A Glass of Water Illuminates the World

I’m loving this — no writing to do, just intros. I’ll be back at the weekend and have some good stuff saved up, I like to think. Meanwhile, here’s Phoebe Green on an unlikely economy drive at Warner Bros —


Dorothy Parker, legend has it, explained a late submission to the New Yorker with “Someone else was using the pencil.” A similarly rigorous economy seems to have reigned on the set of 42nd Street, where a simple but recognizable water glass reappears throughout, to the delight of cognoscenti:


Ruby Keeler has collapsed! But is rehydrated in the arms of George Brent. The Glass makes its début.


The latter, sly dog, takes Ruby back to his bachelor pad. In the kitchen, he sniffs his boutonnière for freshness, decides it will do for another day, and puts it in the refrigerator in The Glass.


Louise Beavers, the hardest-working woman in an apron in show business, gives Bebe Daniels congratulations — and a drink from The Glass.


Now we’re in Philadelphia! Not to worry, The Glass is there at bedside for George Brent in his barebones stock-player’s hotel …


… but also, within a minute of screen time, in the luxurious ambiance of Warner Baxter’s suite. What range, The Glass!


Center screen, between Warner Baxter and Ruby Keeler, The Glass makes its last, iconic appearance.

A friend of mine, alerted to this phenomenon, dubbed it “endearingly Warner Brothers” and hypothesized that the WB props department contained only ONE of each item. A hypothesis substantiated by the penultimate scene of Blessed Event, in which Jack La Rue, under arrest, is not handcuffed, but simply gripped by the sleeve:


Someone else was using the darbies.

© Phoebe Green

12 Responses to “A Glass of Water Illuminates the World”

  1. HAHAHAHA! I’ve seen 42nd Street so many times but I’ve never noticed “The Glass” before! Next time I watch, I’ll be looking out for it ;) It should have been included on the cast list.

  2. It would be nice to be able to make a blogney (https://dcairns.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/blogney-bombshell/) out of George Brent and the glass of water.

  3. david wingrove Says:

    MGM would have got Cedric Gibbons to design a special glass of water for every scene. Then the would have made sure the set was flooded with light so the audience could see and admire it!

  4. 42nd Street was my first exposure to Berkeley as a child. I recall the romance of I Only Have Eyes for You affected me deeply, whereas now my enjoyment is more ironic.

  5. As I look at this incredible glass, I keep thinking of the newspaper(s) in HORROR OF PARTY BEACH. The banner headlines keep changing throughout the movie, but the story just above the fold in every edition is “Menagerie Breaks Loose– New York In Panic.”

  6. Haha! “More on that story tomorrow!”

  7. Are you sure it’s the same glass? Maybe the prop department got a case or two of identical water glasses from a restaurant supply house or a closed diner.

    Speaking of newspapers, there are threads at IN THE BALCONY and NITRATEVILLE dedicated to the headline “110,000 CHINESE LIVING IN TREES AS RESULT OF FLOOD.” Apparently as big as the Warner glass, regularly cropping up in movies and TV shows for ages.

  8. My guess: it’d be the same glass until Butterfingers Keeler broke it, then they’d go to the case (the glassware equivalent of Central Casting) for a replacement.

    Ha, I’d forgotten that headline — I don’t think I’ve ever spotted it in an actual film.

  9. This is almost as much fun as Bess Flowers spotting!

  10. That glass deserves an award for all its appearances.

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