Make Way for a Lady
Cast & Crew
When fifteen-year-old June Drew overhears the mother of a high school classmate tell another woman that June's widower father Christopher is leading a lonely life because of his obsessive dedication to his daughter, June decides to find her father a wife. Shortly after June makes her pledge, Valerie Broughton, a flashy pulp novelist who has moved into a nearby house, drops by the Drew home to see Christopher, who is a publisher. June is repelled by the phony, pushy writer, but after she and her best friend, Mildred Jackson, discover a copy of Valerie's bestseller, which she has inscribed to Christopher with the words "Our Story," she concludes that Christopher must be the romantically frustrated man in the novel, and Valerie, the woman. Determined to undo the wrong she has apparently done to her father, June puts aside her dislike of Valerie and works to bring the two adults together, unaware that her father is actually attracted to Eleanor Emerson, her English teacher. To clear the way to romance, June leaves with Mildred on a camping trip and encourages Christopher to socialize. While she is gone, Christopher dates Eleanor and, just before leaving on a business trip, proposes to her. When June returns, she visits Valerie, who tells her that Christopher is seriously involved with Eleanor. Distressed, June confronts Eleanor and tells her without explanation that she cannot become her stepmother. She then rushes to tell Valerie about Eleanor but is shocked to find another man, the real man from the novel, in Valerie's house. Humiliated and depressed, June collapses in her bed, while Eleanor tells Christopher that the wedding is off because of June's display of hostility. Confused by June's actions, Christopher confides in Dr. Barnes, the family physician, who advises him to postpone his marriage plans until June has adjusted. Bolstered by her father's understanding, June confesses what she has done and reunites him with Eleanor.
Frank Coghlan Jr.
Mary Jo Ellis
Make Way for A Lady -
Shirley was still riding high on the success of her first starring role, in Anne of Green Gables (1934). She had even traded in her earlier screen name, Dawn O'Day, for the name of the character that had made her a star. Though the young actress was talented in her own right, as demonstrated in films like Chatterbox (1936) and Stella Dallas (1937), RKO used this film to try to recast her in the mold of younger child actresses like Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin and Jane Withers.
This adaptation of suffragette Elizabeth Jordan's novel Daddy and I is Shirley's stab at playing "Little Miss Fix It," with the thing in need of fixing her father's life. As June Drew, Shirley decides single father Marshall is devoting so much time to her upbringing he has no life of his own. So, she sets out to find him the perfect wife. Her efforts to match dad with romantic novelist Margot Grahame, however, stand in the way of the woman he truly loves, Shirley's teacher, Gertrude Michael.
This was a big year for Shirley, who had just signed a new contract with RKO including generous pay raises for each year they kept her under contract and an out clause for the studio should she get married. That could have been an issue in 1936, when the 18-year-old actress graduated from studio high school. It was hardly a concern of hers. She told the press she didn't want to consider marriage until her current contract expired, choosing instead to focus on her acting and taking care of her mother. That resolve would not last long. A year later she would marry actor John Payne, though the studio did not exercise its option to drop the still popular young actress.
For Marshall, the film traded on his staid, British image, requiring him to look on in consternation as his daughter tried to take over his life. Although he had proven quite adept at playing a romantic scoundrel in Trouble in Paradise (1932), in which he tried to seduce female tycoon Kay Francis to steal her jewels, he was increasingly finding himself cast as understanding husbands looking on in consternation as their wives flirted with indiscretion or the reliable man the leading lady dumps to be with some more exciting male star. He had taken back an almost cheating Greta Garbo in The Painted Veil (1934), nobly lost Merle Oberon to Fredric March in The Dark Angel (1935) and waited patiently as Katharine Hepburn worked out an illicit relationship with Van Heflin in his previous RKO film that year, A Woman Rebels (1936). He would eventually get to play beleaguered father of the original Little Miss Fix It, Temple, in Kathleen (1941), MGM's attempt to resuscitate the child star's fading career.
His love interests in Make Way for a Lady were two memorable blondes, British actress Grahame and Paramount contract player Michael. Grahame had become a star in her native England, where she was seen as their answer to Jean Harlow. She was even nicknamed "The Aluminum Blonde." She was that country's highest paid star, which brought her to Hollywood, where she never achieved the same level of popularity. She only had one great role there, as Victor McLaglen's love interest in The Informer (1935). Michael was Paramount's specialist in the kind of tough blonde roles played by Gladys George at MGM and Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell at Warner Bros. Most of those were supporting characters, like the tough singer who warbles "Sweet Marijuana" then becomes the victim of Murder at the Vanities (1934), but she could class it up for leading roles in lower-budget films, as when she played society jewel thief Sophie Lang in a trio of B movies. Make Way for a Lady was the last of three films teaming her with Marshall, all in 1936. They were lovers reunited when they spy for enemy countries during World War I in Till We Meet Again and dueling spouses on the wrong side of the law in Forgotten Faces, both made for Paramount. That they never worked together again is probably a result of her career's decline as changing tastes and her own drinking led to less prestigious projects while Marshall continued in top films, albeit in character roles.
Producer: Zion Myers
Director: David Burton
Screenplay: Gertrude Purcell
Based on the novel Daddy and I by Elizabeth Jordan
Cinematography: David Abel
Score: Roy Webb
Cast: Herbert Marshall (Christopher "Chris" Drew), Anne Shirley (June Drew), Gertrude Michael (Miss Eleanor Emerson), Margot Grahame (Valerie Broughton), Taylor Holmes (George Terry), Clara Blandick (Mrs. Dell), Willie Best (William Townley)
By Frank Miller
Make Way for A Lady -
The working title for this film was Daddy and I. According to Motion Picture Herald's "In the Studio Cutting Room," Richard Carle was a cast member, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed.