22 comments on “Stage Door (1937)

  1. A wonderful film, with great dialogue and plenty of drama, I enjoyed seeing several young actors early in their careers. Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, wisecracker Eve Arden, Ann Miller and Jack Carson . Not to forget to mention, Adolphe Menjou, who gives his usual wonderful performance as a producer of the show.

  2. I wrote my senior English thesis on how STAGE DOOR and DESK SET represent a set of Katharine Hepburn films in which communities of women are featured. Your review here is excellently precise – I love it! Your reading is so spot-on! I hope you enjoy reading my post about this phenomenon (http://thegreatkh.blogspot.com/2012/05/communities-of-women-how-hepburn-passes.html). I’d be really interested to hear what you think of it, having watched STAGE DOOR.
    http://thegreatkh.blogspot.com/

    • Oh yes, I’ve written many an academic paper on films which I’ve contemplated putting on my own blog. Hepburn is an interesting actress to discuss in film class because I’ve never heard so many varied opinions. We watched Bringing Up Baby in my Women in Film class and half the class loved Hepburn and some found her the worst actress in the world. Hepburn’s films are regularly critiqued for how “feminist friendly” they are (particularly her work with Spencer Tracy) but I found Stage Door to be a breath of fresh air. The film definitely shows a community of women who aren’t fighting over men and/or being petty. I’m definitely reading your post as we speak! Thanks!!

      • I probably wouldn’t argue too fiercly with those who say she wasn’t a very good actress. I don’t think “acting,” in its strictest sense, is really her strong point. But there’s a lot of other good stuff that make her very significant to the cinematic landscape. And she’s FREAKIN’ AWESOME! Who’s gonna argue with me about that?! Bring it! So wish I could have been in that class! Well, maybe grad school will give me more opportunities to battle Hepburn-haters!

  3. Good review. I happened to see this movie only a month or so ago. Even though I’ve seen other early Hepburn movies, it’s been a while. Seeing her as young as she is in this film was a reminder.

    I confess that I didn’t follow all the dialogue in the boardinghouse scenes, especially when it was in the common room with lots of them around. I recognized Ball, as well as Ann Miller, although I didn’t realize Miller was only 14 at the time. I saw Eve Arden and it took me a couple of minutes to realize she had played the principal in Grease.

    • Yeah I had to rewind a few parts when they’re all talking (subtitles came in handy as well)! That’s right I forgot to mention Ann Miller, she definitely fooled me because she didn’t look 14 at all!

  4. Yay, I’m glad you got to this. I absolutely loved it when I watched it recently too. It’s hard for me to talk too much about Hepburn’s quality as an actress because she’s of a style of acting in that era that doesn’t enthrall me, but those things worked here.

    • Wow Margaret, I might need to have you start writing my film essays for me lol. Your discussion on Stage Door is brilliant. The community of women angle is strong but I love your discussion of the male characters. In an industry where women are seen as exploitable figures, content to sell their bodies for a leg up, the women in Stage Door generally don’t allow men to manipulate them, especially not Hepburn or Rogers. Going even further and analyzing Lucille Ball and Eve Arden’s eventual careers is a great extension. Love this article!

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  6. This is such a great film – I love all the scenes in the boarding house and the way the women talk so fast that it is hard to follow everything. I’ve read that the actresses really roomed together for a while to help create the atmosphere. An odd touch is that Ginger Rogers takes a doll to bed with her, something I hadn’t noticed until I saw it mentioned in an article on the film, which helps to make her apparently tough character a bit more vulnerable. Enjoyed your piece, Kristen!

    • The book review I did on Hollywood Unknowns does mention that the women did room together which I thought made their dialogue so genuine. I didn’t notice the doll in Ginger Rogers bed…hmm might need to get a second viewing out sooner than expected. Thanks for reading!

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