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Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra. The screenplay by Robert Riskin
Robert Riskin
is based on the short story "Madame La Gimp" by Damon Runyon. It was the first film for which Capra received an Academy Award
Academy Award
nomination for Best Director and the first Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
release to be nominated for Best Picture.

Contents

1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Production 4 Critical reception 5 Awards and nominations 6 Home media 7 References 8 External links

Plot[edit] 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 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 pool hustler Henry D. Blake (Guy Kibbee) to pose as Annie's husband, the dignified Judge Manville. At the pier, Annie tearfully reunites with Louise. 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 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. Cast[edit]

Dave the Dude (Warren William) and Apple Annie (May Robson) in Lady for a Day

May Robson
May Robson
as Apple Annie Warren William
Warren William
as Dave the Dude Guy Kibbee
Guy Kibbee
as Henry D. Blake Glenda Farrell
Glenda Farrell
as Missouri Martin Ned Sparks as Happy McGuire Jean Parker
Jean Parker
as Louise Barry Norton
Barry Norton
as Carlos Walter Connolly
Walter Connolly
as Count Romero Nat Pendleton
Nat Pendleton
as Shakespeare Halliwell Hobbes
Halliwell Hobbes
as Rodney Kent's Butler Hobart Bosworth
Hobart Bosworth
as Governor Robert Emmett O'Connor
Robert Emmett O'Connor
as Inspector Samuel S. Hinds
Samuel S. Hinds
as Mayor [uncredited] Wallis Clark
Wallis Clark
as Police Commissioner [uncredited]

Production[edit] Damon Runyon's short story Madame La Gimp was published in the October 1929 issue of Cosmopolitan. Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
purchased the screen rights in September 1932, and the studio scheduled the production to begin the following May, although director Frank Capra
Frank Capra
had misgivings about the project. He reminded studio head Harry Cohn
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
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 millions of Americans who were suffering from an economic crisis as a result of the onset 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."[1] 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 Montogomery unavailable, Capra approached James Cagney
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
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
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.[1] 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.[1] 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
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.[1] The film's success prompted the 1934 sequel Lady by Choice, directed by David Burton and starring Carole Lombard. 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
United Artists
for $200,000, and Capra remade the film as Pocketful of Miracles
Pocketful of Miracles
with Bette Davis
Bette Davis
and Glenn Ford
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.[1] 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
David Shire
and Richard Maltby Jr; the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb
Fred Ebb
have all worked on unfinished and unrealized adaptations.[citation needed] Critical reception[edit] Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times
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."[2] Variety said the film "asks the spectator to believe in the improbable. It's Hans Christian Andersen
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."[3] Channel 4
Channel 4
calls it "wonderfully improbable and charming" and, although "not a bona fide Capra classic," it is "cracking fun all the same."[4] Awards and nominations[edit] Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
was nominated for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Film but lost to Cavalcade. May Robson
May Robson
was nominated Best Actress but lost to Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
in Morning Glory, and Robert Riskin
Robert Riskin
lost the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay to Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman for Little Women. Will Rogers
Will Rogers
presented the Academy Award
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
George Cukor
to join the two Franks on stage.[1] Home media[edit] Image Entertainment
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.[5] References[edit]

^ a b c d e f McBride, Joseph, Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. New York: Simon & Schuster 1992. ISBN 0-671-73494-6, pp. 288-292, 294-296, 298-302, 309-310 ^ Hall, Mourdant (September 8, 1933). "Movie review—Lady for a Day (1933): May Robson
May Robson
as a white-haired Cinderella in the new film at the Radio City Music Hall", New York Times, nytimes.com, accessed March 21, 2012. ^ "Film review—Lady for a Day", Variety, December 31, 1932, variety.com, accessed March 21, 2012. ^ Channel 4
Channel 4
review ^ Reuben, Michael (March 2, 2012). " Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
Blu-ray review: fairy tales can come true and classics can be rescued", blu-ray.com, accessed March 21, 2012.

External links[edit]

Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
on IMDb Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
at the TCM Movie Database Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
at AllMovie Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
at the American Film Institute Catalog Lady for a Day
Lady for a Day
on Lux Radio Theater: May 1, 1939

v t e

Frank Capra

Filmography

Feature films directed

Fultah Fisher's Boarding House The Strong Man Long Pants For the Love of Mike That Certain Thing So This Is Love? The Matinee Idol The Way of the Strong Say It with Sables The Power of the Press Submarine The Younger Generation The Donovan Affair Flight Ladies of Leisure Rain or Shine Dirigible The Miracle Woman Platinum Blonde Forbidden American Madness The Bitter Tea of General Yen Lady for a Day It Happened One Night Broadway Bill Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Lost Horizon You Can't Take It with You Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Meet John Doe Arsenic and Old Lace It's a Wonderful Life State of the Union Riding High Here Comes the Groom A Hole in the Head Pocketful of Miracles

Why We Fight
Why We Fight
series

Prelude to War The Nazis Strike Divide and Conquer The Battle of Britain The Battle of Russia The Battle of China War Comes to America

Other works

Know Your Enemy: Japan Here Is Germany Tunisian Victory Your Job in Germany Two Down and One to Go The Negro Soldier The Army–Navy Screen Magazine The Fallbrook Story The Bell Laboratory Science Series

Our Mr. Sun Hemo the Magnificent

Rendezvous in Space

Related

Bibliography Liberty Films Frank Capra
Frank Capra
Jr. (son) Five Came Back (2017

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