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Stuffy, bookish Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) goes from Wall Street's balance sheets to Hollywood's scandal sheets in this rollicking look at Tinseltown's heyday! Sent to take over the reins of floundering Colossal Studios, Dodd finds the film community eyeing him with thinly-veiled amusement. Uncovering a conspiracy to scuttle the studio, he enlists the aid of an unlikely pair of allies: cynical, gin-soaked, and big-hearted producer Douglas Quintain ("Casablanca's" Humphrey Bogart) and Lester Plum ("Grease's" Joan Blondell), the sexy stand-in for an incredibly untalented screen siren!
Humphrey Bogart takes a rare stab at comedy in the show-biz screwball comedy Stand-In. But though Bogart demonstrates his effortless star power, Leslie Howard (best known as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind) turns in a marvelous comic performance as a finicky mathematical whiz named Atterbury Dodd, who's sent by a bank to decide whether a Hollywood studio should be salvaged or shut down. Assaulted by social parasites and stage mothers upon his arrival in Tinseltown, Dodd must take refuge in a flophouse filled with has-beens, never-weres, and a trained seal--among them a former child star (Joan Blondell) whose only job now is as a stand-in for an overrated glamour queen. Between Blondell and Bogart (playing a bitter producer), Dodd gets some lessons in show-biz economics. The movie's ending is dopey, but it's a lot of fun along the way. --Bret Fetzer
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Top customer reviews
Leslie Howard plays the representative of a Bank who is sent to take charge of a Hollywood studio, to prevent it from being sold for less than it is worth (to an unscrupulous tycoon, impersonated by C. Henry Gordon), there he meets by chance, wisecracking and experienced Stand-In, Joan Blondell, ex-child star (a "has-been"). Howard's very good at numbers, financial figures, etc. but is a complete disaster to face "the real facts of life"...there comes Blondell, to "open his eyes".
Fine acting by Humphrey Bogart as a tough producer in love with a phony star (Marla Shelton). Alan Mowbray is great as another phony, a "temperamental" european director and Jack Carson is usually right as a fast-talking wise-guy.
An unknown gem, that made me laugh a lot, 'cos Leslie Howard is really very good at comedy and makes (oddly enough) an excellent match with Ms. Blondell. Fine Comedy.
Very funny situations and swiftly paced. Completely recommended viewing, for old movie fans and film-buffs in general.
When the action starts (and there's plenty of it), lawyer/efficiency expert/accountant Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) dares his cranky old boss Fowler Pettypacker (Tully Marshall) that he can save Colossal Studios so that Pettypacker's firm can realize the studio's full economic potential. Pettypacker would much rather get rid of the studio for 5 million dollars by selling it to a real snake in the grass, Nassau (C. Henry Gordon), who wants Colossal merely to make it another one of his financial conquests--by shutting it down! (I know, the way Nassau will make money off this is vague; but this is Hollywood.) Pettypacker tells Atterbury to go out and save Colossal if Atterbury truly thinks it's possible--but if Atterbury fails, he's not to come back!
And wow, when Atterbury gets to Hollywood and Colossal Studios, is he in for a shock! He's never seen anything like Hollywood; the actors, producers, directors and others with their quirks and emotional problems surprise him, too. Atterbury has his own quirks; he has spent his whole life with his head in a book and it seems nearly hopeless at first--until, that is, he meets by chance a child star who is now a stand in, Lester Plum (Joan Blondell). Lester tells Atterbury as much as she can about Hollywood and she even becomes his secretary.
Atterbury also meets neurotic/alcoholic director Quintain (Humphrey Bogart) who is producing what has GOT to be the worst movie ever, "$ex and Satan." Behind Quintain's back, the star of the film and the woman Quintain loves although she's engaged to another, Cheri (Marla Shelton) is plotting along with Nassau to make Colossal go so far down the tubes that Pettypacker will practically have to sell Colossal to Nassau. Film director Koslofski (Alan Mowbray) is also in on the plot and it doesn't help that publicity agent/professional jacka** Tom Potts (Jack Carson) doesn't care what happens to Colossal.
Can Colossal be saved and how? There's so much more to the plot and I won't tell you more so you can watch and enjoy this film as much as I did! Suffice it to say that the rest of the film shows how everything plays out.
Look also for solid performances by J.C. Nugent as Junior Pettypacker and William V. Mong as Cyrus Pettypacker. Pat Flaherty has a brief cameo as a nightclub bouncer.
Stand In is an absolute must for fans of the actors in it. People who enjoy films about Hollywood with drama, romance and even some comedy would do well to add this to their collections.
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