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Stage Door Canteen

Stage Door Canteen
File:Stage Door Canteen poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Borzage
Produced by Frank Borzage
Sol Lesser
Written by Delmer Daves
Starring Cheryl Walker
William Terry
Marjorie Riordan
Lon McCallister
Margaret Early
Music by James Monaco
Fred Rich
Richard Rodgers
Cinematography Harry Wild
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • June 24, 1943 (1943-06-24)
Running time
132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4,350,000 (US/Canada rentals) [1][2]

Stage Door Canteen (1943) is a musical film produced by Sol Lesser Productions and distributed by United Artists. It was directed by Frank Borzage and features many cameo appearances by celebrities. The majority of the film is a filmed concert although there is also a storyline to the film. Black producer Leonard Harper was hired to do the African-American casting in New York City.

Stage Door Canteen is in the public domain in North America and for this reason is widely available in many DVD and VHS releases of varying quality.

Background and production

The film, made in wartime, celebrates the work of the Stage Door Canteen, created in New York City as a recreational center for both American and Allied servicemen on leave to socialize with, be entertained or served by theatrical celebrities. It was made under the auspices of The American Theatre Wing.

The real Stage Door Canteen was a basement club located in the 44th Street Theatre in New York City.[3] It could not be used for the filming as it was too busy receiving real servicemen. It was recreated in New York and at the RKO Radio Pictures studio in Culver City. There also was a Stage Door Canteen in the Academy of Music Building in Philadelphia.

The West Coast counterpart was the Hollywood Canteen that was also celebrated in a film Hollywood Canteen.[4]


The storyline of the film follows several women who volunteer for the Canteen and who must adhere to strict rules of conduct, the most important of which is that while their job is to provide friendly companionship to and be dance partners for the (often nervous) men who are soon to be sent into combat, no romantic fraternization is allowed. One volunteer who confesses to only becoming involved in the Canteen in order to be discovered by one of the Hollywood stars in attendance, ultimately finds herself falling in love with one of the soldiers.

Star appearances range from momentary cameos, such as Johnny Weissmuller, seen working in the canteen's kitchen, to more substantial roles such as Katharine Hepburn, who helps advance the plot.

Most of the cameos were filmed at the studio, but a number of spots -- Benny Goodman's, for example -- were filmed in New York City.

Cameos (alphabetical order)

Katharine Hepburn in trailer for Stage Door Canteen
Kenny Baker in trailer for the film
Ethel Merman in the trailer for the film

(featured performer) means either they performed a number or a comedy bit+ or had extended dialogue in the plot++

Orchestras: (all featured performers)


The film made an estimated profit of $2.5 million.[5]


  1. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  2. ^ Balio, Tino (2009). United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-23004-3.  p189
  3. ^ "44th Street Theatre". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  4. ^ Everett Aaker, The Films of George Raft, McFarland & Company, 2013 p 106
  5. ^ MONOGRAM BIDS FOR THE BIG LEAGUE: Sets $500,000 Budget, a Studio Record, for One Film -- Other Items By FRED STANLEYHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Sep 1943: X3

External links