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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

on 4 November 2009
This is another great classic (made in 1937) that belongs in the category of such memorable classics as; The Women (1939 classic, starring Norma Shearer) and Little Women (1933 Luisa May Alcott classic, starring Katharine Hepburn) that focused on the lives of women in the post-depression era.

The Footlights Club in New York City is a theatrical boarding house where young women from all over the country flood in to make it big in theater or Broadway. As they say, if you make it here (in New York City), you will make in anywhere. That was the dream of every girl residing in this theatrical villa. These girls are smart, intelligent, and beautiful, but disappointments are also common when they can't make it to the act or when greedy directors and producers take advantage of them. Sometimes rivalry could pit one girl against another and make it very bitter for everybody. This problem is solved since almost all girls are always cheerful, seek comfort in friendship, momentary quarrels are forgotten the next day and most of all their engagement in wisecracks and gossip make the crowd livelier and great to watch.

Terri Randall (Katherine Hepburn) is the only daughter of wealthy investor Henry Sims Randall (Sam Hinds), decides to become independent and comes to reside in the boarding house in search of a career in show business. Terri is fearless, very independent with a heart of gold, would like to do anything for a friend. Her roommate Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers) is beautiful, also very independent, bold, and fearless competitor in the pursuit of her career in show business. The writers have taken a softer approach to their friendship, we see some professional rivalry between them, but we also witness plenty of emotions, sisterhood, friendship, understanding, and sharing happiness and grief.

Other residents of the house includes cynical Judith (Lucille Ball), wisecracker Eve (Eve Arden), lively and always cheerful Annie (Ann Miller), snobbish and playful Linda Shah (Gail Patrick), and sweet and adorable Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds.) Miss Luther (Constance Collier), an older resident who dwells on bittersweet memories also provides elderly advices to the girls when they need them especially in acting. Anthony Powell (Adolphe Menjou) is a greedy producer who makes lecherous advances and deceitful promises at every girl he comes across, and every girl in the house knows about his serenading tricks. His butler, Harcourt (Franklin Pangborn) provides all the fun and screwball comedy you care to watch. These serenading moments are fun to watch as one girl after another rejects him.

The friendship between Terri and Jean comes to a head on collision when in a turn of events, Kay Hamilton, loses a part in the play "Enchanted April" due to interests invested by Terri's father, Henry Sims Randall. This part goes to inexperienced and somewhat erratic Terri. Neither Terri nor the producer Powell knows about this ownership except Henry Sims's representative. You would witness some hostilities among the girls against Terri but all is taken in good spirits and they still behave like real ladies. When Kay realizes that her dream of being a star is crashed and almost penniless, she commits suicide by falling from her bedroom window. Terri at the theater comes to know about this and filled with sadness and emotions, she offers a brilliant performance on the stage that thrills audience and movie critics. In a sudden change of events she announces to the audience that was not her performance but it was Kay Hamilton who performed on the stage and all the credits must go to her. This stuns the crowd especially all her friends and her best friend Jean. Part of final scenes reminds of another great classic, Sunset Blvd, a reverse of fate for the heroine, Kay Hamilton.

This is a true classic; fresh, sparkling, great girlish-dialogue infusing with humor. The rapid cross talk between the girls is filled with humor and fun to watch; this is reminiscent of quick humor seen in the movie "The Women." Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Andrea Leeds and Lucille Ball have provided spectacular performances and you must treasure this movie in your personal library.

1. The Women [1939] (REGION 2) (UK and Europe) (PAL) ~ Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, and Mary Boland IMPORT
2. Little Women [1933] [DVD]
3. Sunset Boulevard [DVD] [1950]
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on 16 November 2010
A 1930s film about a house full of wannabe actresses does not sound like the type of movie that I usually like to watch - there seems too little potential for some sort of alien attack. However, `Stage Door' is one such film starring the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. Hepburn immediately stands out in the roll call as the name to watch, but for me this is Ginger Rogers' film. She proves that she is an incredibly sassy and gifted comedienne and her timing is what lifts this film into a light hearted comedy you cannot help to enjoy. Rogers plays a down on her luck actress who is courted by a seedy older man. She instantly takes a dislike to the new girl, Hepburn, who appears far too rich to be in a boarding house.

The sparks that fly across the house are not just between the main actresses, but the whole of the impressive (mostly female) supporting cast. Many a biting and sarcastic comment is made, but all in jest. The film is fluffy in most places, but does have an ill conceived slump into melodrama that is saved by Hepburn's considerable talent as an actress. `Stage Door' could easily have been an outdated piece of mush, but instead its intelligent and vibrant cast make it a very fast paced and funny film. It makes you pine for a day when actors, both men and women, can be put in a film with biting and intelligent dialogue once more. This is recommended to any fans of black and white comedies.
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VINE VOICEon 4 July 2004
"The Philadelphia Story" brought Katharine Hepburn's film career back from the oblivion of being considered "Box Office Poison" by the nation's theater owners, but she was making a string of first-rate pictures right before that classic 1940 film beginning with 1937's "Stage Door." Her next two films were "Bringing Up Baby" and "Holiday," both with Cary Grant, and all four films have Hepburn playing a rich girl. In "Stage Door" she is Terry Randall, a debutante and wannabee actress who comes to New York City to become a Broadway star. She moves into the Footlights Club, where she joins a company of poor, starving young actresses who are all trying to make it in show businesses.
Terry ends up rooming with Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), an acid-tongued but softhearted dancer. The two trade barbs over everything from Terry's extensive wardrobe to Jean's affair with Anthony Powell (Adolphe Menjou), a Broadway producer who is working his way through an endless procession of young women. His next big production is "Enchanted April," and in order to get funding he is cornered into giving the inexperienced and patently inept Terry the starring role. The part should have gone to Kaye Hamilton (Andrea Leeds), a talented actress at the club who is broke and on the verge of starvation. When Terry gets the part Kaye is crushed.
Based on the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman, the script by Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veiler retained the basic plot line regarding Terry, Jean, and Kay, while provided some wonderful crackling dialogue amongst the girls (some of which was supposedly based on overhearing the actresses chatting during rehearsals). One of the prime attractions of the film today are the faces that would become familiar in the future, such as Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, and Ann Miller.
The show piece of the film is the play-within-the-play sequences, which was remodeled after a scene in the third act of "The Lake," the infamous Broadway play were Dorothy Parker got off the famous shot "Katharine Hepburn ran the gamut of emotions from A to B." This is where the famous line "The calla lilies are in bloom again" is uttered by Hepburn. In rehearsal she butchers the line and the scene in the most horrendous fashion. But then, in the grand tradition of opening nights in such films, Terry turns in a transcendent performance. The comparison of the two scenes is ample evidence of the range of Hepburn's acting talents at this point in her career.
Admittedly it seems strange that Terry could be so inept, but the transformation is rewarding, as is the payoff of the film. However, Hepburn's performance was apparently overshadowed by the realization that Ginger Rogers was also a pretty good comedienne as well as a great dancer. Still, it is the ensemble nature of the film, with all those wisecracking young girls trying to make it in the big bad city that is the prime attraction. "Stage Door" received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Writing (Screenplay), Best Director for Gregory La Cava, and Best Supporting Actress for Leeds.
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on 7 July 2011
I may not be 100% trustable,since I am a fan of Hepburn. But this movie is very good especially since it shows good actoring all over. Roles are well shaped and well filled. The movie has rhythm, aims at conveying an overall view of aspiring actresses, and does it through both the narrative and well carved details.
Hepburn is splendid, but other actresses are in their best, and I must say I have appreciated Rogers, too, a lot.
Thr DVD is very good quality. Do not miss it.
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on 11 April 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect of 'Stage Door'. Set in a boarding house for aspiring actresses, the snappy dialogue is fast paced and its easy to miss some of the one-liners. Like Cukor's 1939 film 'The Women', it seems that producers think that when lots of women are brought together in one place, they all talk very quickly indeed! Not having seen Katharine Hepburn in many films, I have to say that I thought she was just terrific in this. I sort of expected the brittle toughness of her early scenes but not the warmth and sly humour that came later. My favourite scene in the film is when she is summoned to the lothario Powell's penthouse - she has some great lines with Adolphe Menjou as the slimy Powell but things only improve when Ginger Rogers shows up and she morphs into a langorous sex kitten! Its all kindly meant - she wants to break up Menjou and Rogers but only because she thinks Rogers can do so much better.

Ginger Rogers is also great as hardened room-mate Jean, genuinely funny but touching too when needed. Of the other 'girls', I particularly liked Eve Arden as the wise-cracking cat lover, Constance Collier as the gracious (if slightly bitter) has-been grande-dame and Gail Patrick as the resigned older and wiser girl who takes what she can. Lucille Ball and Ann Miller appear in small roles. Andrea Leeds plays the only truly straight role and, as a result, seems overly melodramatic and out of place. These thirties comedies often introduced a thread of tragedy towards the end and I'm still not convinced by it. It does however change Hepburn's stage performance from (amusingly) terrible to ringing success. I have to say that for sheer comedy value, I much preferred Hepburn's original reading of the 'calla lilies' line! Great fun and highly recommended although there are no extras (except for a trailer) on the DVD.
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on 19 March 2014
Stage door is a classic...the cast including Lucille Ball and Katherine Hepburn as well as Ginger Rogers. Are excellent and deliver their whity lines with great aplomb.It is great fun ..the only drawback, it is too short!!
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on 22 August 2013
l love this film the stars are at their best, what a line up! the story has pathos even after seeing so many times,
it can still reduce me to tears. for an old film the reproduction is excellent
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on 15 July 2014
Another movie I absolutely loved and so wanted a copy of it for myself. I first saw this when I was a teenager and I've loved it ever since. It has a stellar cast and I recommend it highly.
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on 29 January 2015
Fantastic, I bought this as a Ginger Rogers fan so Katharine Hepburn and Lucille Ball are a bonus, a great film I love it.
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on 12 March 2015
Ginger Rogers was sublime as always.
A very good film that I enjoyed greatly.
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