Hepburn's Stage Struck
Having headed to the big city Eva Lovelace (Katharine Hepburn - Christopher Strong) has a dream of becoming a famous stage actress and heads to the office of Louis Easton (Adolphe Menjou) in the hope he will cast her in a play. Whilst there she meets veteran actor Hedges (C. Aubrey Smith - Beyond Tomorrow) and enthusiastically persuades him to give her lessons before meeting young playwright Joseph Sheridan (Douglas Fairbanks Jr. - Sinbad the Sailor) who thinks she is too naive. Whilst struggling to start with Eva gets her shot at the big time when as an understudy she gets called upon when the lead actress walks out on a play due to her demands not being met. Her performance steals the show and also the heart of Joseph but she believes that having a career and a relationship don't go together.
I will lay it on the line, the storyline to "Morning Glory" whilst good is nothing special not only because the story of a wannabe actress is a familiar one and the fact that this was remade some years later but also because this version is incredibly staged. Now that is understandable as "Morning Glory" not only has its roots as a play but many plays which were adapted on to the big screen back in the 1930's had a tendency to stay true to the feel of the play. As such whilst this story takes us to various settings it doesn't have the flow and becomes episodic which considering its relatively short running time is understandable. But whilst feeling stagy it is still a beautifully shot movie with cinematographer Bert Glennon doing a brilliant job of not just capturing Hepburn's youthful beauty but also capturing the spirit of her character with clever use of close ups.
But in truth "Morning Glory" is a movie which works thanks to Katharine Hepburn who is on stunning form as the young Eva Lovelace bringing the small town naivety of her character to life but also her unrelenting optimism and enthusiastic belief she will be a great actress. It is an intoxicating mix which with Glennon's cinematography allows us to instantly fall for the optimistic charms of this young actress who tries to come across as high brow with the various people she speaks of but obviously is less refined. It is little wonder that Hepburn won the first of her four Oscars for this performance and it may sound like a cliche but this is a role she was born to play. And the scene where she recites Shakespeare with a playful drunken giggle giving way to her sweeping romantic vocalization is one of the best scenes you will ever see.
But Hepburn is not the only one who puts in a good performance with the great C. Aubrey Smith coming across as energised in the scenes he shares with her; you can sense that he enjoyed working with someone who attacked her performance with gusto. Adolphe Menjou is just as good as Louis Easton the producer but surprisingly the most disappointing performance comes from Douglas Fairbanks Jr. who either seems over whelmed by the spirit of Hepburn or not fully interested in making the movie. In fairness it is not a bad performance from Fairbanks Jr. but seems the weak link in the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Morning Glory" is not anything that special with its familiar storyline of a naive young girl seeking fame on stage but it features a captivating performance from Katharine Hepburn which won her the first of her 4 Oscars.