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Forever Female

(1954 c 93')

En: 6 Ed: 5

The ex-wife of the man who produces her plays comes to realize that she can no longer play ingénue roles, and a new playwright falls in love with a young actress who is looking for a break.

         Harry Phillips (Paul Douglas) has produced a new play starring his ex-wife Beatrice Page (Ginger Rogers) that is panned. Agent Eddie Woods (James Gleason) introduces playwright Stanley Krown (William Holden) to them. Stanley frankly tells Beatrice that she lacks humility but that a writer should be arrogant.

         The next day Beatrice tells Harry how much alimony he owes her. After working in the produce market, Stanley comes in for his play, which Harry just read. Harry says he will not produce it unless Beatrice is in it. Harry says the lead can be 29 instead of 19.

         Harry and Stanley hold auditions for the mother. Brash Sally Carver (Pat Crowley) comes in and wants to try out for the daughter. At Sardi’s she joins Stanley for dinner, and he invites her to his apartment, where he has her type his revisions and gives her coffee. Beatrice drops in, and the three walk in the rain.

         Stanley goes out with Beatrice. Sally finds Harry at Sardi’s. He is flying to California to find a mother, and Beatrice helps him check his baggage. She says she called Eddie to get Sally a lead in a play on the road.

         Weeks later Sally tells Stanley that she quit her job because she missed him. After a run-through of Stanley’s play Harry gets money, but Sally tells Stanley his play was ruined. Stanley tells her to go away.

         In Beatrice’s dressing-room in Washington before the opening, Stanley and Harry kiss her. After the play Beatrice finds Stanley and apologizes for messing up his play. She urges him to work on it and says she wanted to marry him. He runs after her, and they tell the critic Willie Wolfe (Jesse White) they will marry after she tours Europe. Harry tells her that it won’t work, and they quarrel.

         Harry and Stanley drive to see his play. Sally does the first version, and Harry says it was great. Sally and Stanley dance and discuss how she has changed. She is more confident, but she gets upset and walks out.

         Harry suggests that Stanley drop in on Beatrice’s mother, and the maid Emma tells working Beatrice they are there. Beatrice tells Stanley that she hides out two months each year. She asks Stanley to go so that she can cry. Stanley leaves. Beatrice admits to Harry that she arranged for Stanley’s play. She tells Harry to produce it with Sally. Harry asks Beatrice to play the mother.

         The play is a hit, and Beatrice and Harry plan to remarry.

         This romantic comedy portrays life on Broadway while love holds together a divorced couple and draws new talent to each other. The different challenges of two generations are contrasted.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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