WriterJack Davies, Michael Pertwee Release date12 May 1952 (1952-05-12) (UK) Based onplay by Philip King CastRobert Morley, Margaret Rutherford, Kay Kendall, Michael Medwin Similar moviesNational Theatre Live: The Habit of Art, National Theatre Live: Hamlet, National Theatre Live: Everyman, National Theatre Live: Man and Superman, National Theatre Live: Coriolanus, National Theatre Live: John
Curtain Up is a 1952 British film directed by Ralph Smart, written by Jack Davies and Michael Pertwee. It is based on the play On Monday Next by Philip King.
In an English provincial town, 'Drossmouth', a second-rate repertory company assemble at the Theatre Royal on Monday morning to rehearse the following week's play, a melodrama titled Tarnished Gold.
Harry, their irascible Producer, is highly critical of the play, which has been foisted on him by the Directors of the Company and is unenthusiastic about its prospects. The cast include Jerry, a young and sometimes keen actor, Maud, an widowed actress who was once famous on the West End stage, Sandra, who is waiting for (and receives) a call from a London producer, her philandering and semi-alcoholic husband, and Avis, a timid young girl who is quickly realising that acting is not for her.
The cast are equally unenthusiastic of the play. Little progress is made. 'Jacko', the Stage Director, is at his wits end and threatens to resign, his regular habit when things go wrong. Just as matters seemingly cannot get worse, the author of the play, Catherine Beckwith, appears and insists on 'sitting at the feet' of the Director.
She and Harry are quickly at each other throats. Harry tears up most of Act 1, and storms angrily off stage, falling into the pit and injuring himself. Despite the forebodings of the cast, Miss Beckwith insists on taking over the rehearsal according to her own ideas. She recasts the play as a period piece and introduces new stage techniques.
A week later, to everyone's surprise, the curtain comes down on a triumphant first night.
Robert Morley, W.H. 'Harry' Derwent Blacker
Margaret Rutherford, Catherine Beckwith / Jeremy St. Claire
Kay Kendall, Sandra Beverley
Michael Medwin, Jerry Winterton
Olive Sloane, Maud Baron
Liam Gaffney, Norwood Beverley
Lloyd Lamble, Jackson
Charlotte Mitchell, Daphne Ray
Constance Lorne, Sarah Stebbins
Maggie Hanley, Mary (as Margaret Avery)
Stringer Davis, Vicar
Joan Hickson, Harry's Landlady
John Cazabon, Mr Stebbins
Diana Calderwood, Set Painter
Joan Rice, Avis
The New York Times wrote, "the provincial repertory company gets a gentle and mildly whacky going-over in "Curtain Up," the British import that began a stand at the Sixtieth Street Trans-Lux on Saturday. It has such assets as Robert Morley and Margaret Rutherford, who easily manage to be quite superior to the threadbare situations in which they are involved, and it has the glaring deficit of being static for lengthy periods. With "Curtain Up," the actors have the opportunity of delivering some humorous lines here and there, but not too much else."
Allmovie noted "the delectable Kay Kendall provides a few sublime moments as the velvet-voiced leading lady."