Tagline – The gaiety… glamour… foolishness and fun of show business… played on the Great White Way.
Starring – Katharine Hepburn (Terry Randall), Ginger Rogers (Jean Maitland), Adolphe Menjou (Anthony Powell), Gail Patrick (Linda Shaw), Andrea Leeds (Kay Hamilton).
Released – October, 1937
Directed By – Gregory La Cava
Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures
Description – Terry Randall is a rich society woman with stars in her eyes. She hopes to break into Broadway without taking advantage of family connections.
Terry moves into the Footlights Club, a theatrical rooming house shared by many aspiring Broadway actresses. It is not an easy transition, as Terry’s sophisticated manners and attitude of superiority rub the other girls the wrong way. Especially, her roommate, dancer, Jean Maitland.
Terry’s expensive clothing, and a picture of her “grandfather,” lead Jean to believe that granddad is really Terry’s “sugar-daddy.” This would be a familiar situation as another resident of the rooming house, Linda Shaw, has the help of influential theatrical producer Anthony Powell.
Right now, Terry has only one person supportive of her independent efforts to break into Broadway and that is aging actress Catherine Luther.
After seeing Jean dance, Powell decides to dump Linda and focus his attention on Jean. He arranges for Jean, and her dance partner Annie, to headline a floor show in a nightclub that he partly owns. However, Powell is not so interested in Jean’s success as he is in his success with her.
Another of the girls, the well-liked Kay Hamilton, had great reviews for her work in a play a year earlier. But, she has not worked since. Running out of money, and suffering from disappointment and malnutrition, she is desperately seeking a role in Powell’s new play.
She arranges an audition with him, but he cancels at the last minute. This infuriates Terry who confronts Powell about his rude and inconsiderate treatment of Kay. This act of support for Kay warms the other girls to Terry.
Meanwhile, in the background, Terry’s wealthy father secretly finances Powell’s new play so long as Terry gets the lead role. This is the role that Kay had so hoped for and Powell does give it to Terry as he agreed with her father.
Opening night arrives, but the excitement and anticipation are shattered by tragedy.
NOTABLE: Stage Door received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Gregory La Cava), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Andrea Leeds), and Best Writing, Screenplay.
Katharine Hepburn had originally been considered to star in the Broadway version of Stage Door, but Broadway producer Leland Hayward gave the role to, his then girlfriend, Margaret Sullavan who he married one month after the Broadway opening. When the play was set to become a motion picture, Sullavan was expecting a baby and unavailable for the role which then went to Katharine Hepburn.
Actress Ann Miller, who played the role of Annie, was only 14 years old at the time. She wanted the role so badly that she presented a fake birth certificate and held her own dancing with the already dancing favorite Ginger Rogers.
Lucille Ball, who had a bit role in the picture, always considered Stage Door to be her big break.
Prior to this picture, Katharine Hepburn’s last four films had failed commercially, but the positive response to her work in Stage Door caused RKO to star her with the popular Cary Grant in the wonderfully enjoyable Bringing Up Baby.