Quality Street

Overview

Previously filmed with Marion Davies in 1927, the lightweight James M. Barrie play Quality Street proved an ideal vehicle for Katharine Hepburn ten years later. The setting of the Barrie original was switched from 1805 Scotland to 1815 Regency England, to avoid a preponderance of brogues and to take advantage of the latter era's more attractive costumes. Candid home movies taken on the set indicate that this sumptuous production might have been even more resplendent in Technicolor. Because she's nearly 30 and ...
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Overview

Previously filmed with Marion Davies in 1927, the lightweight James M. Barrie play Quality Street proved an ideal vehicle for Katharine Hepburn ten years later. The setting of the Barrie original was switched from 1805 Scotland to 1815 Regency England, to avoid a preponderance of brogues and to take advantage of the latter era's more attractive costumes. Candid home movies taken on the set indicate that this sumptuous production might have been even more resplendent in Technicolor. Because she's nearly 30 and still unwed, Phoebe Throssel Hepburn is regarded as an over-the-hill spinster. Thus, when offered the opportunity for a reunion with Captain Brown Franchot Tone, whom she hasn't seen in years, Phoebe desperately wants to rekindle his affections. To this end, she poses as her own teenaged niece -- and pulls off the ruse beautifully. Alas, despite Katharine Hepburn's wonderful performance and George Stevens' sensitive direction, Quality Street posted a loss of 248,000 dollars, further convincing movie exhibitors that Hepburn was "box office poison." Notably, one of the supporting players is an 18-year-old Joan Fontaine, making her first appearance under her RKO Radio contract.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Quality Street is drawn from a play by J.M. Barrie, for whom lightness and whimsicality are bywords. Playing Barrie can be a difficult task, especially if, unlike his Peter Pan, the material is not set in a make-believe world. Finding the right balance between reality and artifice takes quite a bit of doing, and is even more difficult to achieve onscreen than on-stage. This adaptation takes a much too direct approach, starting with the casting of the no-nonsense Katharine Hepburn in a role that requires an actress whose strength is more subtly presented. Hepburn isn't bad, but she tries too hard in places and seems a little at sea in others. That she often succeeds in spite of this is tribute to her considerable talent and skill, and there are quite a few moments where she pulls great laughs from the viewer, almost by sheer force of will. Even if not ideally cast, she is fascinating and fun to watch. Franchot Tone is a bit bland, though he looks quite good and is certainly believable. Fay Bainter and Joan Fontaine are similarly wan, but satisfactory. Much better is the physical production, with sets, costumes and photography that are a joy. If Quality falls a little short of the mark overall, it's still a very pleasant diversion.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/20/2009
  • UPC: 883316140260
  • Original Release: 1937
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Time: 1:24:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Katharine Hepburn Phoebe Throssel
Franchot Tone Dr. Valentine Brown
Eric Blore Recruiting Sergeant
Fay Bainter Susan Throssel
Cora Witherspoon Patty the Maid
Joan Fontaine Charlotte Parratt
Estelle Winwood Mary Willoughby
Florence Lake Henrietta Turnbull
Bonita Granville Isabella
Clifford Severn Arthur
Sherwood Bailey William Smith
Roland Varno Ens. Blades
William Bakewell Lieutenant Spicer
Helena Grant Fanny Willoughby
Carmencita Johnson Student
Yorke Sherwood Postman
Sidney Toler
Technical Credits
George Stevens Director
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Harry Berman Editor
Mel Burns Makeup
Robert de Grasse Cinematographer
George D. Ellis Sound/Sound Designer
Hobe Erwin Art Director, Set Decoration/Design
Mortimer Offner Screenwriter
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Van Nest Polglase Art Director
Allan Scott Screenwriter
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Roy Webb Score Composer
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