The Green Hat, 1925

The Green Hat, a play in four acts by Michael Arlen

Staged by Guthrie McClintic; produced by A.H. Woods
Broadhurst Theatre, New York, September 15, 1925

Cast of Characters

A Lady’s Maid Antoinette Parr
An English Reporter John Buckler
Manager of the Hotel Vendome Gustave Rolland
Dr. Conrad Masters A.P. Kaye
Gerald Havele March Paul Guilfoyle
Napier Harpender Leslie Howard
Major Gen. Harpender Eugene Powers
Hilary Townshend Gordon Ash
Iris Fenwick, nee March Katharine Cornell
Venice Pollen Margalo Gillmore
Lord De Travest John Redmond
A Lady Jane Saville
Turner Harry Lilford
Sister Virginia Gwyneth Gordon
Sister Clothilde Anne Tonetti
Madelaine Florence Foster
Truble Harry Barfoot

The try-out tour started from Detroit on March 30. During the try-out, the role of Venice Pollen was interpreted by Ann Harding, replaced by Margalo Gillmore since the Broadway première.

The play was adapted from Michael Arlen’s novel with the same title.


Mr. Howard is indisputably the man for Napier; Miss Harding surprises me by the rightness of her choice for Venice. As Iris March Katharine Cornell is superb, a glowing and a true performance. I suppose that she is remote from the outward seeming of that shameful shameless lady as she was imagined by Michael Arlen when he spun the tale–as remote, perhaps, as was Mrs. Fiskes’s Tess from the dull peasant girl of Hardy’s imaginings. And you can’t think how little that matters, how little it matters when the actress understand in Iris March and has a voice for her gallantry and the ache of her hungry heart.
(Alexander Woollcott, NY Sun, April 25, 1925 – The Green Hat in Chicago)

Much ado about the acting will have to wait until another day. The cast is lucky in the membership of Katharine Cornell and Margalo Gillmore. Great things had been told of Miss Cornell’s capacity for glorifying the tragedy during its preliminary travels. She does, indeed, throw all her seductiveness and grace of vocal and bodily ways into the part. But now and then the blurs of an obvious embarrassment come along, and she resigns herself to frankly artificial contrivances.
The one justly and deeply moving half-moment in the play belongs to Miss Gillmore, when the sob-ridden Venice makes the best of the elopement. Leslie Howard shambles earnestly and amorously through the part of the much-loved-against Napier.
(Gilbert W. Gabriel, The Sun, September 16, 1925)

[Katharine Cornell’s] performance was a vibrant one, teeming with emotion that was always just suppressed and expressed in a voice of strange, haunting timbre. Miss Cornell is perfectly cast in this part. The sympathy that Iris March summoned from the audience was a tribute chiefly to her acting. She is well supported by a cast of excellent actors. […]
Although novels do not always walk on to the stage without leaving a vast deal of baggage in the wings, “The Green Hat” seems to have become a play without losing much of the original romance. Iris March and her neurotic brother, Gerald, are both here, represented in the essential incidents. And, as one of the lines puts it, “the Marches are let off from nothing.” Napier Harpender, who always loved Iris, is also here, ably played by Leslie Howard; and his father, too, facing Iris more than once. Hilary Townshend, played by Gordon Ash, runs through the drama as a sort of moral standard against which the various incidents are measured. He, it appears, is rather more tho the play than to the novel. And, finally, the wistful Venice Pollen is here, bewildered and generous, acted appealingly by Margalo Gillmore. Thus, none of the chief characters of the novel is missing, save the “first person singular,” who originally told the story. That purely technical part could scarcely be represented on the stage.
(The New York Times, September 16, 1925)

Katharine Cornell is the lady of the green hat. She cannot do with the role what Ethel Barrymore would have done 10 years ago or what she would do today, for that matter. But she brings poignancy to it, a great and mysterious beauty (when she has her hat on), precision and understanding. Ethel Barrymore could
have made this Iris at once gayer and more sad; Miss Cornell, however, plays with its emotions better than she has ever played before. Leslie Howard is exactly right in the role of Napier, who loves her, the only member of the cast who is exactly right. There is satisfactory work by Paul Guilfoyle and A.P. Kaye. It Is a good cast Mr. Woods has given the play and the players put bite into their work.
(Arthur Pollock, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 16, 1925)

Let me remark that the work contributed by Katharine Cornell was quite wonderful, and even more eccentric [than Michael Arlen]. She did not make Irish March the type that the book intended her to be. This was an oriental siren, a sort of unabashed messalina, and the languorous make-up, the drawling intonation and the quaint poses–all suggested the orient at its biterest.
Miss Cornell shelved the conventionalities. Even her accent was queer.She spoke of “Napier” as “Nap-yurr-r”–with burrs everywhere–and her voice was a husky contralto. But throughout her work was splendid. She made the play. Without her it might have swooned into nothing. As it was, it lived and pulsated.
All the cast were admirable. Leslie Howard gave exactly the right value to his curious Armand Duval, and Margalo Gillmore was a most fascinating Venice.
(Alan Dale, Buffalo Courier, September 20, 1925)


Leslie Howard in The Green Hat
The Green Hat
 Leslie Howard in The Green Hat, 1925

Cornell in Green Hat

Katharine Cornell in The Green Hat

Cornell Green Hat

Katharine Cornell in The Green Hat


The Green Hat

Leslie Howard and Katharine Cornell in The Green Hat

The Green Hat

Margalo Gillmore and Leslie Howard in The Green Hat

The Green Hat

Leslie Howard and Katharine Cornell in The Green Hat