And here we are for another Ginger Rogers movie, this time the 1933 comedy Professional Sweetheart, also starring Norman Foster, Zasu Pitts, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins and Gregory Ratoff.
Coming Up Shorts! with… The Fistic Mystic (1946)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
Popeye and Olive come to Badgag, where they run into “Bourgeois” Bluto. As usual, Popeye and Bluto are fighting over Olive, this time in a Mid-East setting. Olive does have a bit more to do, especially as she helps Popeye get his spinach. The gags are fun here, with Popeye and Bluto trying to one-up each other (like always)! While Harry Welch still takes some getting used to as Popeye’s voice, he does decently enough here. Overall, a very fun short that I enjoyed seeing!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Popular radio star Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers), known as the “Purity Girl,” is on the verge of signing a new contract with her sponsor, the Ippsie Wippsie Wash Cloth Company, owned by Sam Ipswich (Gregory Ratoff). However, she really doesn’t want to sign, as she is less than thrilled with the “morals clause,” with her current contract, which states that, as the “Purity Girl,” she can’t eat what she wants, dress how she wants, wear makeup, go out to nightclubs or speakeasies, etc. After some arguing, she is able to at least convince them she should have a shot at a relationship with a man, and they end up picking a letter from one of her fans, Jim Davy (Norman Foster) from Kentucky. They bring him there, and while the men from the company are trying to plan the marriage, their press agent Speed Dennis (Frank McHugh) has to nudge Jim into proposing since he hadn’t had time alone with Glory. Meanwhile, rival company Kelsey Dish Rag owner Tim Kelsey (Edgar Kennedy) wants to sign up Glory for his company, and sends his man O’Connor (Allen Jenkins) to try and get her to sign. O’Connor manages to convince Jim (and then Glory) not to sign with Ipswich, offering them a honeymoon in Atlantic City. However, after the wedding ceremony is aired on the radio for the Ippsie Wippsie Hour, Jim discovers that O’Connor wanted Glory to sign a five-year contract with Kelsey and that the whole thing in bringing him up there was essentially a gag. Jim secretly brings Glory back to his home in Kentucky in an attempt to see if she can live with all the “simple things” she claimed she wanted.
In what was to be her first film at RKO, Ginger Rogers was signed to a three-film deal. The movie was written by former newswoman Maurine Dallas Watkins, who had famously written the play Chicago, which Ginger would do a version of onscreen with Roxie Hart nearly a decade later. Ginger’s only complaint with Professional Sweetheart (and one most of us fans would probably have, too) is that she was, for the only time in her career, dubbed for the singing parts. Otherwise, the movie was well-received, enough so that later that year, she was offered a better seven year contract, during which time she would famously be paired with Fred Astaire and become a bigger star.
Of course, this movie was made before the Code was firmly enforced, and boy, you can definitely tell it is a pre-Code! From some of the frank (for the time) discussions of sex, an openly gay character, and Ginger parading around at times in her underwear (admittedly still modest by our modern standards), it definitely would have been a far different film if it had been released a few years later! I very much had fun with this movie, as it was a complete surprise, and one I mainly tried out because of Ginger. It was very much worth it, not just for her but also for a lot of the character actors, including Sterling Holloway (the voice of Winnie The Pooh) as one of the reporters! I do admit, I’m not thrilled with Ginger being dubbed (then again, I don’t really care for the song, so there is that), and the relationship between Glory and Jim is kind of forced, especially since we’re supposed to believe they love each other, even though they don’t really spend much time together alone until Jim is pushed into proposing. Still, I had enough fun with this movie that I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending a fun movie that in some ways still manages to be relevant even today!
This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.
Film Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
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