St. Martin's Lane, also known as Sidewalks of London (October 18, 1938)
Released on October 18, 1938: A middle aged street performer takes in a homeless teen girl and teaches her to dance and sing with him on the sidewalks of London, and when she becomes a famous stage actress he becomes a homeless drunk.
Produced by Charles Laughton and Erich Prommer
Directed by Tim Whelan
Written by Bartlett Cormack, Clemence Dane, Charles Laughton, Erich Pommer and Tim Wheland.
The Actors: Charles Laughton (Charles Staggers), Vivien Leigh (Liberty, aka Libby), Rex Harrison (Harley Prentiss), Larry Adler (Constantine Dan), Tyrone-Guthrie (Gentry, a busker), Maire O'Neill (Mrs. Such), Gus McNaughton (Arthur Smith, a busker), Polly Ward (Frankie), Basil Gill (Magistrate), Helen Haye (Selina), David Burns (Hackett), Phyllis Stanley (Della), Edward Lexy (Mr. Such), Clare Greet (old Maud), Alf Goddard (Doggie), Cyril Smith (black face), Romilly Lunge (Jan Duchesi), Carroll Gibbons (himself, orchestra leader), Clifford Buckton (man outside theater), Bartlett Cormack (Strang), Edie Martin (Libby's dresser), Ronald Shiner (barman), John Singer (autograph hunter), Jerry Verno (drunk)
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The Busker and the Lady
When you team Charles Laughton, Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison in one movie, you know it will be an outstanding adventure in cinema. This film with excite all of your emotions, like every great film does. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall in love again, and you'll enjoy every moment on the streets of London with the buskers and the theater stars. ('Busker' is a British term for street performer. In 1938 London people would line up outside the large theaters waiting for the doors to open, and while waiting street performers would play music and entertain in almost every way possible for the reward of applause and pocket change.)
As our story opens we see a young Charles Laughton on the sidewalks of London giving a dramatic performance for the passersby that have gathered, hoping for a few loose coins tossed into his hat that lies at his foot. When a kindly passerby drops a coin into his hat, a young 18 year old homeless girl (Vivien Leigh) spots it and saunters over and quickly steals the coin. Charles yells at her as she runs off, but finishes his performance and collects the coins from the standing group of his street audience. Later, in a street-side coffee shop Charles spots Liberty, the young girl, talking with wealthy theater star Harley Prentiss (Rex Harrison). As they are talking, Liberty steals Prentiss' expensive cigarette case that is laying on the counter and runs off. Charles sees it and chases after her. This leads to that, and she stays in Charles' flat for the night, and the next morning Charles takes the stolen cigarette case to the police claiming that he found it on the street. Liberty arranges to stay with Charles' landlady downstairs, and she becomes part of his busker street act and they seem to have a great attraction for each other. But then one day Prentiss arrives to thank Charles for the return of his cigarette case and give him a reward. This leads to that, and Prentiss takes an interest in their street act, and especially the young and beautiful Liberty. Once more, this leads to that and Prentiss offers Liberty a career on the theater stage. Liberty jumps at the chance, and tosses Charles to the curb, breaking his heart, and sending him into a drunken funk, giving up his street performances and disappearing into the streets of London for parts unknown. Liberty becomes the toast of London, and girlfriend of Prentiss, gaining all of the fame and fortune that her gold-digging little heart could have imagined. Later on Libby gets a touch of nostalgia and searches for Charles, to no avail. But one day she bumps into a blind beggar on the sidewalk, and lo and behold, it is Charles. . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.
Vivien Leigh and Charles Laughton
Edward Lexy, Maire O'Neill and Charles Laughton
Gus McNaughton and Charles Laughton
Miare O'Neill and Charles Laughton
Rex Harrison, Maire O'Neill and Charles Laughton
Rex Harrison and Vivien Leigh
Tyrone Guthrie and Gus McNaughton
Tyrone Guthrie, Vivien Leigh and Charles Laughton
Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison
Vivien Leigh kisses Rex Harrison
Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison