Ginger Rogers, Walter Connolly, Franklin Pangborn. Dir: Gregory LaCava
It’s difficult to write about a Ginger Rogers film without saying she’s my idol, so I won’t. I mean, I will write about the film and I will say she’s my idol. She’s my idol. If you don’t know much about her, pull up a chair. Most people think of her as the word that goes after “Fred and” but her dancing is nowhere near the top of the list of things that make her awesome.
Let’s take this bullet-point by bullet-point.
- She’s the queen of wisecracks. Some might say Eve Arden is, but Eve Arden is the queen of sarcastic quips. This is different.
- She has great chemistry with literally every person onscreen with her. From Fred Astaire, to David Niven, to James Stewart, to Cary Grant, who played love interests for her, to Frank Albertson, to Frances Mercer, to a military school full of teenage boys, who were more or less antagonists to her, the relationships and situations were all believable. Well, as believable as they could be given the nature of comedy.
- Her mom played her mom in The Major and the Minor. That’s more something that’s cool about her mom, but if your mom’s cool, you’re probably going to be cool too.
- She was one of the two contenders in the greatest fight scene ever filmed.
- She could do this:
I think it would have been good of me to talk about the movie first, but Ginger Rogers’ name appears before the title when you watch it, so I can talk about her first if I want.
That said, I will now talk about the movie.
It’s about a rich businessman (Walter Connolly) who has a wife and two adult children living with him in his giant mansion. It’s his birthday and his secretary remembers but when he gets home, only his butler (Franklin Pangborn) is there to greet him with the news that his entire family is engaged in different directions for the evening. He decides to go for a walk in Central Park, where he meets a young woman (Ginger Rogers) who is out of work and eating her dinner while watching the seals. He enlists her to help him celebrate his birthday at a fancy restaurant, and the next day he hires her to hang around in order to insinuate that he’s having an affair. That’s all I’m going to tell you; you’ll have to see it to find out the rest. Suffice to say, it’s a funny film with a good cast.
Now I’m going to talk about Walter Connolly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in something I didn’t like. If you’ve watched enough classic film, you may recognize his face. You might even know his name already. His most famous role was as Claudette Colbert’s father in It Happened One Night. He also played Myrna Loy’s father in Libeled Lady. He usually plays someone who talks straight, but he’s not above subterfuge in this film to get what he wants, which is his family. This is his penultimate film, dying just a year later of a stroke at age 53.
I must also make mention of Franklin Pangborn. He was a character actor who typically played someone very proper and judgey, often having to enforce rules of etiquette or a business, and was usually made a fool of. He was a favorite of Preston Sturges, who cast him in many of his films. Sturges liked to draw from a small stable of actors for his films, with Pangborn being among them. He was also in my favorite Ginger Rogers film, Vivacious Lady, in which he had to make sure that she observed the boarding house’s rules regarding visitors. His last film was 28 years later, The Story of Mankind, a not good film which was also the final film of Ronald Colman, the last one to feature the three famous Marx Brothers, and the final American film of Hedy Lamarr. In 1978, it was featured in a book called The 50 Worst Films of All Time. I suspect if that list were to be revised, however, that it would not make it anywhere near the top 50.
Oh yeah, the movie. It also features Verree Teasdale and Tim Holt, but that’s neither here nor there. Of note, however, is a brief appearance by Jack Carson. It’s not without its flaws, but highlighting them is not what I’m here for. I love it, so you should like it well enough.