Greetings from VKMfanHuey!!!

Welcome to the Gingerology blog for the 1936 RKO film, Stage Door!!!

Ginger ...

Please note the 'menu' above, which has various information regarding the film; to the right (just below the Gingerology link) there are additional links regarding the film.

Please feel free to leave a comment with any general info, links, pics, or just to say hi!

...And be sure to check out our 'main' site, Gingerology - just click on the Ginger pic to the right. There you'll find a list of ALL of Ginger Rogers' films; click on any one, and you will be directed to a 'dedicated' blog about that film (not unlike this blog).

Keep It Gingery, y'all!



Friday, May 9, 2014

MP's The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon - Stage Door review...

...first off, I am TRULY honored to be a part of The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, held by the awesome Margaret Perry!!! Go check out her super blog, where links to many posts from many KH films will be present this weekend!
...second off (...?), here's the deal: I like Katharine, REALLY... just because I'm a certifiable (in every possible sense of that word) Ginger Rogers UBER-fan (i.e., Gingerologist), doesn't mean that I can't also be a fan (at least in the 'casual' sense) of Kate, even with the supposed 'rivalry' between the two (more on that later). But now, we bring you the 'review proper'..., as for the film I'm reviewing...well, there is really only ONE Kate film that a Gingerologist like myself can objectively review, and that is, of course, the star-studded 1937 offering from RKO Radio Pictures, Stage Door, which starred Kate and Ginger, along with many more... including Eve Arden in pic below, which is a pretty cool screen cap, looking like an 'unscripted' moment... and further below, Ginger and Kate toting off Lucille Ball towards the film's end... another awesome cap.
 ...AND, to prolong the formalities even further, since there's another contributor who is submitting a 'proper' review for this superb film, THIS review will generally center around Kate and Ginger's 'interaction' throughout the film, and will probably spill over into the 'real world' scenario between Kate and Ginger...
The first thing which is noticeable in the opening scene is the 'controlled cacophony' emanating from the lounging group of aspiring young actresses in the lobby of the Footlights Club (which is basically a boarding house), which sets the tone for the film; director Greg LaCava seemed to employ this 'rapid-fire' dialog in spots throughout his films, or at least the three I am familiar with, Stage Door, Fifth Avenue Girl, and Primrose Path. It treads close to the line of 'annoyance', but upon repeated viewings of the film, you get used to it...AND, you discover a line you missed before, or finally 'get' a line...which is actually pretty cool.
Well, in this warbling din emerges Jean Maitland (Ginger Rogers), who is in a tiff with Linda Shaw (Gail Patrick), regarding stockings... after that issue has been laid to rest, the entrance of Miss Terry Randall (Katharine Hepburn) occurs...and there is no time wasted in establishing the fact that Jean and Terry will be at odds with each other... with that in mind, they just HAVE to end up being roommates, right? Right!

So, it has been established right away that Jean has 'issues' with both Linda and Terry...but from different angles. Linda is a 'social climber' (probably the nicest way to put it) who cavorts with men of worth (i.e., 'sugar daddies'), while Terry is actually striking out on her own, to prove her mettle apart from her wealthy family background (but unbeknownst to the girls in the house). But we're not here for Gail Patrick, so... howsabout Jean and Terry?

...and from the moment these two find they WILL be roommates (told ya), the look between them is classic, as shown in the two pics above...With the depositing of Terry's steamer trunks throughout the room she will share with Jean, a wave of awesome dialog between the two ensues, and leaves no doubt as to why these two 'share' the top billing for this film (although Kate is generally 'top billed', as her character is truly the 'central point' of one coming into this house and trying to break into the biz...).

...and things stay just below the 'nasty' point, but there's some work to be done here, for sure...

...BTW, there's quite a few 'snippets' of the film available on YouTube, one of which is the aforementioned scene... it's really an interesting scene, as it leaves you questioning the distinction between script and real life... as Ginger and Kate's respective backgrounds seem to shadow those of their characters...I always kinda thought it would have been interesting if you 'reversed' the roles, and had Ginger as the 'debutante', and Kate as the 'hardscrabble girl'... but it probably just wouldn't have flown...

Anyway, as the days go on, Jean and Terry do converse, and eventually become at least 'civil' to one another... but Jean thinks that the picture Terry has on her side of the bureau of her 'grandfather' is in reality Terry's 'sugar daddy', as Linda (from a few paragraphs back) has. But no, that's TRULY Terry's grandfather, who inspired her with his adventurous spirit... and we find out that she is in essence performing a 'grand experiment' to see if she can break through in the world of acting., just pour water on it, eh? A weird way to treat a mink, but...if you say so... it will be nice to know if Chester gave me a coat made of REAL varmints...

...does it have to be distilled water?

...well, I tried it, and it didn't shrink...

...but I still have my suspicions about it being real...

...cause dude kept talking about how I need to get it Scotchguarded...

Well, to keep the 'tension' between our two girls, a proverbial 'monkey wrench' is tossed into the proceedings, in the form of Big Time producer Tony Powell (played swimmingly by Adolphe Menjou), who spots Jean at a rehearsal spot and signs her on with a nightclub act...hey, it's work for Jean, which is what ALL the folks in this film are fighting for. There's lots of 'back and forth' between Tony, Terry, and Jean, and I'll leave all of those scenes for you to discover, or re-visit... there are classic moments when the girls visit Tony in his penthouse digs... Ginger plays drunk pretty convincingly considering she was a real life teetotaler... and Kate's unique 'matter-of-fact-ness' and awesomely quirky charm is also on display when she is 'sparring' with Tony.

Well, after all of this 'visitation', among other 'forces' in place, the end result is that Terry is granted the part to Tony's play over a pretty flustered Jean. The resulting rehearsal for Terry is truly funny, as Terry is oblivious to any flaws in her delivery of her lines, and questions the producer about it, to great effect. This scene also produces one of the funniest lines in the whole film (in my opinion) when, after missing her entry cue, explains to the producer that the problem is 'there are some men backstage working with ropes...please get them to stop...' ...classic! Calla lilies are the call of the day...
Jean is relegated to the fact she lost the role to Terry, but soldiers on... along with another resident of the Footlights Club, Kay Hamilton (Andrea Leeds), whose soldiering has given her battle fatigue, as she was pinning all her future on winning that role... ...and with that, I'll leave the rest for you to discover, if you haven't seen it yet...  but let's just say it gets pretty somber, to the point of bringing Terry and Jean to a pretty heavy point just prior to Terry taking the stage, but then a reconciliation after Terry notes the 'big picture' of life, as it were...
...and how cool is THIS last pic? Bottom line, if for some reason you HAVEN'T seen this film, ya need to ASAP (I think I've already said that, but...let's reiterate it, shall we?)

 ...and as a 'nerdy film geek' exercise, here's an observation regarding the billing, reflected by the various posters for this film:
...this one has Terry and Tony 'together', with Jean and Linda out in the cold (...BTW, that 'sugar daddy' Linda was working on at the beginning of the film? It was Tony...)

...while THIS poster has Terry and Jean together, with Miss Terry in a flustered and fist-clinched state...  overall it's pretty good 'advertising' to play up an apparent 'love triangle' which in reality never materializes (much to Mr. Menjou's chagrin, no doubt...)

...and THIS one is interesting, as a 're-release' of the film, sometime in the '50s... Kate and Ginger's pics are 'updated', and Lucille Ball gets a big jump in billing (although the pic looks NOTHING like her), as does Eve Arden (who was probably Our Miss Brooks by that time) as well as Ann Miller, who had hoofed her way to stardom by then as well... Gail Patrick and Andrea Leeds are relegated to 'non-billed' status...kinda sad.

NOW, as for the 'rivalry', or whatever you wish to call it, between our two girls here..., looks like they're getting on OK here, no?, before we go too far into 'buddy-buddy' land, there ARE a few accounts of 'tense moments' between Ginger and Kate, as recollected in Ginger's autobiography, "Ginger: My Story" - see the 'Lady Ainsley Incident' during the the screen tests for Mary Queen of Scots... and Kate's impromptu 'mink test' performed on Ginger... but, there are also a few 'niceties' documented between the two, most notably Kate's congratulations on Ginger winning the Best Actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle in 1940 - her note read, "Many, many congratulations. I am very jealous, but most happy for you. Affectionately, Kate." that same vein, here's an interesting piece of Gingerbilia which was on display at the GingerCentury at Boston University back in 2011 (and it's just a bit ironic that BU, not that far from Kate's old Connecticut stomping grounds, houses all that awesome Gingerbilia, no?):'s the (partial) text: "Dear Ginger - What a treat - a great big gorgeous bunch of red roses - you are sweet." (...and honestly, I can't make out the middle sentence, y'all...maybe some of you 'Hepheads' can decipher it... :-)  ) - but the last line reads "What are we doing playing in great big musicals - it's good exercise isn't it!!  - Affectionate thanks..." There were a few more of these notes between Kate and Ginger, leading one to believe they did correspond on a fair basis...

So, the final analysis regarding Kate and Ginger?
Well, it's obvious there was a 'healthy rivalry' with underlying envy and perhaps even jealousy (see Kate's note to Post-Kitty Ginger above) between the two, but I truly think each of them generally respected the other for their accomplishments, and ultimately held 'common ground' in the sense that they both were actresses in a male-dominated industry...
...on that front, Kate definitely didn't shy away from fighting for her rights from the studio, and ditto for Ginger, although her tolerance threshold was a bit higher, it appeared (just don't mention 'feathers' to her!).
They knew they were in a rare sorority together, as the top female leads for a major studio, sharing the same fights, adversities, frustrations, accomplishments, and triumphs few others could ever relate to. yeah, I think they DID get on pretty well together... best friends? Not really... but they weren't mortal enemies, either... let's just leave it at a 'guarded yet cordial coexistence' of sorts...
As to the 'Keep Calm' sign to the right, it ultimately may be a bit of a stretch in the final analysis. No matter at this point, as the final result of the collaboration for this film is sheer awesomeness, much to our benefit! Sad that RKO didn't get them in a few more films together!
Thanks again to Margaret for the chance to review this awesome film... bottom line, if for some reason you HAVEN'T seen Stage Door yet... rectify that's truly a 'must-see' for ALL film fans!!! In fact, our buds over at Turner Movie Classics (TCM) are airing Stage Door this Monday (5/12) at 8:00 A.M. Eastern, so...there's a chance to catch it!

As we say over at Gingerology, ...Keep It Gingery!!! (KIG)
...and of course, there's no debate as to Kate The Great!!!



  1. Loved this film. I appreciate the focus on their relationship. While Ginger is my favorite in the film, I think both of them suit their roles well--and it's interesting to see the kind of polite rivalry at work between them!

    1. ...thanks for the input, LW!!! It's truly a classic...a film I could watch over and over... knowing most of the lines anyway! I wish Ginger and Kate would have collaborated in something else... but Kate was on the 'outs' at RKO at this point...

      Thanks agin, LW! and hope you enjoy the blog, and Gingerology!


  2. That 50s poster is a great find - interesting how certain stars can be 'bumped' up the bill in later years! I do wish there were more Ginger and Kate films as I think they make a great on-screen pairing, irrespective of rivalries.

    1. The 'later' poster is pretty cool... just shows the 'staying power' of the film...and of course its stars, even though the names were 'reshuffled'...Ginger and Kate would have been interesting in other films...but there may have not been that many 'female lead with sidekick' films in RKO's hopper at the time... seems like Ginger did a few of those with Fox and Warners, but it seemed like RKO preferred a single female lead with 'ancillary' female support... too bad.

      Thanks for the input, Girlsdofilm!!!

  3. Congrats on your contest win! This was a fun article. ;)