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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stage Door (1937)

When a blue blooded aspiring actress (Katharine Hepburn) moves into a theatrical rooming house for struggling actresses, the other girls resent her grand manners and polished ways. In particular, a  hoofer (Ginger Rogers) who she is forced to room with. Very loosely based on the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman, as directed by Gregory La Cava, this is a fast moving witty wisecrack dripping comedy with an emotional core that comes out toward the end. Usually it's Hawks' HIS GIRL FRIDAY that gets the credit for the rat-a-tat-tat overlapping dialogue but perhaps while not as quick, there's barely time for a breath before the next piece of rapid fire dialogue. This is one of Hepburn's best performances, I'd rank it below only LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and ALICE ADAMS. Her "Calla lillies are in bloom again" speech is one of her great moments on screen. Her co-star Ginger Rogers isn't so lucky. Oh she's terrific for the majority of the film but she has a painfully unfunny drunk scene that dampens my enthusiasm. The rest of the cast is cluttered with stars and soon to be stars including Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Adolphe Menjou, Eve Arden (who wears her pet cat as a stole), Jack Carson, Gail Patrick, Constance Collier, Franklin Pangborn and in an Oscar nominated performance, Andrea Leeds as the ill fated ingenue. 

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