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.