, Andrea Leeds, Samuel S. Hinds and Lucille Ball. Eve Arden and Ann Miller (who become famous in later films) play minor characters. The film was adapted by Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiller from the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman. The play’s storyline and the characters’ names were almost totally completely changed for the movie, so much so in fact that Kaufman joked the film should be called “Screen Door”.
“Stage Door” follows a boardinghouse full of aspiring actresses and their ambitions, dreams and disappointments. Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn), is an aspiring actress from a wealthy Midwestern family, and a new-comer at the Footlights Club, a modest New York boardinghouse, where she is greeted by a bevy of world-weary actresses and chorus girls. Terry’s haughty manner and highbrow tastes immediately alienate her from her fellow “troopers” who pride themselves on their sharp wit and down-to-earth style. Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), Terry’s roommate, is a wise-cracking dancer who resents Terry’s lavish wardrobe and judgmental attitudes. Because of her dubious liaison with theatrical producer Anthony “Tony” Powell (Adolphe Menjou), a notorious womanizer, Jean also dislikes another housemate, the sophisticated Linda Shaw (Gail Patrick). Loved by all of the women, however, is Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds), a high-strung dedicated actress who, although receiving rave notices for a play that she had starred in the previous year, has since been unable to find work. Miss Luther (Constance Collier) is an aging actress who is Terry’s only supporter and who appoints herself Terry’s mentor. Cynical Judith (Lucille Ball), feisty Eve (Eve Arden), and a young lively Annie (Ann Miller) round out the boardinghouse residents.
Other characters include Samuel S. Hinds as Hepburn’s father, Jack Carson as a Seattle lumberman, Grady Sutton as a butcher’s helper, Frank Reicher as a stage director, Franklin Pangborn as as a hiloarious butler, and Ralph Forbes in the role of Hepburn’s stage spouse.
The entire cast is excellent and the movie is fast paced with snappy dialogue and lively banter. Sharp and humorous, with heart and heartbreaking tragedy, “Stage Door” is a must see for all classic movie fans.
Stage Door was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Leeds was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.