In this lighthearted, sentimental tale, Apple Annie (played by the charming 75-year-old May Robson) is an apple peddler who is known and loved by everyone in Times Square, local bigwigs and her fellow panhandlers alike, although she puts the squeeze on the latter in order to pay for the
education of her secret daughter, Jean Parker. Even though she hasn't seen Parker since her birth, Robson faithfully writes to her in Spain, pretending to be a wealthy grande dame who resides in a posh New York hotel. But Robson is thrown into a panic when Parker sends a letter announcing her
imminent arrival. She is to be accompanied by her fiance of royal blood, Barry Norton, and his father, Walter Connolly, both of whom are anxious to meet Robson. Hot-shot gambler Warren William hears of Robson's predicament and offers her a way out. (William's kindness comes from his superstition
that Robson's apples bring him luck in his high-stakes wagering.) With help from everyone including the governor, Robson is given a luxurious hotel suite, then fitted by dressmakers, pampered by servants, and treated like the lady Parker thinks she is. The situation nears the breaking point, but
by the finale Parker and Norton are blissfully united. Having successfully married her daughter off, Robson seems content to return to her humble Times Square apple-peddling.
LADY FOR A DAY was an audience smash, and director Frank Capra began his long string of successes. Capra was not the only one to profit from this film, though. Robson, who was chosen when Capra was refused Marie Dressler, was given her finest and most memorable role after a prosperous stage and
screen career that spanned decades. Writer Robert Riskin strengthened his collaboration with Capra (they would later co-write IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, and MEET JOHN DOE) as well as getting his girl friend Glenda Farrell a supporting role. LADY FOR A DAY even boosted the
popularity of writer Damon Runyon, who sold the rights to his story "Madame la Gimp" to Capra for only $1,500. Given all the critical raves that LADY FOR A DAY garnered, Capra thought he had an Oscar winner in this film, and the movie did receive four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best
Actress (Robson), Best Director, and Best Screen Adaptation. But the film was shut out. CAVALCADE won for best picture and its director, Frank Lloyd, also won, while Katharine Hepburn took the Best Actress statuette for MORNING GLORY, and LITTLE WOMEN won in the writing category. The awards
ceremony proved to be a major embarrassment for Capra. During the announcement of Best Director, Will Rogers tore open the envelope and, as Capra recounts in his biography The Name Above the Title, said: "What do you know! I've watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the
bottom. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Come up and get it, Frank." Forgetting, as did Rogers, that there were two "Franks" nominated--Capra and Lloyd, Capra began making his way to the stage. Halfway to the stage, a confused Capra finally realized his mistake when he saw Lloyd approaching
Rogers at the podium. The following year, however, Capra redeemed himself with IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Capra and Riskin reworked LADY FOR A DAY in 1961 as POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES. The sequel was LADY BY CHOICE.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: In this lighthearted, sentimental tale, Apple Annie (played by the charming 75-year-old May Robson) is an apple peddler who is known and loved by everyone in Times Square, local bigwigs and her fellow panhandlers alike, although she puts the squeeze on the… (more)