Archive for Gregory La Cava

Ginger’s Got a Knife

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


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.

Madame foX

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 27, 2020 by dcairns


A new Forgotten by Fox column over at The Notebook brings us into the pre-code era — GALLANT LADY is helmed by La Cava and stars Ann Harding and Clive Brook, both in excellent form, liberated by their director’s pixillated improv approach. Also, did Brook always have to play drunk to be fun?

Here, with clip to prove all I say.

Happy mistakes

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2017 by dcairns

A mismanaged day. but it resulted in some good things ~

The morning was easy — to Cinema Jolly for Dave Kehr’s retrospectives on Universal, the Laemmle years, and William K. Howard. LADIES MUST LOVE, an uncharacteristically zippy E.A. Dupont pre-code and the Sturges-scripted THE POWER AND THE GLORY. More on those another time.

In the afternoon I couldn’t make up my mind. I’d seen the silent THE INFORMER in Bo’ness. I opted for WRITTEN ON THE WIND — a Technicolor print from the camera negative, as it turned out. Scratchy in places, but breathtaking.

I had totally planned to see WISE BLOOD, introduced by producer Michael Fitzgerald and Queen of Continuity Angela Allen, but found myself switching to Iranian melodrama ZARBAT instead. It wasn’t as crazy as billed, so I bailed on it, only to learn that I left just as it was about to go nuts.

That brought me out into a thunderstorm so I sought shelter at Rupert Julian’s THE SAVAGE, which had Colleen Moore but was still a Rupert Julian film from 1917, and incomplete to boot. But where else am I going to see that? And then a Gregory La Cava cartoon, and then I skipped out during a documentary figuring to return for Mae West in SHE DONE HIM WRONG, only to find a massive queue for that and a further thunderstorm.

Enjoyed a big chat with David Bordwell and Dave Kehr and Jonathan Rosenbaum though, so that was fine. Had massive dinner. Assumed the open-air screening of King Vidor’s THE PATSY was off, so set my heart on ERASERHEAD. In fact, the rain had stopped, the forecasts were clear and THE PATSY went ahead.

ERASERHEAD was great, though. Spotted a picture of a mushroom cloud on Henry’s wall.