Cast & Crew
C. Aubrey Smith
Newly arrived in New York from Vermont, aspiring actress Eva Lovelace makes her way to the waiting room of Broadway manager Louis Easton and introduces herself to actor Robert Harley Hedges. Taken with Hedges' British accent, the wide-eyed, babbling Eva explains her ambition to become a great actress and begs him to tutor her in elocution. As Eva and Robert talk, Louis Easton and playwright Joseph Sheridan discuss casting for Joseph's new comedy, Blue Skies , which Easton is producing. Because she is under contract with him, Easton wants tempermental star Rita Vernon in the lead, and she consents on condition that she be able to choose her next part. Consequently, when Rita hears that Sheridan is adapting a Ferenc Molnár novel, she insists on reading it, even though Sheridan feels strongly that the story is too serious for her talents. After Rita leaves Louis' office, Robert introduces Eva to Louis and Joseph. Although Joseph finds Eva charming and provocative, Louis describes her as "nuts" and dismisses her. Later, on opening night of Blue Skies , Robert takes a starving, broke Eva to a party at Louis' penthouse. Eva, who had been cast by Joseph in a bit role in Blue Skies but had left the show before its premiere, drinks champagne and quickly becomes intoxicated. Made bold by drink, Eva flirts openly with Louis and performs two scenes from Shakespeare for him. While her performance moves Joseph, Louis remains dubious and distant. The next morning, Joseph returns to Louis' and is stunned when Louis reveals that he slept with Eva but now wants to get rid of her. After Joseph confesses to Louis that he loves Eva, she leaves, unaware of either man's feelings toward her. Several months later, Joseph's new show, which stars Rita, is about to open. Minutes before curtain, however, Rita confronts Louis with excessive contract demands, and Joseph insists that Eva, who has been cast in a bit part, take over the lead. After Eva gives a show-saving performance, Louis visits her in her dressing room, and although he pledges to guide her career, he refuses her love. Joseph then confesses his love but is gently rejected by Eva. Alone with her maid, a fallen Broadway star whose career Robert compares to a "morning glory," a flower that blossoms bright but quickly fades, Eva reveals her sudden loneliness. As she gazes into her dressing room mirror, Eva nonetheless vows not to be afraid of turning into a morning glory herself.
C. Aubrey Smith
John Peter Richmond
Pandro S. Berman
Merian C. Cooper
Howard J. Green
Hugh Mcdowell Jr.
Van Nest Polglase
C. J. White
Based on an unproduced play by playwright Zoe Akins (who had also scripted Christopher Strong), Morning Glory is the story of a stage-struck girl from a small New England town who moves to New York, confident that she'll find success on the stage. With the help of an elderly actor (C. Aubrey Smith) who takes a benevolent interest in her, Eva makes the right connections and catches the eye of a sophisticated theatrical manager, played by Adolphe Menjou. She also meets a young playwright, (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), and hits some bumps on her road to theatrical glory and romance.
After her success in her first two films, Hepburn's agent Leland Hayward had negotiated a new contract for her with RKO, giving her an unprecedented percentage of the gross, approval of co-stars and director, and time off between films for theater work. At that time, it was unheard of for a young actress to have so much control over her career, but Hayward was an extraordinary agent, and Hepburn, clearly, was on her way to becoming an extraordinary star.
Although Hepburn disliked Zoe Akins personally and had not been happy with Akins' script for Christopher Strong, she was eager to do Morning Glory as her next film. One day while waiting to meet with producer Pandro Berman in his office, she saw the script for Morning Glory on his desk and began reading it. She was instantly enthusiastic, telling Berman, "That's the most wonderful script ever written for anybody." Berman told her it was intended for Constance Bennett, but Hepburn demanded it for herself. Akins reportedly had modeled the character of Eva on Tallulah Bankhead (whom Hepburn also disliked), but Hepburn demanded changes so that the character resembled her.
Director Lowell Sherman understood actors; he had been a leading theater and film actor himself before turning to directing in the early 1930s. (One of his best performances was as the alcoholic director in 1932's What Price Hollywood?, his final film as an actor.) Sherman rehearsed Morning Glory like a play, and shot it in continuity in 18 days, skillfully developing the actors' characterizations. It paid off; not only was Hepburn's performance superb, the rest of the cast was excellent also, particularly Smith as Eva's elderly mentor, and Fairbanks, giving a complex portrayal of the playwright, attracted to Eva but wary of her ambition, and ambitious for his own career. Fairbanks evidently had similar mixed emotions about Hepburn. He tried to date her, but she wasn't interested. In fact, she was secretly involved with Leland Hayward, although both were married to others at the time. Finally, Hepburn agreed to go out with Fairbanks, but she cut the date short, complaining of a headache. When he took her home, Fairbanks watched as she went inside, then immediately came out again, getting into a car with Hayward.
Morning Glory's star-is-born plot was serviceable but hackneyed, and some of the dialogue was overripe, but Hepburn was irresistible, and the film was a big success. Critics heaped praise on Hepburn's performance. "Miss Hepburn is supremely good, vivid, forthright, zestful, and capable beyond praise," wrote William Boehnel in the New York World-Telegram. Regina Crewe of the New York American was one of several who noted Hepburn's development as an actress: "More an actress, less a 'personality,' Katharine Hepburn gives reason for rejoicing among the faithful, and cause for defection from the ranks of the skeptics, with a sure, skillful, sound performance." And some, like the London Times critic, found her better than the material: "Miss Hepburn admirably mingles intellectual austerity with physical gaucherie...her grip never falters, but those who most admire the perfection of her technique must have wished she could, for a few minutes, be free of the depressing limitation of a second-rate story." Forty years later, Hepburn evaluated her own performance: "I should have stopped then. I haven't grown since."
Director: Lowell Sherman
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay: Howard J. Green, based on a play by Zoe Akins
Cinematography: Bert Glennon
Editor: William Hamilton
Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Max Steiner
Principal Cast: Katharine Hepburn (Eva Lovelace), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Joseph Sheridan), Adolphe Menjou (Louis Easton), Mary Duncan (Rita Vernon), C. Aubrey Smith (Robert Harley Hedges), Don Alvarado (Pepe Velez, the Gigolo).
BW-74m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
My! You're gaining weight.- Gwendolyn Hall
Yes. I'll soon be your size, my dear!- Rita Vernon
You're the best young actress in America.- Charlie Van Duesen
I know that.- Rita Vernon
Youth has its hour of glory... but too often it's only a morning glory, the flower that fades before the sun is very high.- Robert Harley Hedges
Filmed in scripted sequence.
Zoë Akins' play was unproduced when it was bought by RKO, and had only a limited run in 1939. According to an RKO script report, the character of "Joseph Sheridan" is Jewish in Akin's play. The film, however, makes no mention of Sheridan's religious affiliation. Production files indicate that the actors rehearsed for one week. Modern sources note that director Lowell Sherman got RKO executives to agree to give him the one-week rehearsal period with the actors, in exchange for the brief eighteen-day shooting schedule. According to production files, a dream sequence in which Katharine Hepburn and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. played "Romeo" and "Juliet" in Shakespeare's famous balcony scene was shot for the film. Other scenes between Shakespeare's lovers were also shot, but none of the footage was used in the final film. In a modern interview, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. claims that only stills of these cut scenes now exist. Studio records indicate that Hepburn was paid $2,500 per week for her work on the picture. An ad for the film boasted that Eastman "supersensitive panchromatic negative" film stock was used in the production. Opening day figures at Radio City Music Hall were, according to the same ad, 22,668 in attendance, and $14,677 in receipts. After six days, attendance was up to 131,000 and $91,000 had been collected in receipts. Hepburn won her first Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. As with her other nominations, Hepburn did not attend the Academy ceremonies.
Modern sources claim that, unlike most feature films, Morning Glory was shot in the same sequence as the script. Modern sources conflict concerning Hepburn's introduction to the script. One source states that Hepburn found the screenplay on producer Pandro Berman's desk and, after reading a bit, demanded to be cast in the lead, even though Berman had planned to cast Constance Bennett in the part. Another source claims that Berman gave Akins' play to Hepburn's best friend, Laura Harding, to read with Hepburn already in mind. Harding then gave Hepburn the script with her strong recommendation. Akins, however, had modeled the Eva Lovelace role on her close friend, Tallulah Bankhead. When Hepburn was cast instead of Bankhead, she insisted that the play be re-written for her, with the sarcastic aspects of Eva's character excised. One modern source speculates that Akins worked with screenwriter Howard J. Green on the re-write. In one modern interview, Hepburn says that she used Ruth Gordon as a model for some of the film's scenes. Modern sources credit Tommy Atkins as assistant director. In 1957, Sidney Lumet directed Susan Strasberg, Henry Fonda and Christopher Plummer in another RKO version of Akins' play.
Released in United States 1933
Re-released in United States on Video February 21, 1995
Released in United States 1933
Re-released in United States on Video February 21, 1995