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The Essentials - August 2011
Remind Me
suppliedTitle,Stage Door

The Critics' Corner: STAGE DOOR

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Awards & Honors

Stage Door won Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Supporting Actress (Andrea Leeds)

The New York Film Critics Circle Award to Gregory La Cava as Best Director

In its November 1937 issue, Photoplay magazine rated Stage Door one of the ten best pictures of the month and included both Katharine Hepburn and Andrea Leeds in its list of the month's best performances, adding "Amazingly, here is a magnificently entertaining picture without a love story."

Critic Reviews: STAGE DOOR

"Katharine Hepburn has never been better cast, not even excepting Morning Glory [1933, her first Oscar®]. As a daughter of wealthy parents, trying acting as a pastime, Miss Hepburn plays with true sincerity. Audiences will see and like a new Ginger Rogers.... It is excellently done." - Hollywood Reporter, September 8, 1937

"It is funny in spots, emotionally effective occasionally, and generally brisk and entertaining. ... [Andrea Leeds'] performance is one customers will talk about. ... [Ginger Rogers] clearly demonstrates her ability to handle comedy with the same agility she handles her feet. In a slick role she is surefire." - Flin., Variety, September 14, 1937

"The twists and turns of the narrative are sensibly motivated, the direction of Gregory La Cava has given it zest and pace and photographic eloquence, and the performances are amazingly good.... Miss Hepburn and Miss Rogers, in particular, seemed to be acting so far above their usual heads that, frankly, we hardly recognized them." - Frank S. Nugent, New York Times, October 8, 1937

"The film is more logical than the play and it also has more vitality." - Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times, October 1937

"In acting, directing, writing, it represents the finest flower of movie craftsmanship." - Bland Johaneson, New York Daily Mirror, October 1937

"Cinemagoers welcomed the return of Katharine Hepburn from farthingales and tippets, were agreeably surprised at Ginger Rogers' versatility. But the actress who nearly stole the show was Andrea Leeds." - Time, October 18, 1937

"Miss Ginger doesn't dance, or at least not more than a step or two, but never has she given a prettier comedy performance. As a little blonde snippet with her way to make in the world, she is always easy and delightful. I must say her lightness in the role is made easier for her by the contrasting presence of Katharine Hepburn, for alongside the handsome Hepburn, most girls seem mere moths." - John Mosher, The New Yorker, October 1937

"It proves that Miss Rogers is a talented comedienne and that Miss Hepburn really is, as her early pictures indicated, potentially the screen's greatest actress." - Life magazine, October 1937

"When you think of Miss Rogers' former song and dance appearances, it seems as though this is the first chance she has had to be something more than a camera object and stand forth in her own right, pert and charming and just plain nice, her personality flexible in the actor's expression." - New Republic, 1937

"One of the great sassy-women comedy-dramas of the '30s...a bitchy, pacy slice of sociology. ... The casting is perfect. ... Individuals and darker moments apart, however, it's the crackling ensemble pieces that remain in the memory, expertly timed by La Cava's civilised, generous direction, and located in lovingly authentic sets beautifully shot by Robert de Grasse." - Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide, 2000

"One of the flashiest, most entertaining comedies of the 30s, even with its tremolos and touches of heartbreak. ...Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers are terrific wisecracking partners. ... The cast includes the supremely regal (and supremely funny) Constance Collier as an aged actress who does coaching...." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Company, 1984)

"What keeps the film from dating is the camaraderie exhibited by all the would-be actresses. Their bond--in a film in which no one is serious about a man--is based on their common need to cover up their fear that they'll never get a break." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986)

"Excitingly feminist, marked by the Depression, and obsessed by the sound of women talking, yelping, singing and generally whooping it up, Stage Door, though well-loved by many, has never garnered a big reputation, probably because La Cava himself has been overlooked in studies of major directors of the period. - Dan Callahan, Slant magazine, March 2, 2004

by Rob Nixon


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