“Screen Team (Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers) Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Ginger Rogers in… Forever Female (1953)

Well, since it’s July already (with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as my featured Screen Team Of The Month), then I’d like to continue the “ladies first” trend with a look into one of Ginger’s solo films! In this case, that would be the 1953 drama Forever Female (partly adapted from James M. Barrie’s 1912 play Rosalind), also starring William Holden and Paul Douglas!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Born To Peck (1952)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 38 seconds)

An elderly Woody Woodpecker looks back on his life as a baby. This one was decently entertaining. It’s one of the few that I’ve seen that really emphasized Woody as a woodpecker, with everything that he keeps pecking on (although it becomes a bit of a one-joke cartoon in that regard). It’s hard not to feel for his father, who tries to take care of him (only for Woody to keep picking on him). I do like one of the final jokes, about Walter Lantz wanting to keep him around (when the elderly Woody attempts to commit suicide), as well as Woody trying to start pecking in a petrified forest (and you can guess what happens there). It’s a bit different, but it’s still one of his weaker ones (although it provided enough laughs that I’m willing to come back to it every now and then).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Broadway star Beatrice Page (Ginger Rogers) has just opened in a new play, No Laughing Matter, which was produced by her ex-husband, E. Harry Phillips (Paul Douglas). After the show’s opening night, Beatrice and Harry spend time at Sardi’s restaurant (joined by her current beau, George Courtland IV, as played by George Reeves) while they await the reviews. When the newspapers arrive, they find out that all the critics are blasting the play itself (while consistently praising Beatrice’s performance as the only positive of the show). While they are there, talent agent Eddie Woods (James Gleason) brings in his client, a new playwright named Stanley Krown (William Holden). Eddie tries to sell them on Stanley’s play, but Stanley can’t resist telling off Beatrice for her lack of humility before he leaves for his current job. He leaves his play, The Unhappy Holiday, with them, and Harry reads it overnight. The next day, Stanley comes to Beatrice’s apartment to get his manuscript back. Harry admits that he likes the play (which is about a nineteen-year-old pianist and her controlling mother), but since he only produces plays for his “twenty-nine-year-old” (otherwise translated, middle-aged) ex, Beatrice, he can’t use it as it is currently written. Instead, they suggest rewriting the play to make the younger girl twenty-nine years old so that Beatrice could play the part. Stanley objects at first, but Harry and Beatrice convince him to make the change. So, with Beatrice cast as the “younger” girl, Harry and Stanley set about to cast the mother, but have trouble finding somebody at the auditions. To their surprise, a young girl named Sally Carver (Pat Crowley) comes to audition for the role of the young nineteen-year-old girl (even though they try to tell her the part has been rewritten and cast). They try to leave her, but she later catches up to Stanley and reveals that she knew his original play because she had been employed at the agency that typed it up for him. Sally tries to convince him to go back to the play as it was originally written, but Beatrice, who is interested in Stanley herself, persuades him to keep the changes. Eventually, Beatrice gets Eddie to offer Sally a job in another show (out of town, of course). Later on, as the show gets close to its premiere date, Sally returns and, after watching a rehearsal, once again tries to get Stanley to see that the play is no good as it is. However, he still refuses to go back to his original play. When it finally opens, though, Sally is proved right. Beatrice still thinks there is hope, and encourages Stanley to keep working on it while she takes a vacation in Europe. While she is gone, Stanley and Harry hear about a small troupe that is performing Stanley’s original play, and go to see it. They discover that Sally is in it (playing the part she originally insisted she should play), and the audience likes it that way. Of course, the question remains: can Stanley convince Beatrice that she is indeed too old for the part, or will she get her way?

Since I pretty much reviewed all of the Ginger Rogers films I had on disc back in late 2019 and early 2020 (apart from six of her films with Fred Astaire), I knew that I wanted to look into a film of hers that I hadn’t seen in preparation for my Astaire and Rogers Screen Team Of The Month feature. Forever Female fit the bill (which worked for me, since it was a movie that I’ve wanted to see for some time). It’s a film that I’ve seen compared to the likes of Sunset Boulevard (1950) and All About Eve (1950) due to its subject matter (but I’m not in a position to compare it myself, since I haven’t seen either of those films yet). I find that Forever Female was a very entertaining film, and Ginger Rogers was certainly worth seeing in it. Her performance as a middle-aged woman who was pretending to be twenty-nine to continue to get younger roles worked quite well (much better even than some of her earlier roles where she was dressed up to look like a child, such as The Major And The Minor). I do think that the writing is where the movie fails her a little bit, however. SPOILER ALERT Considering her character, when she goes off on her “vacation” (which is really her chance to go to her own home and act her own age), I thought that her being obsessed slightly with her own youth was a little too much of a sexist female stereotype. Personally, I would have thought that, especially for a character involved with the theater, that audience appeal would have mattered more (since it seems like actresses have always struggled a bit more than men to get roles as they get older). END SPOILER ALERT Of course, I will also say that the rest of the cast worked pretty well here, too, in support of Ginger. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but I certainly enjoyed it. For that reason, I would certainly recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Perfect Strangers (1950)Ginger RogersBlack Widow (1954)

William Holden – Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

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