The Stork Club (film)

The Stork Club is a 1945 American musical comedy film directed by Hal Walker and starring Betty Hutton.

The Stork Club
Film poster
Directed byHal Walker
Produced byHarold Wilson (associate producer)
Buddy G. DeSylva (producer)
Written byBuddy G. DeSylva and
Jack McGowan
StarringBetty Hutton
Barry Fitzgerald
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byGladys Carley
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
December 19, 1945 (1945-12-19)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4 million+[1] or $3.2 million (US rentals)[2]

Plot summary

Judy Peabody (Betty Hutton) is a hat-check girl at New York's popular Stork Club nightclub. Her dreams are for her bandleader boyfriend Danny (Don DeFore) to return home from the Marines, and to sing with his band.

While sunbathing on a dock, Judy saves an elderly man (Barry Fitzgerald) from drowning. She assumes from his disheveled appearance and folksy demeanor that he is poor, and calls him "Pop". She gives him her name and tells him where she works, and encourages him to contact her if he ever needs help again.

Unbeknownst to her, the man is the wealthy Jerry Bates, whom his lawyer Curtis (Robert Benchley) refers to as "J.B." Bates instructs Curtis to anonymously reward Judy with everything her heart desires. Curtis sends a letter to Judy at the Stork Club, informing her she now has a new luxury apartment, and a line of credit at a prestigious department store, with no strings attached.

Bates, donning shabby clothes to conceal his wealth, visits Judy at the club. Assuming he is unemployed, she convinces the maitre d' to hire him as a busboy, a position Bates quickly sabotages.

Bates returns to the club to see Judy receive the letter. She promptly goes on a shopping spree, buying dresses and furs without knowing her benefactor's identity.

Assuming Bates is homeless, Judy offers him a room in her new apartment—and Bates, who has formed a fatherly attachment to her, and whose wife has recently left him, accepts.

Danny arrives home with plans to form a new band of top-flight musicians. He is excited to see Judy, until he sees her luxurious apartment and clothes and suspects she has become a "kept woman" in his absence. When he sees Bates at Judy's apartment, he believes his suspicions have been confirmed and breaks up with her.

Danny finds out Judy has rented the other apartment on her floor for his band, he becomes cool to her. Judy continues to invest in Danny's band by buying new clothes for them using Bates' money. Bates is upset and wants to reign in her spending and asks his lawyer Curtis to tell her who he is. Curtis refuses, but Bates catches Curtis in the hallway to tell Curtis he works for him. Curtis begins to tell him he won't lose much, about $200,000 to $300,000, and not to mention the Gift Tax of 30% of any gift over $3,000. Bates replies, "Coolidge. Oh, for a Coolidge" harking back to days of the Roaring Twenties when President Calvin Coolidge cut both taxes and federal spending to boost America's economy.

Danny meets with an agent but has trouble finding work for his new band. Judy phones Sherman Billingsley (Bill Goodwin), the Stork Club's powerful but generous owner, and posing as gossip columnist Walter Winchell, tells him about a fantastic new band he must hear. Billingsley arrives at the apartment, where Danny's tuxedoed band and Judy perform brilliantly for him. Billingsley offers them a job at the club, then tells Judy: "By the way, I'd know your voice anywhere—and I was having lunch with Winchell when you called."

When Judy meets Bates's estranged wife, she finally learns that Bates is responsible for her new riches. Seeking to return his kindness, she engineers a reconciliation between them.

Meanwhile, Danny confronts Curtis and learns the truth about Judy's benefactor. Realizing she has been true to him, Danny apologizes to her—on the bandstand, during a song—and they are reunited.




  1. Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 18 Oct 1949: 26.
  2. "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety, January 8, 1947, p. 8
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