- Utterly perfect example of movie entertainment, 30s style 2/21/2001 12:00:00 AM by bmacv
Director Gregory LaCava apparently liked to hit the bottle and so had a spotty career, but Stage Door is his masterpiece. Not in some personal, auteurist way, but in having achieved an almost ideal example of Depression-era movie entertainment. Its venue is the Footlights Club, a theatrical boarding house near Broadway, where lamb stew and broken dreams are the nightly staples. Among the gals with stiletto tongues but hearts of gold are Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, Gail Patrick and formidable Constance Collier ("Could you see an older woman in the part?"). But the movie centers on the rivalry between roommates Katherine Hepburn, as a spoiled rich kid who tries acting as a lark, and Ginger Rogers, as a plucky thespian waiting for her break. Believe it or no, those diametrical opposites (aristocratic, ethereal Kate and tough, pragmatic Ginger) work like a dream together. The script negotiates a delicate path between pathos and bathos, and somehow keeps its balance, even when one of the troupers loses her grip on reality and...Well, enough said. Best of all: this is the movie in which Hepburn gets to elocute: "The calla lilies are in bloom again...." Sheerest heaven.
- You're Invited To Eat Lamb Stew With The Girls At The Footlights Club Tonight 4/6/2000 12:00:00 AM by Ron Oliver
New York City. The Footlights Club is a theatrical boarding house where young women wait for the chance to make it big on Broadway. To deal with the disappointment & bitterness that can set in, they engage in wisecracks & gossip. Fiercely loyal to their friends, they can be wickedly spiteful to those that cross them. Always before them is their dream - to capture elusive success at the STAGE DOOR.
A wonderful film, fresh & sparkling, with great dialogue infusing its wit & drama. The rapid-fire cross talk is still a real treat for viewers - as is the chance to see several fine young actresses early in their careers.
The entire cast is excellent. Brash Katharine Hepburn is the new girl who quickly meets the `regulars': feisty Ginger Rogers, cynical Lucille Ball, wisecracker Eve Arden, lively Ann Miller, snobbish Gail Patrick & sweet Andrea Leeds. While the young ladies certainly get most of the attention, be sure not to overlook Constance Collier, terrific as Miss Luther the has-been actress. Growing old on bittersweet memories, she is a constant reminder to the others what, even with success, they still might become.
Adolphe Menjou gives his usual vivid performance as an immoral producer, while Samuel S. Hinds is good as Hepburn's father. Film mavens will enjoy spotting several familiar faces in uncredited roles: Jack Carson as a Seattle lumberman; Grady Sutton as a butcher's helper; Frank Reicher as a stage director; Franklin Pangborn, hilarious as a butler; and Ralph Forbes in the role of Hepburn's stage spouse.
- The calla lilies are blooming... 2/9/2002 12:00:00 AM by gaityr
Watch this movie, *any way* you can.
Seriously, you won't be disappointed.
It's a brilliant way to spend a couple of hours: where else would you get an all-star cast that would make your jaw drop today (Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, Ann Miller etc. etc.), and a clever, witty script played to the hilt by the astounding cast?
The story is fairly simple: Terry Randall (Hepburn) moves into the Footlights Club to begin her career as an actress. Viewed as an odd cookie by the rest of the girls, her room-mate Jean (Rogers) especially, she starts to win them over until she wins the part belonging to Kaye (Andrea Leeds). Not wins, so much as given. It takes a tragedy to turn Terry into the actress she could be, and the friend she eventually becomes as she remains in the Footlights Club.
This film benefits from a truly amazing cast: Hepburn is glorious as Terry, an independent, in-your-face girl from the upper class, unsure why she's not liked by her new friends as she blithely (and unknowingly) talks down to them; but fiercely loyal and protective of them nonetheless. Witness Terry's outburst in Powell's office, or the way she puts Jean, much the worse for wine, to bed. Hepburn is truly great in her emotional scenes, when she is called to perform on stage despite the revelation she's received just beforehand.
Hepburn alone doesn't make the movie though (as she eventually does in lesser vehicles with less worthy co-stars). Ginger Rogers as Jean is a breath of fresh air. She's quirky, charming, and just generally appealing in her role, playing Jean with a wonderful confidence that bodes well for the character. You warm to Jean immediately. I love Rogers' drunken scenes with Menjou--ditzy yet sweet.
The supporting cast is fantastic as well, Lucille Ball never missing a chance to steal a scene or make a quip, Eve Arden fast on her heels. Andrea Leeds overacts a little, I think, but is generally good in her demanding role as Kaye--she does an excellent job on the staircase towards the end of the movie.
Absolutely A+. Everything Hollywood should be, was, and now isn't.
- A 70 Year Old Calla Lillie In Bloom 12/21/2007 12:00:00 AM by littlemartinarocena
In fact this film version of a stage play by Edna Ferber and George S Kaufman, directed by Gregory La Cava is 70 years old and although it may show a wrinkle here or there - like having Adolph Menjou as the romantic lead - the youthful energy in the acting and dialog has surfed the waves of time unscathed. The bunch of girls populating the Footlights lodgings is a smashing crowd. Katharine Hepburn, brisk and Hepburnish already to the hilt. Ginger Rogers drinks, scratches and dances a duet with Ann Miller. Eve Arden, as usual, delivers the best one liners and Lucille Ball seems ready for a startling career. Andrea Leeds got an Oscar nomination and Constance Collier plays an over the hill actress that becomes Hepburn's minder, just like in real life. The film moves at an incredible speed and I defy you not to tear up when Hepburn makes her entrance with the Calla Lillies in bloom.
- One of the best examples of Hollywood's Golden Age 3/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by zetes
I don't quite know how to put my passion for this film into words. It's something I never expected. I taped it off of television because I've been on a Ginger Rogers kick lately (I think I'm in love with her), and very luckily experienced something of enormous quality.
There is not a regular plot. Unlike most classical cinema, the goal towards which the film is striving is quite tenuous. Basically, the goal is for Katherine Hepburn to get a part in a play and give a good performance, but it is never stressed. Instead, what we get is more of an ensemble piece. There are characters who are more central than others, but we get to know well a great number of characters. And we live with them, experience their dreams, hardships, and successes, falling more and more deeply in love with them every minute, caring about them as we would dear friends or siblings.
It is most often referred to as a comedy, and the dialogue tends to be hilarious (Ginger Rogers is in full form here, wisecracking at the speed of light), but the film's drama is very affecting, too. This film's ending is so beautiful, and like all great films, we're reluctant to say goodbye to the characters. Fortunately, since I have it on tape, I can visit the boarding house any time I want. Unfortunately, since this film is neither on VHS nor DVD, you probably cannot. Watch for it on AMC or TCM or other stations that play classic films. You will not be disappointed. 10/10