A love story, portraying the dilemmas and inevitable consequences of ambition. It is a film about a woman’s fight for independence, a woman trying to succeed with her own art in the extremely competitive world of dance.
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The assistant stage manager of a small-time theatrical company (Polly Browne) is forced to understudy for the leading lady (Rita) at a matinée performance at which an illustrious Hollywood director (Cecil B. DeThrill) is in the audience scouting for actors to be in his latest “all-talking, all-dancing, all-singing” extravaganza.
Based on the successful 1956 Broadway production of the same name by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Jule Styne, the film focuses on Ella Peterson, who works in the basement office of Susanswerphone, a telephone answering service. Peterson, based on Mary Printz, who worked at Green’s service, listens in on others’ lives and adds some interest to her own humdrum existence by adopting different identities for her clients. They include an out-of-work Method actor, a dentist with musical yearnings, and in particular playwright Jeffrey Moss, who is suffering from writer’s block and desperately needs a muse.
When neighborhood kids begin vanishing, Jenny suspects her child psychologist husband, Carter, may be resuming the deranged experiments his father performed on Carter when he was young. Now, it falls to Jenny to unravel the mystery. And as more children disappear, she fears for her own child’s safety.