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Lady for a Day

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Lady for a Day (1933) starring Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell, Ned Sparks, directed by Frank Capra
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Lady for a Day (1933) starring Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell, Ned Sparks, directed by Frank Capra

Synopsis of Lady for a Day

A Cinderella fairy tale set in the early 1930s, Lady for a Day is a delightfully charming mix of drama and comedy that earned four Academy Award nominations and propelled Frank Capra to the top ranks of popular filmmakers. Based on a Damon Runyon short story, Lady for a Day tells the tale of Apple Annie, a cantankerous New York City fruit peddler who has been pretending to be a high-society matron in letters to her daughter. When her daughter comes to visit with her aristocratic fiance, Apple Annie enlists her seedy gangster friends, who hilariously transform her into the grandest of dames!


Lady for a Day is both hilariously funny and sweet at the same time. The basic story has a street person, Apple Annie, wanting to pretend to be a high society lady. Her illegitimate daughter knows Annie only through her letters. And thinks she’s a fine, society lady. And now, she’s engaged to European royalty! Yay! But, she’s bringing them to America to meet her mother before the wedding! Oh, no …

Dave the Dude, with Shakespeare and Happy, in “Lady for a Day

The good news is, Annie has a benefactor in a criminal named Dave the Dude. He’s willing to help her put on the charade, complete with a false husband. Played hilariously, and sweetly, by Guy Kibbee. But then, they need to do something when Dave’s placed under arrest! And the party guests need to start arriving, to impress the European royalty. The governor?

You’ll need to watch it for yourself — which I highly recommend!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cast of characters

  • Warren William (The Case of the Lucky Legs) … Dave the Dude. A superstitious gangster, who considers Apple Annie his good luck charm. And so, he decides to help her impersonate a high-class lady. All in order to fool her daughter, and the fiancée’s family.
  • May Robson (Bringing Up Baby) … Apple Annie. What we would now call a bag lady, selling apples to survive. She saves every penny she can scrape together, so her daughter can be raised in high society in Europe. She’s been lying to her for years, pretending to be a high society lady in New York. But now that her daughter’s coming to visit — with her fiancée’s family — it will all be exposed. Unless Dave the Dude can help?
  • Guy Kibbee (Joy of Living) … Judge Blake. A disgraced former judge. With his personality — and vocabulary — he’s the perfect person to be Apple Annie’s pretend husband.
  • Glenda Farrell (Little Caesar) … Missouri Martin. Dave’s girlfriend, who runs a speakeasy nightclub. She helps with Annie’s masquerade, including a makeover.
  • Ned Sparks (Stage Door Canteen) … Happy. Dave’s right-hand man. Hilariously grumpy throughout the entire movie.
  • Walter Connolly (It Happened One Night) … Count Romero. The European aristocrat, his son is engaged to Annie’s daughter.
  • Jean Parker (Dead Man’s Eyes) … Louise
  • Nat Pendleton (On Borrowed Time) … Shakespeare. One of Dave’s men. Not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. A funny performance.
  • Barry Norton … Carlos
  • Halliwell Hobbes (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1931) … Butler
  • Hobart Bosworth … Governor
  • Robert Emmett O’Connor (A Night at the Opera) … Inspector. Who knows that Dave is up to something. Even if he can’t prove it.

Editorial review of Lady for a Day courtesy of

Based on a story by Damon Runyon, this Frank Capra film was nominated for several Oscars® after it was released in 1933 (it was remade by Capra as Pocketful of Miracles in 1961). A tenderhearted Depression-era comedy, it tells the story of Apple Annie (May Robson), a panhandling street vendor who has kept her real identity hidden from a daughter being reared in Europe. When the grown-up daughter comes to New York for a visit, Annie turns to gambler Dave the Dude (Warren William) for help. He transforms her–temporarily–into a high-society grande dame, but not without complications. The film is nearly stolen by Guy Kibbee, as a judge posing as Annie’s husband, but Warren William, a John Barrymore lookalike, and dour Ned Sparks get laughs too–Marshall Fine

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