Lady for a Day asks the spectator to believe in the improbable. It’s Hans Christian Andersen stuff written by a hard-boiled journalist and transferred to the screen by trick-wise Hollywoodites. While not stinting a full measure of credit to director Frank Capra, it seems as if the spotlight of recognition ought to play rather strongly on scriptwriter Robert Riskin [adapting Damon Runyon’s story Madame La Gimp].
On the performance end, May Robson dominates the first reel but is thereafter rather subordinated as the story gets into the comedy side-plots.
Actually in a well-balanced, smartly-directed cast like this it’s hard to split the posies. Even in a small role as a nite-club hostess Glenda Farrell looks great. There are half a dozen bits, including a superbly ironic English butler that ought really to get a shoulder pat. Warren William is the superstitious gambler for whom Apple Annie is a good luck omen. It is he who stage manages the gigantic make-believe whereby the shoddy peddler of apples becomes a ‘lady for a day’, to preserve her finely-reared daughter’s illusions that her mother is a society somebody.
1932/33: Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (May Robson), Adaptation