Stand-In: Tay Garnett’s Inside-Hollywood Satire, Starring Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell and Bogart.

Tay Garnett directed Stand-In, an Inside Hollywood satire, starring Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell and Bogart.

The picture was produced by the independent Walter Wanger, and released by United Artists.

It is set in Hollywood and parodies many aspects of the film industry.

During the Great Depression, Fowler Pettypacker, a Wall Street banker, is debating whether or not to accept an offer from Ivor Nassau to buy “Colossal Pictures,” a fictional film studio on Poverty Row. The studio has not been turning a profit, but financial analyst Atterbury Dodd advises against selling. He stakes his reputation on his mathematical calculations that show Colossal should turn a profit. The bank sends Dodd to Hollywood as the new head of the studio.

Colossal’s star actress, Thelma Cheri, eccentric foreign director Koslofski, and press agent Tom Potts are conspiring with Nassau to sabotage the studio. They are deliberately running up costs on producer Douglas Quintain’s jungle feature, Sex and Satan so that the film flops and the studio goes bankrupt.

In Hollywood, Dodd meets Lester Plum, a former child star now working as stand-in for Cheri. Lester teaches Dodd about the filmmaking business and eventually becomes his secretary.

Under Lester’s tutelage, Dodd realizes that the workers are more than just numbers. Lester falls in love with Dodd, but he is oblivious to her.

Dodd is unimpressed by a viewing of Sex and Satan, and Koslofski puts the blame on Quintain. Quintain had discovered Cheri and made her a star, falling in love with her in the process, but she sides with Koslofski.

As a result, Dodd fires Quintain. After an audience preview confirms the film is awful (they prefer the ape over Cheri’s performance), Dodd seeks out the heartbroken producer.

Sobering up from his drunken binge, Quintain comes up with the idea to salvage the film by cutting down Cheri’s part and expanding the ape’s. However, before that, Pettypacker calls Dodd, informing him that he has sold the studio to Nassau, and that Dodd is fired.

In the happy ending, Dodd convinces the initially hostile workers into rallying behind him to finish the film, and then, he asks Plum to marry him.

The film recorded a very small profit of $9,274.

Leslie Howard as Atterbury Dodd
Joan Blondell as Lester Plum
Humphrey Bogart as Doug Quintain
Alan Mowbray as Koslofski
Marla Shelton as Thelma Cheri
C. Henry Gordon as Ivor Nassau
Jack Carson as Tom Potts
Tully Marshall as Fowler Pettypacker
J. C. Nugent as Junior Pettypacker
William V. Mong as Cyrus Pettypacker
Rita Hayworth in a bit part