Letter of Introduction

Director: John M. Stahl

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Letter of Introduction It's New Year Eve & the streets of New York are crowded with revelers. But theatrical & vaudevillians' boarding house has caught fire. Edgar Bergan has to hurry into the smoky building to save Charlie McCarthey.

Kay (Andrea Leeds) rushes in, too, but only to save the Letter of Introduction (1938). She ends up trapped on the roof with a helpful young man, Barry (George Murphy), who lives across the street & has been peeping on her for some while.

Burned out of home, Kay goes with her new friend to a New Years party at his place. Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy do shtick throughout, insuring that the film is loads of fun. Edgar & Charlie end up flirting with droll Cora, played by Eve Arden of Our Miss Brooks radio & early television fame.

Barry is part of a dance act of Rogers & Astair wannabes. His stage partner is Honey (Rita Johnson) who loves Barry, but he's obliviously crushed out on Kay.

The all-important Letter which Kay risked her life to retrieve is an introduction to one John Mannering (Adolphe Menjou), who she hopes can really get her acting career going, so she can quit her job in a department store.

That Mannering turns out to be her never-known father, who destroyed his own career through alcoholism, is a real disappointment for Kay.

Although he seems eager to make some amends for past failings, at the same time, while struggling to recharge his own career, he doesn't want anyone to know he has a grown daughter. And his foolish refusal to tell even his closest friends who Kay really is gets him in trouble with his own gal Lydia (Ann Sheridan).

Letter of Introduction is a very good little film, part serious drama, part comedy, & part romantic screwball comedy. The cast is tremendous, & the whole thing builds toward an opening night of dreams either coming true or not, culminating in a healiingly "clever" encounter between father & daughter confronting one another in the play itself, in front of an audience, while staying in character the whole while.

It begs comparison to the far better known Stage Door (1937), a melodrama showing the theatrical world behind-the-scenes, with enough comedy to keep it from being painful & enough real drama to keep it from being trivial.

Andrea Leeds had great notices & an Oscar nomination for best supporting role in Stage Door so was given her own starring vehicle of a similar shade. Big stardom evaded her, however, & she would make very few films after Letter of Introduction.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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