What's better than a witty woman?

A bunch of witty women, of course! And it seems that the only requirement for being able to stay in the Footlights Club boarding house in the movie Stage Door is this: You must be a wise-cracking female. (OK, you must be an aspiring actress, as well.)

Katharine Hepburn as Terry Randall passes on both counts. She waltzes into this world of theater hopefuls with a few minor differences: she has money and she takes her craft seriously. She quickly butts heads with the girls, particularly her down-to-earth roommate Jean (Ginger Rogers). The women in the movie date, dish, and dream of landing the perfect part, with mixed results.

Less important to the movie than the overall plot is the sheer star power and the sharp writing. In addition to Hepburn and Rogers, the women at the Footlights Club include Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, and Ann Miller. (I'm almost ready to believe they really did all live like this, waiting to get their big breaks.) And here's just a sampling of some of the endless snappy dialogue:

"Evidently you're a very amusing person."

"Unfortunately I learned to speak English correctly."
"That won't do you any good here, we all talk Pig Latin." (Ginger isn't bluffing.)

"If it's not food, it's men. Can't you talk about anything else?"
"What else is there?"

"May I come in?"
"Oh, sure, I guess you'll be safe. The exterminators won't be here until tomorrow."
"How did they miss you on their last visit?"

One other very minor thing I loved about the movie: Ginger's character sleeps with a little doll! Sure, she's a hard-talking, ambitious, independent woman making it in the big city. But when it comes right down to it, she's still just a little girl with dreams.

Stage Door is one of those movies that lived for a long time on my Mostly-Seen list; that is, I had seen bits and pieces of it here and there and had a vague idea what it was all about. The sad thing about the movies populating this list of mine is that when I finally take the time to watch them from start to finish, I am almost always pleasantly surprised by the bits I'd been missing and wonder why I didn't watch the whole movie sooner. Stage Door was no exception, and I've happily moved it from my list of Mostly-Seen Movies to the Finally Watched! list.

4/5 wings


Kate Gabrielle said...

This was on my mostly-seen list for a while too! I just watched it beginning to end last year. My mom didn't know I hadn't seen the whole movie and spoiled the ending for me (darn!) but I enjoyed it anyway... I think it's one of my favorites. Ginger Rogers is just fantastic.

R. D. Finch said...

Wendy, a well-chosen subject. I saw this movie many years ago and loved it. The cast alone makes it worth watching. I saw it again not too long ago on TCM and loved it just as much. It's my favorite movie of 1937 and was nominated for a best picture Oscar. The director, Gregory LaCava ("My Man Godfrey") did get the NY Film Critics award as best director. I epecially liked the scene where Katharine Hepburn fends off the advances of the lecherous Adolph Menjou. And how about Eve Arden walking around the boarding house with that cat draped around her neck?

An interesting note is that Margaret Sullavan was originally cast in the lead (she played the part on Broadway) but was replaced by Hepburn when she got pregnant. Hepburn wasn't nominated for an Oscar but was the runner-up (to Greta Garbo for "Camille") with the NY Film Critics. This is the performance that inspired Dorothy Parker to quip, "She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B."

Does anybody remember the "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy is in Italy and thinks she's going to make a movie? She walks around dramatically declaiming, "The calla lilies are in bloom again"!

Vanessa said...

That sounds like a fun movie! I love Hepburn and Rogers but I don't think I have seen them in a movie together!
Plus I alway like films that have "film" or "acting" as their theme. It's like the audience gets to look behind the curtain.
It will definitely go on my netflix list :)

Lolita said...

Love the witty lines! I see that you too have blogspot - do you have any tip of were I can find blog wallpapers? Iäm also interested in your rating, with the movie reels. I won't do the same thing, I'm just curious of the blog functions!

Love //lolita

Wendymoon said...

Kate, I'm glad I'm not the only one with a mostly-seen movie list!

R.D., thanks for sharing the extra info, I especially enjoyed the bit about the reference in the "I Love Lucy" episode.

Vanessa, I'd love to hear your thoughts after you see the movie.

Lolita, I worked with a friend to get a customized blog design and she came up with the background. I designed the moviewings reel ratings from scratch myself. :-)

But check out my designer: right now she's doing a grand opening sale and you can enter to win a FREE blog makeover!


Raquelle said...

"And it seems that the only requirement for being able to stay in the Footlights Club boarding house in the movie Stage Door is this: You must be a wise-cracking female. " - Well-spoken my friend, well-spoken.

I love this movie, and what I love about it most is the witty dialogue.

SassyGinger said...

So this post is like over a year old but I just recently noticed that Ginger's doll is sitting on Kate's shoulder. Whats that about???

Wendymoon said...

SassyGinger, I have no idea! Maybe just one more way she's getting on Ginger's nerves? Anyway thanks for browsing the archives. :-)

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