Archive for Ginger Rogers

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.

Ginger Rogers While Rome Burns

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on April 30, 2020 by dcairns

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I wish somebody had cast Ginger Rogers as the Empress Poppaea in a Roman epic so the marquees could scream, GINGER ROGERS WHILE ROME BURNS, but they didn’t, so we shall have to be content with ROXIE HART, only it is not available for streaming so many of you will have approximately the same chance of getting to see it, which is a shame.

But here, at Mubi’s Notebook, for Forgotten By Fox, is my appreciation of William A. Wellman’s savage satire, as blackhearted a satire as anyone ever made. With dancing!

Wingwalking

Posted in FILM, MUSIC, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2020 by dcairns

I’m reading Most Secret War by RV Jones, a wartime memoir about British Scientific Intelligence. It’s quite brilliant and contains also several anecdotes of dubious relevance but high entertainment value. I’ll be quoting at least a couple.

Jones tells the story of a couple of Danes who, unhappy with the Nazi occupation, decided to escape the little island they lived on. One of them happened to have an old WWI two-seater plane in his barn… in pieces. They constructed the flying machine, using bits of wire and scrap to substitute any missing parts. Since there were Germans in the immediate vicinity, they were going to have to open the barn doors, start the engines, and hope the thing flew.

They saved petrol for ages. One problem was that the fuel tank would not hold enough fuel to get them to Britain. So, they packed cans of fuel and, having miraculously taken off, they had to refuel in midair over the sea, which required one of them to crawl onto the wing with a hosepipe between his teeth while the other simultaneously piloted the craft and funnelled petroleum down the tube.

They got to Britain alright and were immediately arrested as spies, as their story was not credible. The undeveloped film they’d taken of German radar emplacements was given to a lab who managed to destroy all but a couple of frames (which did prove useful).

They were eventually believed and released. After the war, they went back to Denmark and were extremely unpopular, as they’d rather shown everyone up.

Anyway, by coincidence, we watched FLYING DOWN TO RIO this week. It’s not a great film (not enough Eric Blore), but the really good thing about it is that Fred & Ginger are by so many miles the coolest people in it. Ginger is a lot less ladylike than she would be later — she grasps that fuselage between her thighs like it really belongs there. Fred isn’t as gentlemanly as he would be later either. What’s great is that most of their stuff involves them expressing contempt for the film’s main plot, the Gene Raymond/Dolores Del Rio romance, and since we share their opinion of it, we’re very much thrown in with them.

It’s also neat that the movie ends with them looking up at the leads departing by flying boat (or would you call it a seaplane?). Yeah, those guys are leaving, but Fred and Ginger will stick around for a while.