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Stage Struck

(1936 b 92')

En: 5 Ed: 4

A director clashes with a star backing her own show while falling in love with a newcomer in this trimmed-down Busby Berkeley musical.

George Randall (Dick Powell) directs chorus girls and is assisted by Sid (Frank McHugh), who fills in for a missing actress. Wayne (Hobart Cavanaugh) tells George he is broke, and they must use Peggy Revere (Joan Blondell) though George says she has no talent. Peggy arrives with her dogs. When George refers to her having shot her husband, she gets him fired. George meets Ruth Williams (Jeanne Madden). A quartet dressed as the Mexican Serenaders (Yacht Club Boys) sings about how the government takes your money with taxes. George finds his sister at his mother's and is frustrated by women. He goes out for a drink, and Fred Harris (Warren William) gets him to sign a contract. George learns that Peggy is the star, and she tears up his contract. Sid hires Ruth. George and Ruth go to the aquarium. A guide tells of evolution, and George sings with Ruth "What Love Can Do." Harris tells Peggy that she needs psychology, because she loves George. Harris shows George his contract. The Mexican Serenaders bring a piano to Harris's office and sing that he needs them in his show with "The Body Beautiful" and acrobatics.

In the theater George hires all the girls but sends Ruth to a flower shop. Harris tells George he is turning Peggy's hatred to love and asks his help. Peggy comes in and is warm to George. Gilmore Frost (Craig Reynolds) tells Harris that he doesn't like his part, but Harris offers him $125. Ruth asks Gilmore for a job dancing, and he gets George to hire her, making George cool to Ruth. They rehearse the show. George sings "In Your Own Quiet Way," and Peggy soaks it up. Peggy invites George to her apartment but makes him hide under her bed before Gilmore comes in and searches for him. The company takes a train, and George can't have dinner with Ruth because of Peggy. The show gets bad reviews. Gilmore catches George with Peggy's arms around him and hits him. Peggy complains that Gilmore kicked her, and Harris gets her put in the hospital. George and Harris put Ruth in Peggy's role. Critics like Ruth in the dress rehearsal. Police arrest Gilmore for assault and battery; but Harris persuades them to let him perform. Peggy fires Harris and insists on going on. Peggy shoots Gilmore, and police take them away. George and Ruth will perform together, and he kisses her.

Ironically this musical is marred by the off performances by the female leads. Although Blondell is usually good, she over-acts in this presumptuous role. Madden's acting was poor, and her career soon faded. Thus the reality behind the film mirrors the difficulty of show business in this musical comedy that also satirizes Freudian psychology.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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