I don’t know how to celebrate this. Say “Oh, Norman?” Hate Meryl Streep? Get drunk with Jimmy Stewart? Adopt a pet leopard? Get married on a boat before getting hanged? Tell my children creepy stories about me and my husband the king having sex? Use an elevator with a chair in it? Marry a poor composer? Wear slacks? It’s not gonna be as cool as when she did it, especially the slacks.
I’ll just end up looking like Justin Bieber.
I’ll also self-hack this by saying that just like Katharine Hepburn, every one of my female friends consider themselves a “Jo.” I’m more of an Amy. The end!
Am I the only soulless person who doesn’t see anything between Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy? I do have faint recollections of “Pat and Mike” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and I suppose watching those again will help me back on their team. They’re always the standard, and when some godawful movie coupling like Gerry Butler and Jen Aniston sears our eyes, we all chant “Tracy and Kate both make a good date!” or something like that. The Bryn Mawr alum and the stocky shape shifter are awesome individually, as I’ve previously written. But together?
And as their characters Tess and Sam, they have nothing in common. Couples don’t have to be each other’s mirrors, but they at least need one thing. One thing. That they both write for the same newspaper isn’t enough. Go on your own floor. Sam likes a challenge like Tess – he’s probably attracted by her intelligence and wants her not to be Tess Harding nor Mrs. Sam Craig but Tess Harding-Craig. But why would he emasculate himself?
This emasculation happens in Tess’s parties, which is what I would imagine a bar in Quebec City would feel like. Everyone speaks in a different language than English, and two of the party goes that did switched to Spanish to alienate him. In the beginning of the scene, Tess speaks French and passes. Then she speaks Russian and bombs it. Meryl would have spoken Russian well. ZING.
The movie does have great cinematography. I’m not an expert on studio era rules, but there’s a lot of kissing beyond the two second rule that the Hays code recommend. To bend the rules, the movie uses a lot of shadows, angles, etc.
The movie ends, however, like a Sandra Bullock movie. It’s Hepburn’s turn to embarrass herself. She tries to make him breakfast in bed while he’s asleep but wakes him up, watching her make the same mistakes about toast and waffles and eggs. And there’s no way to convince me that a globetrotting journalist who buddies with Holocaust survivors can’t make her own coffee.
The best part about Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers sharing the screen is Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers sharing the screen with eye masks. The Bryn Mawr alum and the vaudeville girl seem to do scenes well together, sharing a lot of them in the film. That’s making me think that the drama between them off-screen was just for publicity. In their first scene, one woman is unwavering against the other’s tongue lashing. In the next few scenes Terry Randall (Hepburn) and Jean Maitland (Rogers) might as well be sisters.
Terry does take centre stage in this film, the new girl in the Footlight’s Club, a dormitory for stage actresses and dancers in Midtown New York. She ends up stealing both Maitland’s boyfriend and Kay Hamilton’s (Andrea Leeds) role in a new play. And this is why they called the movie “Stage Door” instead of “Stage Stars,” as Terry becomes the latest of replaceable actresses on the Broadway stage. Kay hints that she stole a role from another girl a year before, a passive character in Terry’s rise to fame. Had she lived in this time, Kay would be the kind of girl you would unfriend on Facebook, but you cannot help but feel sorry for her. At the end of the film, another new girl comes into the house, and we wonder if Terry’s stardom might be over soon.
That doesn’t mean that Jean’s not a treat. No new girl can stop her from practically ruling the Footlight’s Club. You can listen to her quick wit directed at some of the boarders, or watch her dance away from a stage manager twice her age. She also knows how to say the right thing quickly when she’s the house’s shoulder to cry on.
I saw this film again after reading this article from next month’s Vanity Fair, which is a depressing read by the way. Beautiful dresses, young girls, broken dreams. Both times seeing the movie I wondered if it is time for a remake – the source material is a play after all. Maybe the movie is gonna be about actresses again but it could be for models too. I read a lot about how miserable those girls could be when on their own.