Quality Street (1937)

Quality Street (1937)

A pretty good film directed by Irving G. Thalberg Award winner George Stevens featuring Katharine Hepburn Franchot Tone and Fay Bainter; it was based on a J.M. Barrie play that was scripted by Allan Scott and Mortimer Offner. “1805 – When a gentleman passerby is an event”. Hepburn plays a woman who was attracted to Tone before he chose to go off to war. When he returns (10) years later she has aged and he finds her less attractive. During these years she and her sister (Bainter) ran a school for boys and girls. Hepburn’s character decides to invent a beautiful niece for herself who she then becomes by dressing younger and using heavy makeup. Naturally Tone’s character and several of the other military officers are irresistibly drawn to her only Bainter knows her secret but the snoopy neighbors (including Estelle Winwood) suspect something is up. Shenanigans take place at a dance and then at the two sisters’ home as Hepburn struggles to play two characters at once and keep up the charade for Tone. Lots of fun insight into the proper dating protocol of the times (my how they’ve changed!) – one must be introduced to a man before speaking to him etc. – in the early 19th Century. Eric Blore is a recruiting Sergeant and gets to play his familiar confused man in the middle type of role; Cora Witherspoon their maid who’s drawn to him. Joan Fontaine and Bonita Granville appear uncredited. Roy Webb received the first of his seven unrewarded Oscar nominations for his Music Score.

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