Archive for Primrose Path

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.

I don’t want to go to bed I’m having too much fun

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on July 7, 2012 by dcairns

The important bit is Scene 2 at 1:07. You have to watch it first otherwise my singing won’t make sense.

SHE MARRIED HER BOSS. Yes, more La Cava, with Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas. But the scene I have in mind, around 1.50, involves Claudette and Michael Bartlett (who’s really good in this), little Edith Fellows, and the magnificent Jean Dixon. A shame Bartlett and Dixon had such short careers, but they pixellated the thirties alright.

Leave it to La Cava to have a child write the world’s greatest drinking song. I have this number going round and round in my head and I keep inventing new and ever more inane lyrics.

I have a toy piano and I wear it round my neck

The personal note I give with it is better than a cheque.

I don’t want to go to bed I’m having too much fun!

The film sets home life against the workplace to see which is more importance, before concluding that the answer to life’s problems is really at the bottom of a bottle — I don’t recall seeing the alcoholic rampage quite so earnestly celebrated in any other movie. By the time of UNFINISHED BUSINESS, La Cava, a sadder and wiser man, was concluding that sobriety might have its uses, but for now it’s all wine and roses, women and song. Lots of songs!

Mary ran away from home she said she had to scram

With a jar of very nice mint sauce she took it on the lamb

I don’t want to go to bed I’m having too much fun!

There’s also a young and dapper Raymond Walburn as a comic butler, and numerous other pleasures. Even a more serious kind of recital, starting around 5.20 ~

The great non sequiturs (“Because you’ve got freckles”) call to mind Mischa Auer in MY MAN GODFREY (“I like onions, they make me sleepy.”) La Cava had a gift for irrelevance, surely as important as irreverence in a comedy director. I think what’s so miraculous about his best scenes is how they seem tight — the comedy crackles, the timing is exquisite — and loose — everybody seems naturally themselves, responding to what’s happening in a spontaneous manner.

In common with the darker PRIMROSE PATH, we learn that savage corporal punishment is the way to tame unruly children and that anything involving the people and language of Portugal is inherently amusing.

They say the squid has tentacles but they are only eight

They ought to call them eightacles and get a discount rate

I don’t want to go to bed I’m having too much fun!