First Lady (1937)

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First Lady (1937) Poster

As presidential election time approaches in Washington it is the women behind the scenes who seem to be making the decisions.


6.2/10
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  • Kay Francis in First Lady (1937)
  • Kay Francis and Verree Teasdale in First Lady (1937)
  • Kay Francis in First Lady (1937)
  • Kay Francis and Verree Teasdale in First Lady (1937)
  • Kay Francis in First Lady (1937)
  • Victor Jory and Verree Teasdale in First Lady (1937)

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25 September 2008 | bkoganbing
7
| Cocktails For The Nation
Kay Francis stars in a delightful adaptation of the George S. Kaufman- Katharine Dayton play First Lady which enjoyed a nice run on Broadway in the 1934-1935 season and starred Jane Cowl and Stanley Ridges in the parts played here by Francis and Preston Foster.

Back in these days when primaries were only confined to a very few states and deals were made in those proverbial smoke filled rooms, First Lady was far more relevant in the national scene of those years than now. Kay Francis is the wife of Secretary of State Preston Foster and she'd like to see her husband as President. Her family has been in the White House before, her grandfather was president at one time. It's what's given her the status of Washington hostess and behind the scenes maker of policy and men.

Kaufman was very clever indeed in choosing Kay's character name of Kate Chase Wayne. Back in the 19th century one Kate Chase Sprague was the daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Governor and Senator from Ohio and Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury. Chase was a widower and his daughter before and after she married William Sprague, a Senator from Rhode Island was a popular Washington hostess and behind the scenes back room player. She strove mightily to make her father president, he had to settle for being Chief Justice however to cap his career off.

This 20th century Kate Chase has an ongoing rivalry with another Washington hostess in Verree Teasdale. Teasdale is the trophy wife of a pompous old water buffalo of a Supreme Court Justice in Walter Connolly, but a promising young Senator in Victor Jory has caught her eye as well as the eye of Anita Louise, Francis's niece. Teasdale's thinking that she'd like to be First Lady even unofficially and she's pushing Keith.

Francis gets right back and starts a rumor that Connolly just might make a good presidential candidate and she's hoisted on her own petard for that one. The boom for the pompous old galoot actually takes off. Kay's got to do some scrambling for that one.

Of course she saves the day, but it's through the use of another old 19th century scandal that did almost sink a presidential candidacy and is more successful here. You have to see First Lady to find out what Kay did.

Francis and Teasdale are a good set of foes the like of which weren't seen until Joan Collins and Linda Evans came on prime time TV in Dynasty. My favorite though is Connolly, a guy no one thought of as president until he gets the bug. In fact this seems to be the germ of the idea for the famous George S. Kaufman film, The Senator Was Indiscreet with William Powell playing exactly the kind of character Connolly plays in the next decade.

You think Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain ever spar on the Washington, DC cocktail party circuit like this?

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