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  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Stand-In" gave Bogart his first real chance to play comedy as it matched him once again with Leslie Howard, "The Petrified Forest" co-star, in a gentle and moderate tale of an efficiency expert (Howard) who is sent to Hollywood to save a stumbling studio from potential ruin…

    Howard is appropriately stuffy as he enlisted the aid of former child star Joan Blondell to teach him the more practical side of movie-making…

    Bogart drew his share of laughs... He plays a producer-editor who had taken to the bottle after an unsuccessful romance with one of the studio's stars, but moves to action when Howard uses him to rescue a movie "bomb" and turn it into a success big enough to save the studio
  • Tay Garnett had a flair for comedy, and he proves it again with this film, "Stand-In" from 1937, starring Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell, and Humphrey Bogart. Howard plays businesslike accountant Atterbury Dodd, who comes out to Hollywood to find out what the problem is with Collosal Studios, which the owner wants to sell. The studio isn't making money, and it should be. When Dodd gets out to LA, he meets stand in Lester Plum (Blondell), a former child star who falls for him. Of course, he's completely unaware of anything on a personal level and she is constantly thwarted. He's only in Hollywood to find out why the movie factory is losing money.

    Dodd learns that a director, Koslofski, is making a jungle movie, Sex and Satan starring a star on the wane, Thelma Cheri. Doug Quintain, who heads up the studio, is in love with her in spite of himself. It turns out there's not only amazing waste and pilfering going on at the studio, but a plot is afoot to make the studio lose money so it is ripe for purchase by an unscrupulous businessman who eats up small studios. This will put everyone at the studio out of work. Can Dodd save the day?

    Howard is great as Dodd, a man with few social skills and a mathematical mind. Blondell is adorable as Lester, who started life as a Shirley Temple wannabee and now is a stand in. Bogart gives his usual fine performance as the harried producer who has everything hanging on a film where the ape has proved to be more popular than the star.

    Very good movie. Tay Garnett did "Love is News," another delightful comedy, available on the Tyrone Power Matinée Idol Collection. In a tribute to Power in 2008, "Love is News" was the hit of the three-day tribute. Garnett's work is worth checking out.
  • Colossal studios is in the financial toilet. The bank that's holding the mortgage sends one of their top men, Leslie Howard, to figure out what to do to save the studio or sell it to C. Henry Gordon a rival movie mogul.

    Howard may not know the first thing about making movies and his people skills leave something to be desired, but he's now wondering why Gordon is so anxious to acquire this property.

    Howard supersedes Colossal studio head Humphrey Bogart as head of the company and gets a crash course in film making. Of course he's helped quite a bit by Joan Blondell who he meets accidentally while on the way to the studio. She's an extra and a stand-in and she gives him a few lessons in management and a few other things.

    This was the second and last pairing of Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. At Howard's insistence, Bogey was brought to Warner Brothers to repeat his stage role in The Petrified Forest which he and Howard co-starred in on Broadway.

    Stand-in is not The Petrified Forest, but it's still an amusing comedy and good entertainment.
  • From the moment you see an epic movie about gorillas, or performing seals in a boarding house, or horrendously untalented little kids with showbiz mommas, you know you have a marvellous Follywood spoof.

    This little-mentioned or cited comedy pits snappy Joan Blondell against – of all people – versatile Leslie Howard, in a studio-set tale of corruption, change, and romance. You'll also find Humphrey Bogart in one of his climbing-up-the ladder roles as a crusty, hard-drinking backroom man.

    Blondell plays the ‘stand-in' of the title, that is, the girl who burns under the lights while the leading lady gets pampered and the shot gets set up. Howard is an accountant, transported into a world he doesn't initially appreciated, to discover the reason for the studio's cash-flow problems.

    Do you know how it ends yet? This was the film that persuaded me of Howard's incredible gift for getting laughs as well as his dramatic skills, and I've been a fan ever since. Blondell and Bogart are also terrific, and this is a minor, but hugely enjoyable, 30s gem.
  • Kalaman11 April 2003
    A snappy, very funny spoof of the studio system by Tay Garnett, starring Leslie Howard as a rigid, conservative accountant who manages to take over a failing movie studio; Joan Blondell plays Howard's confidant and partner, a former child star now working as a stand-in for an overrated glamour queen Marla Shelton. Humphrey Bogart turns in a likable supporting role as the mean movie producer. Admittedly, some of the stuff are a bit weary and tiresome, but the camaraderie between Howard and Blondell and the brief spoof on Shirley Temple are enough to make "Stand-In" thoroughly enjoyable.
  • This is a satire on big business types who let a perfectly viable business (in this case, a film studio) fail for their own profit, leaving all the "little people" in the lurch. The words "capital" and "labor" even get bandied around! A few years ago modern viewers might have found this boring, but with today's economy, people may find that they can relate to it better than they expected! Besides that, it's an interesting "behind the camera" look at Hollywood, 1930s style.

    Leslie Howard is great as the sheltered accountant who comes to Hollywood to see what's up with his bank's film studio, Joan Blondell is also great in her usual breezy, funny style as the former child star now working as a stand-in for a famous actress. There's also a youngish Humphrey Bogart as a film producer. I really wonder if Howard and Blondell did those ju-jitsu throws themselves, and if those outdoor scenes really were shot in downtown Los Angeles! Quite funny and definitely recommended!
  • Worth it for the boarding house and its inmates alone, this is a glorious satire on '30s Hollywood. Leslie Howard is at his comic best (see also 'It's Love I'm After'), vague and unworldly. The supporting cast is excellent. Joan Blondell is gorgeous and *funny*. Humphrey Bogart, Howard's good mate and progege - Howard insisted that Bogart got the convict role in Petrified Forest in the film, having appreciated acting with him in the play, and that was his big break in films. And Bogart acknowledged the friendship by calling his first child Lesley (she was a girl). Alan Mowbray and Jack Conway also add to the fun.

    A sharp commentary on the wonderful world of B movies!
  • When a Hollywood studio called ¨Colossal Productions¨ is threatened with bankruptcy , the bank sends a shy efficiency expert (Leslie Howard) to save it from financial ruin . A former child star (interestingly cast Joan Blondell) falls in love with the stuffy as well as head-in-the-books accountant , who wants to learn why his firm's movie studio is losing money . Meantime , there appears Bogart playing a drunken filmmaker in love with star Shelton . Soon Leslie discovers there's a scheme to sabotage ¨Colossal¨ and sell it to the unscrupulous Ivor Nassau (effective Henry Gordon). While , the studio is shooting a failed film titled ¨Sex and Satan¨ starred by Cheri (Marla Shelton) .

    A high-grade as well as amusing comedy on Hollywood low-life filled with laughs , fun happenings , sentiment and funny events . This is an intelligently made picture blend of satire , humor and farce . The main actors play such an amusingly made movie that spectators will appeal too much . Nice acting by Leslie Howard as a hard-working , timid and stiff accountant expert on mathematics . Humphrey Bogart is well cast in his first comedy role playing a drunk producer at a quite amazing character . This is an absolute gift for fans of Howard and Bogart to watch them step outside their ordinary genres . Special mention to delicious Joan Blondell as likable and fiery stand-in actress called Lester Plum ; she bares some resemblance Marie Osborne, a child actress in the silent era who returned to the film industry in the 1930's as an extra and stand-in . Good support cast such as Alan Mowbray , Marla Shelton , Henry Gordon , Jack Carson and uncredited Charles Middleton . The former silent film star in the boarding house , desperate for a small role in a film, is played by Mary MacLaren, a former leading lady of the silent film era who, by the time this film was made, was working as an extra . Atmospheric musical score by Heinz Roemheld . Adequate and evocative cinematography by Charles Clarke .

    This lavishly and highly budgeted motion picture was well produced by Walter Wanger , being professionally directed by Tay Garnett , a good Hollywood craftsman . Tay entered films in 1920 as a screenwriter . After a stint as a gag writer for Mack Sennett and Hal Roach he joined Pathe, then the distributor for both competing comedy producers, and in 1928 began directing for that company . Garnett garnered some attention in the early 1930s with such films as Bad company (1931) and Way Passage (1932) , but his best work came in the mid-'30s and early 1940s with such films as S.O.S. Iceberg (1933) , China seas (1935), Slave Ship (1937) and Trade Winds (1938) . His best known film would have to the John Garfield/Lana Turner vehicle : The postman always rings twice (1946), although his version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949) was a well-deserved critical and commercial success as well . Other successes were the followings : Bataan (1943) , The cross of Lorraine (1943) , Soldiers Three (151) , The Black Knight (1953) , and , of course , this ¨Stand-in¨ , among others . As ¨Stand-in¨results to be a treat for Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard enthusiasts .
  • This film is enjoyable to watch mostly because of the performances of Tully Marshall and Leslie Howard. While Marshall is in a smaller role, it's hilarious seeing him playing the old and nasty guy who is the head of a mega-corporation--and the way his son and grandson react to him. Marshall has never been funnier--and the same can also be said for Howard. Howard is in his element playing a very stuffy but funny guy--one of his best.

    The film begins at a meeting of the board. Marshall learns that his corporation owns a failing movie studio and he's not sure whether they should sell it or keep it--so he dispatches Howard to investigate and makes him the temporary head of the studio. Soon, however, it becomes obvious that Howard is ill-prepared for this job. Although he's great with economics and figures, he doesn't know people. Many of his employees run all over him and he barely notices that one of them (Joan Blondell) is infatuated with him. Can he somehow work all this out or will the studio be sold to the highest bidder?

    The film has some nice supporting actors. In addition to Marshall and Blondell, you've also got Humphrey Bogart in a VERY unconventional role as the head of programming. All in all, the stars did a nice job. And, it didn't hurt that the script was quite witty and fun. All in all, a nice little parody of the studios--with many of their foibles roasted here in this cute film. Worth seeing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It seemed in the late 30s every other mother thought their child was a potential Shirley Temple. With her huge popularity there was an influx of bossy stage mothers with their mostly untalented children camping outside studio gates.

    Leslie Howard plays Atterbury Dodd, a conservative accountant bought in by the bank (that is holding the mortgage) to see if he can find out why Colossal Studios are going broke. He comes to Hollywood and finds talentless stars, hack photographers and syncophants galore. On arrival he is accosted by Elvira, a Shirley Temple "wannabe" pushed by her harmonica playing mother. It is a hilarious scene when the mother asks if Elvira can show him more of her act, Atterbury responds "Don't you think Elvira's done enough!!!"

    He decides to stay at Mrs Mack's boarding house so he can get some "fresh air". Lester Plum (Joan Blondell) a "stand-in", also stays there - she tries to put him wise to Hollywood ways. "I was the Shirley Temple of my day" "Who is Shirley Temple? - I've heard that name a lot today"!!!

    He finds extravagance everywhere - Koslofski (Alan Mowbray) rejecting a paper edelweiss flower in favour of a real one - even though he has to import one from Switzerland!!! Director Doug Kincaid (Humphrey Bogart) has to deal with Thelma (Marla Shelton), a temperamental actress who is his ex fiancée. Along with his faithful companion Max (a Scotch Terrier) he is trying to do the best he can in a sea of mediocrity. An injoke - when Atterbury first meets Kincaid, Kincaid is swinging a tennis raquet - Humphrey Bogart is said to have introduced the immortal line "tennis, anyone" in a 1920s Broadway play.

    After an advance screening of "Sex and Satan" - it is considered a "dog". Atterbury decides to remake the movie as a comedy. He brings back Kincaid to direct, he takes Thelma out on the town so he can get her drunk and invoke the morals clause in her contract and terminate it. The movie ends pretty quickly but you know what is going to happen.

    A young Jack Carson has the role of the obnoxious Mr. Potts. Mary McLaren, a leading lady of early silent days, plays Naomi, a woman in the boarding house who is insulted by the "extra" work she is offered. Charles Middleton ("Ming the Merciless" from "Flash Gordon") plays a gentleman at the boarding house dressed for when he is going to be offered the role of Abraham Lincoln. He tells Naomi to hold out for a bigger role.

    Recommended.
  • Atterbury Dodd is opposed to his New York banker bosses selling off Colossal Studios for only half of what he thinks its worth. Being the first person ever to stand up to the big boss he's sent off to see whats going on with the seemingly failing studio. Once there he finds that the buyer is manipulating the latest Colossal movie into being a turkey so he can buy the studio cheap and turn a profit when he closes it down. Dodd also runs into Miss Plum who will soon becomes Dodd's guide through the madness of film making.

    Much of the film is concerned with Dodd dealing with the insanity of film studios while not realizing that he's falling in love with Miss Plum. The last third of the film concerns efforts to turn save the studio and the film.

    This is really a Leslie Howard movie. Howard and Joan Blondell, as Miss Plum are a wonderful screen couple and one wishes there was even more time of them together. Although Humphrey Bogart is listed third he's in maybe 20 minutes of this often funny film. He is wonderful in a the role of the previous studio head and producer of the turkey in the making.

    The film is filled with funny lines and fleeting appearances, Charles Middleton is a scream; as is a stuntman who refuses to do his stunt for money. This is a funny funny movie especially if you love old movies.

    The problem is that the film is at times unfocused. Is it a comedy? A Romance? The sequences with the villain seem to be from another movie. I question why some of the characters are allowed to be so annoying, Potts, the publicity man in particular, is the screen version of fingernails on a blackboard. I'm sure there were people like that in Hollywood, but I never want to meet them.

    I also have a problem with the ending which ends too soon for my tastes.

    Still this is 90 minutes of great fun, especially if you love old films.

    Worth seeking out, possibly even buying.

    7 out of 10 with spikes of truly wonderful moments (Going under the table for one)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The banking concern of Pettypacker and Sons is about to sell their interest in Colossal Film Studios, until accountant extraordinaire Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) points out that the five million dollar deal is worth at least twice that much. Standing up to the senior Pettypacker, Dodd offers to head to Hollywood to head up his own internal investigation of the studio.

    The characters Dodd meets in tinsel town are more like caricatures than real people. There's the blustering movie director Koslofski (Alan Mowbray), the alcoholic producer Quintain (Humphrey Bogart), the annoying publicist Potts (Jack Carson), and the prima donna of all time Thelma Cheri (Marla Shelton). Even Dodd himself is the consummate number cruncher, reducing meaningful personal relationships to "cogs" and "units". The only real heart and soul person that Dodd discovers is the delightful former child star Lester Plum (Joan Blondell), reduced to stand in roles that earn her a meager forty dollars a week when she can get the work.

    The film has a lot of bizarre scenes that produce double takes, such as the Shirley Temple wanna be that performs on the spot auditions, and the seal and penguin act that share a room in the boarding house where Miss Plum resides. Blondell's character earns Dodd's interest when she uses a judo flip to throw him on his keester; that move will be repeated more than once as the film progresses.

    At the center of Dodd's investigation is the production of a guaranteed to flop movie that will put Colossal over the financial edge and insure a bargain basement sale to big shot businessman Ivor Nassau (C. Henry Gordon), who will then lay off virtually the entire studio. The name of the film, and you better sit tight, is "Sex and Satan" - it's a jungle movie! With lines like "Goodbye little jungle goddess", the movie is guaranteed to be dead out of the water. Making lemonade out of this lemon will take some doing, but Dodd puts on his best human face and organizes the masses for a final rally to save the day. And all of this after being fired by Pettypacker!

    I would probably never have seen this film had I not been such a loyal Humphrey Bogart fan. Though he's third billed behind Howard and Blondell, his screen time is nominal, alternating between one of the studio heavies and his later conversion to a Dodd ally. It's a rare comic role for Bogey in which he appears somewhat uncomfortable, but ultimately satisfying once he decides to ditch gold digger Thelma Cheri and edit a gorilla into her jungle scenes.

    The movie closes on the hint of a romance between Dodd and Miss Plum, just about when she's run out of options and hope of pinning him down. Fortunately the number cruncher decides to have a heart, as unlikely as that may have seemed at the outset. It's a well deserved finale for Joan Blondell's character, her good natured warmth and sincerity deserved to win out in the end.
  • Fast and snappy spoof of the studio system from the bottom looking up, as stand-in Joan Blondell guides a newcomer to "who's through in Hollywood". Bogart has a good supporting role as a boozing producer who has to salvage an unwatchable gorilla epic. Not a classic, but very enjoyable for its energy.
  • Leslie Howard is a surprisingly good comic lead in "Stand-In," as a human counting machine sent to Hollywood to oversee a failing movie studio and the crooks running it.

    This is a spoof of Hollywood as well as "big business" as Howard tries to learn the movie business with the help of a pretty has-been child star now working as a double (Joan Blondell) and an oddly effete Humphrey Bogart as a director battling an overblown star (Marla Shelton) and hack director (Alan Mowbray).

    Howard, Blondell, and Boagrt all give terrific performances, but if someone like Preston Sturges had been involved this would have been a classic. As it is, it's a small but funny film, but rather minor.

    Jack Carson is the blowhard press agent, Tully Marshall the ancient board chairman, C. Henry Gordon as the head crook, Esther Howard is the landlady, Anne O'Neal is the stage mother, Charles Middleton is Abe Lincoln, and then there's that gorilla....
  • This is one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time! Leslie Howard plays a rigid, naive accountant who is sent to Hollywood to look at the books of a movie studio. Blondell plays his boarding house neighbor,a movie stand-in who becomes his secretary, teacher and confidant. Humphrey Bogart has a rare comic role as a movie producer, and does extremely well in it. In fact, he has one of the funniest scenes. Thrown out of a bar because he's drunk, he and his little Scottie dog stand outside it. Bogart wears a placard saying "this cafe is unfair to me", and the dog wears a placard saying the same thing. Shirley Temple is also satirized in this film. If you love old movies, you shouldn't miss this one!
  • I just watched a half-great movie. "Stand-in" is a spoof of Hollywood show biz with Leslie Howard and Joan Blondell in top form. The first hour is one of the best stretches of screwball comedy I've seen; the last half hour stinks. I thought, so what? I had my fun.

    Atterbury Dodd (Howard), an employee of Pettypacker & Sons in New York, has numbers and figures flowing in his blood along with the corpuscles, to paraphrase a girl he's about to meet. He clashes with the eldest Pettypacker himself (Tully Marshall) over the sale of Colossal Studios out in California. Dodd argues against selling it, so Pettypacker sends him to Hollywood to find out why the movie factory is losing money. Back at Colossal, Koslofski (Alan Mowbray), a director with a cheap foreign accent, is making a jungle picture called "Sex and Satan" with Thelma Cheri (Marla Shelton), a leading lady whose hips do all her acting.

    That's according to her producer and former lover, Doug Quintain (Humphrey Bogart), a guy who always carries his Scottish terrier under his arm. Dodd finds himself schmoozed by the publicist Tom Potts (Jack Carson) and harassed by an aggressive stage mother (Ann O'Neal) the moment he arrives, sending him fleeing to somewhere no one can find him: Mrs. Mack's boarding house for broken-down actors, which includes the former child star Lester Plum, a.k.a. Sugar Plum (Blondell), who is now a stand-in for Thelma Cheri. Soon he discovers there's a plot to sabotage the studio and sell it to the unscrupulous Ivor Nassau (C. Henry Gordon). Meanwhile, Plum becomes Dodd's secretary, falls in love with him, and is annoyed to find that he admires her—for her mind.

    The joys of this film are many. The wheelchair-bound Marshall seems spry enough to compete in "Murderball." O'Neal plays harmonica as her repulsive young daughter brassily sings "Is It True What They Say About Dixie"—only to hear Dodd shout that the girl ought to be out playing in the sun. The boarders at Mrs. Mack's include Charles Middleton, who is perpetually dressed as Abraham Lincoln; Emerson Treacy (Spanky's dad in a couple of "Our Gang" shorts) as the stunt man who has his pride; and Mary MacLaren, who can't get work in a remake of a silent picture she had starred in. Blondell hilariously sings "On the Good Ship Lollypop" and later gives Howard jujitsu lessons. And scenes from "Sex and Satan" show the gorilla out-acting the leading lady.

    In the first hour, hardly anything is bad. Jack Carson, in a very typical role, gives an oddly strained performance. The only significant defect is Bogart as the producer. Remember that great scene in "The Big Sleep" where Phillip Marlowe puts on glasses and pretends to be a snippy bookworm? It shows that Bogart ought to have been able to pull off screwball comedy, but here he bites off his lines like Sam Spade.

    Anyway, after a uproarious first hour, the movie drops dead. Dodd loses his job and so does everyone else at the studio; and suddenly the tone of the movie becomes earnest, a paean to working class types and a would-be inspiring demonstration of what the little guy can do if he'll just organize against the fat cats. Frank Capra could pull this stuff off, but Tay Garnett directing a script based on a Clarence Budington Kelland novel, cannot. The last half-hour is so bad it can make you forget what you had just watched before.

    But don't. How many movies are great entertainment for even an hour?
  • One of the most remarkable unknown films I ever stumbled upon. The protagonist, a gentle, scrupulously honest accountant (Leslie Howard) remains in this character throughout the movie, heroically overcomes the venal studio owners, and wins the love of voluptuously cute Joan Blondel. The movie ends with their fingertips about to touch, their only physical contact throughout the film, with Joan's ending words, "I think we'll be very happy". There's more, including a triumphant communist studio workers uprising that takes over the studio. But this is just an esoteric lagniappe to complement the astounding performances of Blondel and (especially) Howard.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This 1937 comedy is part satire about the motion picture industry and part farce about Hollywood studios sometimes turning our real turkeys for movies. It spoofs finicky actresses and snooty directors. The studio heads mostly get a pass. "Stand-In" is a very good comedy with some romance. It looks at the movie industry, banking and corruption in the course of the plot. The movie is based on a novel by Clarence Kelland who had some 20 books made into films.

    The first sign that we're in for fun is the early Hollywood disclaimer that runs at the start of the movie. It reads, "The characters and events depicted in this motion picture are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." And, boy, are there some real coincidences in this movie.

    The film then opens with some funny scenes in the New York offices of the Pettypacker Bank firm. The grandfather and head of the firm calls Atterbury Dodd a "pig-headed young man." When it switches to California, we see a radio announcer, Rush Hughes, who's using his actual name. He is mimicking the gossip reporters of the day (Walter Winchell in New York, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons in Hollywood). He is on the air talking about Dodd's expected arrival to save Colossal. In the gossip fashion of the day, he says, "Colossal is not sick. It's dying from slow poisoning. My guess is it's an inside job engineered by an outside chiseler with the aid of which fading feminine super sex star and what cheese director with a phony foreign accent? Don't ask."

    Leslie Howard stars as Dodd, a stuffed shirt banker who's a whiz with numbers but very shy on the human side. Joan Blondell is perfect as Lester Plum, a sometimes actress and trained secretary who takes an immediate liking to Dodd. Humphrey Bogart is Quintain, the acting head of Colossal Studio and producer of the current film that will keep the studio afloat if it's a box office hit.

    But contributing to the film's downfall are a host of folks who are in on a ruse – all with different deals worked out with Ivor Nassau, president of the Hollywood Cinema Finance Co. He buys troubled studios for a song and then closing them down, putting a few thousand employees out of work. He makes money on the property and salvage. C. Henry Gordon plays Nassau. The people in the employ of Colossal who are making the next film to bomb are the real test for Dodd when he arrives to take charge. He has to try to learn the business if he's going to save it.

    Marla Shelton is the glamour headliner, Cheri, whose star is fast fading. Alan Mowbray is the fake foreign director, Koslofski. And, Jack Carson is the studio publicity man, Tom Potts. Carson's role is particularly grating – he plays the loudmouth PR pusher perfectly. Mowbray's Koslofski is overboard. All of these characters come across as hammy – no doubt intended that way.

    And that works well against Howard's Dodd who, though an expert numbers cruncher, is very naive about the goings-on in movie productions. Quintain and Lester come to his rescue, and Dodd turns over a leaf that surprises all and saves the studio in the end for the people -- the employees and the stockholders. Some other characters figures in the early scenes before Dodd sets off for California. Tully Marshall is especially good as Fowler Pettypacker, the grandfather and head of the family banking firm, of which Dodd has been the executive manager. Today his position would be called a CEO. Fowler's son and grandson are on his board of directors – and they're two robot "yes" men.

    This is a fine film for Howard in a role that shows his versatility as an actor. I sometimes find Joan Blondell a little aggravating in her films in which her part seems to go overboard; but she's just right in this film. I think it's one of her better comedy roles.

    The comedy here is in a combination of witty lines and delivery and some hammy filming and acting scenes. The film mixes in some sweetness as Dodd comes out of his shell. One hilarious scene has Quintain a little tipsy and being turned away at the door of a favorite nightspot. He has ad boards over his head that read, "This café is unfair to Quintain." His Scotty dog on a leash has ad boards on him that read, "This café is unfair to me too."

    Here are a few funny lines from the film. Dodd, "Miss Plum, I sometimes find it difficult to differentiate between facetiousness and sincerity." Lester Plum, "Tell me. Did your studies reveal any faint trace of beauty?" Dodd, "Well, you must be rather beautiful, Miss Plum. Otherwise the impulse to observe you would never have occurred to me." Miss Plum, "You're capable of great restraint in your admiration."

    Dodd, "But I know you. I require someone who can't be corrupted and who will be absolutely faithful to me." Lester, "Strangely, most men like women that are faithful but that corrupt easily."

    Quintain, "You realize that this makes you a libertine and a charlatan, don't you?" Dodd, "Yes, I'm fully aware of that. I'm quite willing to make the sacrifice."
  • Leslie Howard is one of that handful of actors whose name alone on the credits will get me to watch anything; but given the variety of other talent involved and the general recommendation I'd heard for the film, I have to admit I was left somewhat disappointed in this one.

    It's not that "Stand-In" is a bad picture, as such. It's amusing so far as it goes. But the entertainment seems an entirely surface one; I felt that somewhere it was missing the heart that would have made it a much better film, and that has for me provided more enjoyment from films more obviously flawed.

    A contemporary reviewer commented that Leslie Howard came across, despite valiant efforts, as ill at ease with physical slapstick better suited to a Harold Lloyd, and suggested he would have been more at home with a more verbal form of comedy; and this may be part of the problem. But I think for me the trouble was just a basic inability to engage with any of the characters on any level beyond the most superficial. Atterbury Dodd's significant trait is emptying ashtrays - for Douglas Quintain it is carrying around a small dog. Beyond this sort of character shorthand there is little depth to either of them: the film is a quick and cheerful satire on the studio set-up, but I didn't actually enjoy it as much as, say, "The Falcon in Hollywood". By the time we get to the stage at which the hero returns unexpectedly to find himself being lampooned, I felt the situation really ought to provoke a pang of partisanship rather than a mild titter.

    The role of Atterbury Dodd, the dry-as-dust bespectacled accountant who discovers sympathy for his fellow men and becomes an unlikely hero, is one that might have been typecast for Leslie Howard, and one that he could probably have sleepwalked through if necessary. However, he plays the part here gamely enough, somewhat hampered in the ultimate showdown by his convincing portrayal of a man who literally can't see straight: contrary to Hollywood convention, Dodd is genuinely dependent on his spectacles and cannot be magically transformed into an action hero by losing them. He delivers his big speech in golden-haired clean-cut Scarlet Pimpernel mode, but does it while effectively as blind as a bat -- a fine piece of acting on Howard's part, but the whole sudden conversion from number-pusher to philanthropist is not an entirely convincing character transformation. Likewise, Quintain's much-mentioned (and plot-necessary) love for the thoroughly obnoxious leading lady is stated, but never really credibly depicted. This is lightweight comedy, carried out more or less by-the-numbers.

    The other thing that puzzled me was my conviction that I'd seen certain isolated scenes of the film elsewhere, without having any recollection whatsoever of the plot! The scene where the dancing-lesson ends up with feet drawn all over the floor could easily be generic comedy (and in fact I'm now pretty sure I'd seen it in a silent short earlier this year), but that 'jungle woman' footage is very distinctive, and where I could have seen it before is more than I can guess. Perhaps some "100 Greatest Moments" compilation of spoofs and disasters? Joan Blondell makes a cheerful girl-next-door heroine, although I couldn't help being distracted into mentally calculating backwards and working out that her days as a winsome child singer must surely have been before the introduction of talking pictures -- a vaudeville act perhaps? (One side effect of seeing this picture at the National Film Theatre was that the overheard protest "I starred in that role in the silent era!" resulted in an audience murmur of sympathy instead of a laugh at the aging actress' expense...)

    Overall the film is an unobjectionable comedy. But it's not the overlooked gem of Humphrey Bogart's -- or Leslie Howard's -- career that I had somewhat rashly been given to expect, and it's not especially funny.
  • "Stand-In" was shown by the BBC as part of a Bogart season. As someone else mentioned in another comment, that's odd to say the least: while billed third, Humphrey Bogart can't have more than 20 minutes in this movie. "Stand-In" is a comedy. I gather that from the IMDb info and from the collection of moments in the film when I'm supposed to have laughed. I can't say I did. Maybe once or twice. At most.

    Nevertheless, I'm glad the BBC showed this Bogart comedy and here's why. Even though the comedy bits may have been funny in 1937 (comedy standards tend to differ from era to era - although I can imagine people not being amused by this at the time either), "Stand-In" also spoofs the movie-making business. It's a bit better at that. They say imitation is a odd form of flattering. "Stand-In" both mocks and loves its subject. Atterbury Dodd is a mathematics-loving efficiency expert who has to investigate why Colossal Pictures is losing money instead of making it. He's the odd one out in town, learning that to every question there is but one answer: "This is the movie-making business." It's obvious from the start that Dodd will learn to respect and cherish the movie-making business, unlike most Hollywood films about the movie-making industry (which tend to treat Hollywood as a shark pool situated in either Sodom or Gomorrah). If you watch carefully, you will learn - just like Atterbury Dodd - that every movie you see is made by thousands of people you don't think about when you're in a darkened room (so always stay in your comfy seat till the credits are over, kids!).

    So while as a comedy, "Stand-In" sucks and as a movie about the movies it is interesting, the pivotal reason to see the movie is the combination of Leslie Howard (Dodd) and Joan Blondell (Miss Plum). Not only does she educate him about the movie business, she also triggers him in another way: just like Dodd slowly realizes movies are made by people (not units), Miss Plum makes him realize he is merely a calculator in a human form rather than a living creature. Combine that idea with a chemistry that works and you have a movie that is still very watchable, even if you don't feel like laughing.
  • For once Leslie Howard is the star of the movie.

    Unlike the producers of the DVD want you to think, Bogart is actually a supporting actor. But look at the cover - photo and cast lineup. You would think it is a Bogart movie. Frankly, that is why I bought it.

    Actually this movie is a Leslie Howard movie with Blondel as co-star. Bogart plays a secondary role and is a supporting actor.

    I was thinking of the only other Bogart / Howard movie I know of, Petrified Forest. So finally I find a bona-fide Leslie Howard movie.

    Of course I was biased but I loved it. My mother probably did too. She named me Leslie Howard (Spaiser).

    P.S. This picture was released 3 years before I was born.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the very same year that David O. Selznick produced the original official version of "A Star is Born", rival independent producer Walter Wanger had his own spoof of the world of moviemaking. Instead of being a tear-jerking drama, "Stand-In" is a light screwball comedy that has milquetoast Leslie Howard arriving in Hollywood at the request of the money men in New York to take control over studio head Humphrey Bogart who seems to be helping the studio lose profits. Howard is immediately accosted by starlets, hammy actors and stage mothers, and after encountering faded child star Joan Blondell who was hoping for a comeback past the bit parts she's been getting, Howard goes out of his way to take control, be coming in every business and personal aspects of running the studio.

    A well-written look at the financial business end of the movie business, this is memorable for its excellent performances by Howard and Blondell, a wacky look at Hollywood nightlife and the scandalous romantic goings-on of those behind the scenes. Alan Mowbray, playing a ham actor with a hysterically bad accent, Mari Shelton as Bogart's girlfriend, Jack Carson as a publicity guru (not much different than the part he played in the 1954 remake of A Star is Born"), and C. Henry Gordon as one of the New York money men are also memorable in smaller parts. But it's watching the milquetoast of Leslie Howard turn into a tiger and the zany antics of the fun-loving Blondell that keeps this together.
  • Tay Garnett was one of the better, now-forgotten directors. After studying at MIT and serving as a pilot in World War I, Garnet debuted in the film industry as a gagman, graduated to screenwriter and then a director competent and comfortable with any style of movies from comedy to drama to film noir to Westerns. Independent producer Walter Wanger hired Garnett to direct Stand-In, a combination screwball comedy and a satire of Hollywood. Wanger provided the director with two stunning costars, Leslie Howard and Joan Blondell, and a fine supporting cast, headed by Humphrey Bogart, Alan Mowbray and Jack Carson, and peopled with character actors such as Charles Middleton (Emperor Ming in the Flash Gordon chapter play), silent stars Tully Marshall and Mary MacLaren, and dependable regulars Esther Howard, J. C. Nugent and Olin Howland. It's a shame that Joan Blondell and Leslie Howard never made another comedy—indeed any kind of movie, because the two pros play off each other as brightly and snappily as Hepburn and Tracy, William Powell & Myrna Loy, or Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Ginger Rogers, James Stewart or Jean Arthur. Other reviewers have made clear the plot, and a couple have decried the rushed turnabout ending. Perhaps producer Wanger didn't want the film to run more than an hour and a half. Or maybe Tay Garnett took a hand in the adaptation of the novel and bent the story to the progressive politics of FDR's newly inaugurated second term. (Stand- In was adapted from a novel by politically conservative Clarence Budington Kelland.) In either case, Mr. Howard's reticent efficiency expert rescues Colossal Studios—not only for the bankers who hired him, but also more for the many workers who would lose their jobs at the studio in the middle of the Great Depression. Clever comedy actors and an experiences director put over a witty screenplay. Good fun, smart and snappy.
  • Financial wizard Leslie Howard (as Atterbury Dodd) is sent by New York bankers to save Hollywood's "Colossal" film studio, which is going bankrupt. Arriving in town, Mr. Howard picks up pretty blonde "Stand-In" and former child star Joan Blondell (as Lester Plum), on the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Stroking her tired feet and legs in the limousine, Ms. Blondell gives Howard his first lesson about movie-making. Appalled by the excesses at the studio and the audition of an underdressed Shirley Temple clone, Howard moves into Blondell's more down-to-earth boarding house...

    On the set, Howard becomes involved with "Sex and Satan" producer Humphrey Bogart (as Doug Quintain) and his amorous star Marla Shelton (as Thelma Cheri). There are obviously problems at the studio for Howard to solve, while dealing with romance. The satire isn't sharp enough, especially as the running time wears on, but "Stand-In" hits the mark fairly often. Given the subject matter, producer Walter Wanger and the studio take the opportunity to draw from a great supporting cast of character actors, former stars and bit players. This makes for many good moments.

    ****** Stand-In (10/29/37) Tay Garnett ~ Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell, Humphrey Bogart, Marla Shelton
  • Brilliant accountant Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) travels to Hollywood on behalf of his banker employees to oversee operations at struggling movie studio Colossal Pictures, which the bank owns. The bosses want to sell it off, but Dodd is intent on getting things back on track and profitable for all. He runs into trouble from a group of insiders who are trying to sabotage the company into bankruptcy, but Dodd gets some unlikely assistance from former child star Lester Plum (Joan Blondell).

    The unlikely duo of Leslie Howard and Joan Blondell turn out to be a great screen team, both amusing as contrasting personalities. Bogart plays an important character to the story, but it's not a very interesting role, and he personally brings the little flavor there is to it. I found the movie a funny, acerbic stab at the picture industry of the day.
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