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Park Savoy Hotel in 2008
Stage Door (1937) is a RKO film, adapted from the play by the same name, that tells the story of several would-be actresses who live together in a boarding house at 158 West 58th Street in New York Citymarker. The film stars Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Adolphe Menjou, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier, Andrea Leeds, Samuel S. Hinds and Lucille Ball. Eve Arden and Ann Miller, who became notable 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, but the play's storyline and the characters' names were almost completely changed for the movie, so much so in fact that Kaufman joked the film should be called "Screen Door".

Kaufman once lived in the 158 West 58th building (which is identified in a line in the movie). It is less than two blocks from Broadwaymarker. It is now the Park Savoy Hotel and for many years was considered a single room occupancy hotel.

The writers listened to the young actresses talking off set during rehearsals and incorporated their style of talking into the film, which was directed by Gregory La Cava.

Stage Door was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Leeds was nominated as Best Supporting Actress.

Plot

Hepburn plays Terry Randall, a young debutante who wants to be an actress. She moves into The Footlights Club, a theatrical rooming house, while trying to make it and rooms with a flippant, cynical dancer, Jean Maitland (Rogers). When producer Anthony Powell (Menjou) makes a play for Jean, Terry breaks up the situation. After her father secretly wields influence behind the scenes, Terry is given the lead in Powell's new play, which breaks the heart of Kay Hamilton (Leeds), an aspiring actress who had been unable to land any roles and who was hoping that this would be her big break. The totally inexperienced Terry is horribly bad during rehearsals, but on opening night, after the depressed Kay commits suicide, an emotional Terry gives a heartfelt performance. Terry's father, who had pulled strings to get her the role, hoping that the experience would disillusion her and that her stage career would go nowhere, has no choice but to accept the fact that she is now a star.

This is the film in which Hepburn delivers the famous lines: "The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower--suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day; now I place them here in memory of something that has died." When Terry delivers these lines, she is laughably inept, but then on opening night she delivers the same lines with emotional devastation.

Main cast and characters

Katharine Hepburn
as Terry Randall
Ginger Rogers
as Jean Maitland
Adolphe Menjou
as Anthony Powell
Gail Patrick
as Linda Shaw
Constance Collier
as Catherine Luther
Andrea Leeds
as Kay Hamilton
Samuel S. Hinds
as Henry Sims
Lucille Ball
as Judy Canfield


Other cast members



Similarities to the play

The movie has almost nothing to do with the play, except in a few character names, such as Kay Hamilton, Jean Maitland, and Terry Randall, Linda Shaw, and Judith Canfield.

In the play, Terry Randall is from a rural family whose father is a country doctor, and Jean Maitland is actually a shallow girl who becomes a movie star.

Kay Hamilton does commit suicide, but for completely different reasons and not on an opening night.

Trivia

  • Not only did the writer and La Cava listen to the actresses' jokes and small talk during rehearsals, La Cava allowed the actresses to ad lib during filming.
  • This is the film where Katherine Hepburn met Constance Collier, who became her great friend and actually did coach Hepburn. They remained great friends until Collier's death.
  • After Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds) commits suicide, there's a clip of Hamilton's grave as part of the collage of the success of the play, which was edited out on all TV showings, as well was missing from the VHS video. It was restored for the DVD and now is included in the version shown on Turner Classic Movies.
  • While most of the actresses are in their late twenties, Ann Miller was only 14 at the time.


External links

References

  1. George S. Kaufman; an intimate portrait by Howard Teichmann New York, Atheneum, 1972 ISBN 400765
  2. ADJUNCT GARAGES IRK CITY PLANNERS; Loophole in Zoning Permits All Comers to Use Space - New York Times - January 24, 1965
  • The Internet Broadway Database http://www.ibdb.com
  • Dooley, Roger From Scarface to Scarlett: American Films in the Thirties



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