Stage Door (1937) starring Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Eve Arden
Plot synopsis of Stage Door
In Stage Door, Terry Randall (Katherine Hepburn), rich society beauty, has decided to see if she can break into the Broadway theater 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 (Ginger Rogers), 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.
- Katharine Hepburn (Holiday) … Terry Randall. The central character in the large cast. She keeps to herself, and is initially disliked by the other girls in the boarding house. Until she stands up for Kay. She has a strong drive to become an actress, but little skill. Until Anne’s mentoring …. And a tragic death shows her how to not only weep in front of the audience, but bring them to tears.
- Ginger Rogers (The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle) … Jean Maitland. Terry’s roommate, a flippant, cynical dancer. She wrongly thinks that Terry has a “sugar daddy” financing her. And she initially looks down on Terry for that reason. Ironically, Powell gets her & Annie a job dancing at his club …. And soon after Powell & Jean are dating.
- Adolphe Menjou (Sweet Rosie O’Grady) … Anthony Powell. Theatrical producer, Linda’s “sugar daddy”. He dumps Linda for Jean.
- Gail Patrick (My Man Godfrey) … Linda Shaw. A sad figure. She desperately wants to be a great actress. But, in the meanwhile, she has producer Powell as her “sugar daddy”. He later dumps her in favor of Jean.
- Constance Collier (The Dark Corner) … Anne Luther. Terry’s self-appointed mentor and acting coach.
- Andrea Leeds (Swanee River) … Kay Hamilton. A truly tragic figure. Lovely and likable, Kay had success a year earlier, but can’t find work. She’s pinning her hopes on Powell’s next production …. But faints from malnutrition when he breaks an appointment with her. Terry jumps to the rescue …. But it’s not enough.
- Samuel S. Hinds (The Raven 1935) … Henry Sims. Terry’s wealthy father. he disapproves of her acting career.
- Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy, The Big Street) … Judith Canfield. One of the actress who doesn’t make it. She gives up the theater to marry.
- Franklin Pangborn (Reveille with Beverly) … Harcourt, Powell’s butler.
- William Corson … Bill
- Pierre Watkin … Carmichael
- Grady Sutton (Having Wonderful Time) … Butch
- Frank Reicher (The Mummy’s Ghost) … Stage Director
- Jack Carson (King of the Roaring Twenties) … Mr. Milbanks. A lumberman from Seattle who takes Jean to dinner. Hey, it’s free meal.
- Phyllis Kennedy … Hattie
- Eve Arden (Our Miss Brooks, At the Circus) … Eve. At her snarky best!
- Ann Miller (Lovely to Look At) … Annie. Jean’s dancing partner.
Editorial Review of Stage Door, courtesy of Amazon.com essential video
This one’s all about the ladies. In this absolutely terrific 1937 gem, a Manhattan boardinghouse for aspiring actresses houses an amazing roster of golden-era performers — some of whom, like their characters, were just breaking in. It’s hard to say who’s in best form here: Katharine Hepburn in blueblood mode, Ginger Rogers streetwise, Andrea Leeds suffering, Lucille Ball and Ann Miller impossibly young, and Eve Arden being, well, splendidly Eve Ardenish. The sassy comedy and sober life lessons are wonderfully mixed by the underrated director Gregory La Cava (My Man Godfrey), who captures the brashness of 30s female chatter in a much pleasanter way than the more famous The Women. Hepburn’s sublime attempts to wrestle with the line about calla lilies being in bloom will make you smile long after the movie’s over. — Robert Horton