Cukor’s first movie on the world of show business and its dazzling play of mirrors is also a parody of his friends the Barrymores, America’s first theatrical family. The grand finale sees the queen of the stage dying in the theater, surrounded by her offspring—including son Tony, just back from Europe, and daughter Julia, who takes over her mother’s role after the interval. Cukor claims that shooting the scene in which Freddie March is followed by his family up the big staircase was the “beginning of a breakthrough,” a discovery of how much more mobile his  unwieldy camera could be at a time when cranes were hand-operated.