|Lady for a Day|
|Directed by||Frank Capra|
|Written by||Robert Riskin|
|Based on||Madame La Gimp|
1929 story in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan
by Damon Runyon
|Produced by||Harry Cohn|
|Starring|| May Robson |
|Edited by||Gene Havlick|
|Music by||Howard Jackson|
|Color process||Black and white|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Lady for a Day is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is based on the 1929 short story "Madame La Gimp" by Damon Runyon. It was the first film for which Capra received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and the first Columbia Pictures release to be nominated for Best Picture. Capra also directed its 1961 remake, Pocketful of Miracles .
The story focuses on Apple Annie (May Robson), an aging and wretched fruit seller in New York City, whose daughter Louise (Jean Parker) has been raised in a Spanish convent since she was an infant. Louise has been led to believe her mother is a society matron named Mrs. E. Worthington Manville who lives at the Hotel Marberry. Annie discovers her charade is in danger of being uncovered when she learns Louise is sailing to New York with her fiancé Carlos (Barry Norton) and his father, Count Romero (Walter Connolly).
Among Annie's patrons are Dave the Dude (Warren William), a gambling gangster who believes her apples bring him good luck, and his henchman Happy McGuire (Ned Sparks). Annie's friends from the street ask Dave to rent her an apartment at the Marberry and, although he initially declines, he has a change of heart and arranges for her to live in the lap of luxury in a palatial residence belonging to a friend. His girlfriend, nightclub owner Missouri Martin (Glenda Farrell), helps transform Annie from a dowdy street peddler to an elegant dowager. Dave arranges for erudite pool hustler Henry D. Blake (Guy Kibbee) to pose as Annie's second husband, the dignified Judge Manville.
At the pier, an elegantly dressed Annie tearfully reunites with Louise. A group of Annie's friends from the streets are watching from a distance. One of the street people says that she can remember when Annie “always looked like that.” (We never know the details of Annie's history, but her upper-crust origins are clear.) When three society reporters become suspicious about Mrs. E. Worthington Manville, of whom they can find no public records, they are kidnapped by members of Dave's gang, and their prolonged disappearance leads the local newspapers to accuse the police department of incompetence.
A few days later, Blake – in the role of Judge Manville – announces he is planning a gala reception for Louise, Carlos, and Count Romero before they return to Spain, and he enlists Dave's guys and Missouri's dolls to pose as Annie's society friends. On the night of the reception, the police – certain Dave is responsible for the missing reporters – surround Missouri's club, where the gang has assembled for a final rehearsal. Dave calls Blake to advise him of their predicament, and Annie decides to confess everything to Count Romero. But fate – in the form of a sympathetic mayor and governor and their entourages – unexpectedly steps in and allows Annie to maintain her charade and keep Louise from learning the truth before she sails back to Spain with her husband-to-be.
Damon Runyon's short story Madame La Gimp was published in the October 1929 issue of Cosmopolitan . Columbia Pictures purchased the screen rights in September 1932, and the studio scheduled the production to begin the following May, although director Frank Capra had misgivings about the project. He reminded studio head Harry Cohn he was "spending three hundred thousand dollars on a picture in which the heroine is seventy years old," to which Cohn responded, "All I know is the thing's got a wallop. Go ahead." Robert Riskin was assigned to develop the story for the screen and wrote four drafts, submitting the last on May 6, 1933, three days before principal photography began. Aside from some minor revisions made during production, this final script was filmed intact. Riskin's version deviated from the original Runyon story primarily in that it linked its central character and a number of plot developments to the millions of Americans who were suffering as a result of the Great Depression. Runyon was pleased with the changes and later said, "Lady for a Day was no more my picture than Little Miss Marker , which, like the former picture, was almost entirely the result of the genius of the scenario writers and the director who worked on it."
Riskin had written his screenplay specifically for Robert Montgomery, but MGM refused to loan him to Columbia. He was among several performers Capra wanted but failed to secure for roles in the film. With Montgomery unavailable, Capra approached James Cagney and William Powell, but neither of their respective studios was willing to allow them to work on the project. Capra's first choices for Apple Annie and Henry D. Blake, Marie Dressler and W.C. Fields, could not be cast for the same reason. The director finally cast his film with an assortment of character actors under contract to Columbia. He also went to the Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood where he had sold newspapers as a boy and hired some of the street people who congregated there as extras who would add color to the film.One week before filming began, Capra offered the role of Apple Annie to 75-year-old May Robson, most of whose career had been spent performing on stage. In later years, Capra thought the fact she and most of the supporting players were unfamiliar to movie audiences helped the public accept them as the down-on-their-luck characters they were meant to be.
Just prior to the first preview in Hollywood in early July 1933, the film's title was changed from Madame La Gimp to Beggars' Holiday, then changed again before the film premiered at Radio City Music Hall on September 7. It went into general release on September 13 and within a very short time earned $600,000, twice its budget and a substantial sum for the period. According to the contract he had negotiated prior to making the film, Capra received 10% of the net profits. [ circular reference ]The film's success prompted the making of the 1934 film Lady by Choice , directed by David Burton and starring Carole Lombard. The only thing the two films have in common is Robson playing an alcoholic panhandler who has seen better days.
In the early 1950s, the original negative was lost while being transferred from one film lab to another for preservation work. For a period of time the only existing copy was a 35mm print owned by Capra, until he made a duplicate negative from it and donated a newly minted print to the Library of Congress. Columbia later sold the rights to the story to United Artists for $200,000, and Capra remade the film as Pocketful of Miracles with Bette Davis and Glenn Ford in 1961. The director claimed to prefer the remake to the original, although most critics and, in later years film historians and movie buffs, disagreed with his assessment.
The "Apple Annie" story transformed into Capra's Lady For A Day (and Pocketful of Miracles ) has long been considered a natural source for a stage musical and a number of prominent writers, including Jerry Herman, David Shire and Richard Maltby Jr; the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb have all worked on unfinished and unrealized adaptations.[ citation needed ]
Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times called it "a merry tale with touches of sentiment, a picture which evoked laughter and tears from an audience at the first showing." He added, "Its plausibility may be open to argument, but its entertainment value is not to be denied. It has aspects of Barrie's The Old Lady Shows Her Medals and also more than a mere suggestion of Shaw's Pygmalion , set forth, as might be anticipated, in a more popular vein."
Variety said the film "asks the spectator to believe in the improbable. It's Hans Christian Andersen stuff written by a hard-boiled journalist and transferred to the screen by trick-wise Hollywoodites. While not stinting a full measure of credit to director Frank Capra, it seems as if the spotlight of recognition ought to play rather strongly on scriptwriter Robert Riskin."
Channel 4 calls it "wonderfully improbable and charming" and, although "not a bona fide Capra classic," it is "cracking fun all the same."
Lady for a Day was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture but lost to Cavalcade . May Robson was nominated Best Actress but lost to Katharine Hepburn in Morning Glory , and Robert Riskin lost the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay to Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman for Little Women .
Will Rogers presented the Academy Award for Best Director, and when he opened the envelope he simply announced, "Come up and get it, Frank!" Capra, certain he was the winner, ran to the podium to collect his Oscar, only to discover Rogers had meant Frank Lloyd, who won for Cavalcade, instead. Possibly to downplay Capra's gaffe, Rogers then called third nominee George Cukor to join the two Franks on stage.
Image Entertainment released the film on Region 1 DVD on October 23, 2001, and on Blu-ray on March 20, 2012. Both editions include commentary by Frank Capra Jr., as well as his brief introduction to the 2001 restoration work. The Blu-ray edition additionally incorporates about four and a half minutes of lost footage, including a key scene where Dave, Blake and McGuire are planning the reception.
Alfred Damon Runyon was an American newspaperman and short-story writer.
Frank Russell Capra was an Italian-born American film director, producer and writer who became the creative force behind some of the major award-winning films of the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Italy and raised in Los Angeles from the age of five, his rags-to-riches story has led film historians such as Ian Freer to consider him the "American Dream personified".
It Happened One Night is a 1934 pre-Code American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed and co-produced by Frank Capra, in collaboration with Harry Cohn, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's thumb and falls in love with a roguish reporter. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is based on the August 1933 short story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams, which provided the shooting title. Classified as a "pre-Code" production, the film is among the last romantic comedies created before the MPPDA began rigidly enforcing the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code in July 1934. It Happened One Night was released just four months prior to that enforcement.
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a 1936 American comedy-drama romance film directed by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in her first featured role. Based on the 1935 short story "Opera Hat" by Clarence Budington Kelland, which appeared in serial form in The American Magazine, the screenplay was written by Robert Riskin in his fifth collaboration with Frank Capra.
Lost Horizon is a 1937 American adventure drama fantasy film directed by Frank Capra. The screenplay by Robert Riskin is based on the 1933 novel of the same name by James Hilton.
The following is an overview of 1933 in film, including significant events, a list of films released, and notable births and deaths.
Jean Arthur was an American Broadway and film actress whose career began in silent films in the early 1920s and lasted until the early 1950s.
Wardell Edwin Bond was an American film character actor who appeared in more than 200 films and starred in the NBC television series Wagon Train from 1957 to 1960. Among his best-remembered roles are Bert, the cop, in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Captain Clayton in John Ford's The Searchers (1956).
Gwyllyn Samuel Newton "Glenn" Ford was a Canadian-American actor who often portrayed ordinary men in unusual circumstances. Ford was most prominent during Hollywood's Golden Age as one of the biggest box-office draws of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, who had a career that lasted more than 50 years. Although he played in many genres of movies, some of his most significant roles were in the film noirs Gilda (1946) and The Big Heat (1953), and the high school angst film Blackboard Jungle (1955). However, it was for comedies or westerns which he received acting laurels, including three Golden Globe Nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy movie, winning for Pocketful of Miracles (1961). He also played a supporting role as Clark Kent's adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, in Superman (1978).
John Francis Burke was an American lyricist, successful and prolific between the 1920s and 1950s. His work is considered part of the Great American Songbook.
Pocketful of Miracles is a 1961 American comedy film starring Bette Davis and Glenn Ford, produced and directed by Frank Capra, filmed in Panavision. The screenplay, by Hal Kanter and Harry Tugend, was based on Robert Riskin's screenplay for the 1933 film Lady for a Day, which was adapted from the 1929 Damon Runyon short story "Madame La Gimp." That original 1933 film was also directed by Capra — one of two films that he originally directed and later remade, the other being Broadway Bill (1934) and its remake Riding High (1950).
Robert Riskin was an American Academy Award-winning screenwriter and playwright, best known for his collaborations with director-producer Frank Capra.
Cavalcade is a 1933 American epic pre-Code drama film directed by Frank Lloyd. The screenplay by Reginald Berkeley and Sonya Levien is based on the 1931 play of the same title by Noël Coward. The film stars Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook.
Miracles is a 1989 Hong Kong action film starring and directed by Jackie Chan. The film is set in 1930s Hong Kong and is a variation of Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933) and Pocketful of Miracles (1961), which in turn were based on "Madame La Gimp", a 1929 short story by Damon Runyon. The film is written by Edward Tang with inputs from Chan.
Broadway Bill is a 1934 American comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra and starring Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy. Screenplay by Robert Riskin and based on the short story "Strictly Confidential" by Mark Hellinger, the film is about a man's love for his thoroughbred race horse and the woman who helps him achieve his dreams. Capra disliked the final product, and in an effort to make it more to his liking, he remade the film in 1950 as Riding High. In later years, the distributor of Riding High, Paramount Pictures, acquired the rights to Broadway Bill. The film was released in the United Kingdom as Strictly Confidential.
Dorothy ("Dot") Spencer was an American film editor with 75 feature film credits from a career that spanned more than 50 years. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing on four occasions, she is remembered for editing three of director John Ford's best known movies, including Stagecoach (1939) and My Darling Clementine (1946), which film critic Roger Ebert called "Ford's greatest Western".
American Madness is a 1932 American pre-Code film directed by Frank Capra and starring Walter Huston as a New York banker embroiled in scandal.
You Can't Take It with You is a 1938 American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra and starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart and Edward Arnold. Adapted by Robert Riskin from the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the film is about a man from a family of rich snobs who becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.
Lady by Choice is a 1934 American romantic drama film released by Columbia Pictures starring Carole Lombard as a fan dancer and May Robson as a homeless drunk who is asked to pose as the dancer's mother for a publicity stunt, with unexpected consequences. Promoted as a follow-up to Frank Capra's 1933 hit Lady for a Day (1933), it resembles the earlier film only in its choice of leading lady, May Robson.
Frank P. Keller was an American film and television editor with 24 feature film credits from 1958 - 1977. He is noted for the series of films he edited with director Peter Yates, for his four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing ("Oscars"), and for the "revolutionary" car chase sequence in the film Bullitt (1968) that likely won him the editing Oscar.