Archive for May 31, 2021

Ginger’s Got a Knife

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2021 by dcairns

PRIMROSE PATH and 5TH AVENUE GIRL.

Gregory La Cava evidently thought a knife-wielding Ginger Rogers was good box office.

I recommend this double-feature. Neither film has a huge reputation but both are miraculous in their imperfection. Rogers’ low-key performances are remarkable. We like her when she’s zesty but she could do this stuff too — and the decision to do this kind of material — respectively, a social-realist melo with one-liners, and an odd sort of screwball — the plot of MY MAN GODFREY revised — in a low-affect, subdued manner — is striking.

La Cava does tend to have difficulty with endings, and I think it’s probably because his improvisatory approach, combined perhaps with his drinking, caused him to fumble the emotional throughline. The looseness and naturalism make that a worthwhile trade-off.

In the case of these two, Tim Holt is too much the proto George Amberson Minafer to be redeemed as a romantic interest, though this comes off better at the fade-out than it looks like it’s going to five minutes before the fade-out — there’s a little detail of a bit-player fumbling with a prop which seems genuinely accidental and made me howl — and in PRIMROSE, Glaswegian character actor Queenie Vassar (that name!) manages to make her malign granny character utterly irredeemable and highly compelling, but this is a problem since the last scene has to partway redeem her.

Nevertheless — see these movies! I keep seeing them. So I have more here.