TBTo the Screen

"Stage Door" (1937)

Acting is a hustle. In this film, women who live in a theater arts specific boarding house name The Footlights Club were working hard to have their moment under the spotlight and show the men who are powerful producers of high profile plays their worth.

Many of the women came to New York for their “big break.” Judy (Lucille Ball) came as far as Seattle. The women always talked about their fears of going back home. To ruthless and influential producer Anthony Powell (Adolphie Menjou) women should not be actors but raise families. Terry Randall (Katherine Hepburn) walks into The Footlights Club and pays upfront for a month of rent (which was 52 dollars. Damn.) Terry is from a wealthy family and of course her father wants her to have nothing to do with show business. Terry says that she will take care of herself. The jokes between the women were so engaging, very top of the head and purely hilarious.

While the film stars Ginger Rogers, Katherine Hepburn and Lucille Ball, the captivating performance of Andrea Leeds as Kay completely showed the emotional, psychological and physical deterioration of a struggling actress. Hattie (Phyllis Kennedy) the housekeeper was a delight, even in her constant humming.

The film is endearing and funny and although the women in the boarding house are competing for the limited roles available, the house is a sisterhood. There is a lot of guilt, missed opportunities and deep sadness. The costumes were so elegant. Trench coats with exaggerated sleeves, velvet off the shoulder capes and gowns with encrusted jewels. It was amazing for each scene and told the story of each woman’s worth for their desired profession. Costumer Muriel King had a wonderful eye.