Film Legends Of Yesteryear: Screen Team & “Screen Team Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers in… Top Hat (1935)

Well, we’ve had one solo film each for July’s Screen Team Of The Month (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), so that means that we need to finish the month off with one of their team ups! In this case, we’re going with their 1935 classic Top Hat!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Under The Counter Spy (1954)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

A dangerous criminal called “The Bat” has stolen a secret formula, but has left the bottle in Woody Woodpecker’s house while evading the police. Woody mistakes the bottle for his tonic, and finds himself supercharged as he goes after “The Bat!” This one was apparently a spoof of Dragnet (which I’ve never seen but at least have some knowledge of), which makes it somewhat entertaining (probably even more so if you know the source material). Much of the humor is derived from the drained Woody drinking the tonic and then destroying everything with a mere touch. Of course, when “The Bat” goes after Woody while he is supercharged, “The Bat’s” foul deeds backfire on him! And I can’t deny that the final joke really makes this one! After being slightly disappointed with the previous few Woody Woodpecker cartoons included in the Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection, this one was a nice and hilarious return to form (without Woody having to be an obnoxious character) that I wouldn’t mind revisiting!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Watch The Birdie (1935)

(Available as an extra on the Top Hat DVD from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 18 minutes, 16 seconds)

Practical joker Bob (Bob Hope) wants to marry Dorothy Ripley (Nell O’Day). However, he goes too far with one of his jokes, and her father (George Watts) refuses to let them marry. This one is fairly entertaining, mainly as an early Bob Hope appearance. The various pranks he plays (and those played on him) are certainly a lot of this short’s humor (but, of course, Bob still has a few quips of his own). There’s also some extra fun with a quick appearance of Pete the Dog (of The Little Rascals fame). It’s not great, but I enjoy it enough that I don’t mind seeing it periodically.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Page Miss Glory (1936)

(Available as an extra on the Top Hat DVD from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 43 seconds)

A bellhop at a hotel in a small country town awaits the arrival of a big star, Miss Glory. While he waits, he falls asleep and dreams of being a bellhop in a big city hotel, where he has to page Miss Glory. This one was admittedly entertaining. There’s not much story to it, but who needs it when there’s some fun music written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. It’s an early Tex Avery cartoon, and while it’s not quite as wild as some of his later stuff, it’s good enough to be memorable. I certainly know I wouldn’t mind seeing it again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) is producing a show in London featuring the American star Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire). One time, when Horace asks Jerry to stay overnight at his hotel room to help keep the peace between Horace and his valet, Bates (Eric Blore), Jerry starts madly dancing around the room. His dancing disturbs the sleep of Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers), who is occupying the room beneath them. When she comes up to complain (while Horace is away), Jerry becomes instantly smitten with her, and tries to go out with her. At first, she resists him, but she starts coming around to him. Their mutual attraction is short-lived, however, as various circumstances lead Dale to believe that Jerry (who had never introduced himself to her) is Horace Hardwick, who is married to her friend Madge (Helen Broderick)! Stunned and angry, Dale decides to leave London with her dressmaker, Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes), and go to Venice, Italy, where Madge is currently staying in order to warn her about “Horace’s” flirtations. Saddened by Dale’s departure, Jerry goes on with the show. When he learns from Horace backstage via telegram that Madge had invited them to go to Italy to meet her friend, Dale Tremont (since she was trying to set up Jerry and Dale as a couple), Jerry tells Horace to charter them a plane to Italy immediately. Meanwhile, in Italy, Dale tells Madge about “Horace” flirting with her, but Madge seems to take it in stride as being something in the norm for her husband. When Jerry and Horace arrive, Jerry keeps trying to see Dale, but is mystified as to why she is being so standoffish. At the same time, Horace is threatened by Alberto and is dealing with his wife being suspicious of him (but he assumes it’s because she heard about another accidental affair of his). When Jerry tries to propose to Dale, she slaps him, and later agrees to marry Alberto in the hopes that “Horace” will finally leave her alone. Will they be able to figure out the truth of what is going on, or will Dale be stuck married to a man that she doesn’t love?

Supposedly, the film was based on the 1911 play The Girl Who Dared by Alexander Faragó and Aladar Laszlo, but, from what I’ve read, the only aspect of the play retained for the film was the moment when Fred Astaire’s Jerry had to carry Horace’s (Edward Everett Horton) briefcase (which was one of the central moments that helped with the mistaken identity plot). More comparisons are generally made to the previous year’s The Gay Divorcee, in between the similar plot and (almost) identical cast (with Helen Broderick in Top Hat instead of Alice Brady). And it’s hard not to make that comparison, especially since Dwight Taylor, the author of the original play The Gay Divorce, was brought in to develop the story for Top Hat. However, Fred Astaire had some complaints about the initial script, including the idea that it too closely resembled The Gay Divorcee, and Allan Scott was brought in to do some rewrites (and yet, all these years later, the final film still resembles The Gay Divorcee in the minds of many). Irving Berlin was brought in to write the score, with the five songs that stayed in becoming hits at one time or another. Since Fred Astaire was mainly devoting all his time to the movies he was making with Ginger, he worked on most of the choreography with Hermes Pan (with Hermes Pan usually playing Ginger’s part), and they would show Ginger (who was still doing other films besides those with Fred) the choreography when they had it done. Top Hat would end up being a big hit with audiences, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1935 (behind Mutiny On The Bounty), and the highest grossing film in the Astaire/Rogers series. It would also be nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Song (Irving Berlin for “Cheek to Cheek”), Dance Direction (Hermes Pan for “Piccolino” and “Top Hat”) and Best Art Direction (Carroll Clark and Van Nest Polglase) (and regretfully losing them all).

Top Hat was the second Astaire-Rogers film that I saw (following 1949’s The Barkley’s Of Broadway, which I didn’t take to immediately), and it’s since become my favorite film in the series! Personally, Irving Berlin’s music is part of the film’s appeal for me, and I consider the score to be his best (I think some of the other musicals that used his music were better, but I like this score the best). All five songs are great fun (and easily get stuck in my head whenever I watch this movie)! I’d certainly give the edge to the songs “Top Hat, White Tie And Tails” (which I’ll admit to having done a tap solo to years ago, with the outfit becoming my go-to dance costume whenever I could use it for various specialty routines at dance recitals) and “Cheek To Cheek” (which is the song and dance that most defines the partnership of Fred and Ginger to me, and which I have also danced to, although it loses some of its meaning in the process since, at 6’4″, I’ve towered over most of my dance partners). But “No Strings (I’m Fancy Free),” “Isn’t This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain)” and especially “The Piccolino” are all very delightful songs (and dances!).

The music (and dancing) are a big part of what makes the film a classic, but the comedy is right up there, too! Fred and Ginger certainly have some wonderful comedic moments together, and lines that stick with me, including this fabulous exchange:

-Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers): “What is this strange power you have over horses?”

-Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire): “Horse power.”

Of course, Fred and Ginger are hardly the only ones with comedic abilities here, as the rest of the cast handle it quite well, too. But it’s Edward Everett Horton (with his hilarious double-takes) and Eric Blore who steal the show, especially when together. Of course, Eric Blore’s Bates insulting the Italian policeman (who supposedly doesn’t understand a word of English) is one of the film’s most laugh-out-loud moments for me! Sure, the film’s plot is ridiculous, but with Fred and Ginger (and all the rest of the cast) to carry the film, who needs a good plot? I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this film quite highly (seriously, go find a way to watch it now)!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dancing Lady (1933)Fred AstaireFollow The Fleet (1936)

Star Of Midnight (1935)Ginger RogersIn Person (1935)

The Devil Is A Woman (1935) – Edward Everett Horton – Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)

Helen Broderick – Swing Time (1936)

The Good Fairy (1935) – Eric Blore – Swing Time (1936)

Lucille Ball – Follow The Fleet (1936)

Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers (screen team) – Follow The Fleet (1936)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring either Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers (or both), whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Due to the slower pace of releases, I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of Fred and Ginger’s films that have seen a new release in 2022. So far, that list includes Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Note: Due to the fact that I’ve reviewed both Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946) previously, I have added my “Coming Up Shorts!” comments to those reviews.

Update: On 11/16/2022, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD release of Holiday Inn (1942), which completes this post for the year. Due to there being a previously written review for that film, the “Coming Up Shorts!” comments were added to that review.

Table Of Contents

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s the Great Depression, and while producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) has a great idea for a show, he doesn’t have the cash to put it on. However, Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), the composer boyfriend of one of Barney’s potential cast members, decides to offer Barney the money to put it on (in exchange for his girlfriend being given the lead). The show’s a hit, but when it comes out that Brad (who is part of a wealthy society family) intends to marry his girlfriend, Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler), Brad’s older brother, J. Lawrence Bradford (Warren William), threatens to have him cut off financially. Mistaking Polly’s roommate Carol (Joan Blondell) for Polly, Lawrence tries to buy her off, but Carol and her friend Trixie Lorraine (Aline MacMahon) decide to get back at him. Will Lawrence be able to break up his brother’s relationship, or will he find himself in love?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • Extras: FDR’s New Deal… Broadway Bound, Warner Brothers cartoons We’re In The Money (1933), Pettin’ In The Park (1934), I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (1933), Warner Brothers Shorts Ramblin’ Round Radio Row #2 (1932), The 42nd Street Special (1933), Seasoned Greetings (1933), Theatrical Trailer
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best preservation elements, and it looks fantastic!  It’s an understatement to say that it shows off all the details of the sets and costumes, especially for the various musical numbers!  The image has been cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris.  As usual, this Warner Archive release really shines as an example of a great restoration.  The Blu-ray is highly recommended as the best way to see this movie, and goes quite well with their earlier Blu-rays for 42nd Street (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933)!

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Format: 4K UHD
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Blue Skies (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: Dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) likes chorus girl Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but he makes the mistake of taking her to a nightclub owned by his friend, Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). Mary falls instantly for Johnny, and he for her, much to Jed’s regret. However, Mary takes a slight issue with Johnny not being too responsible, as he has a bad habit of constantly buying and selling his nightclubs. That’s not enough to stop them from getting married, but Johnny’s refusal to change his ways really comes between them after they have a child, and they divorce. With Jed’s love for Mary growing over time, will she give him a chance, or will things go sour between them, too?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by film critic and author Simon Abrams, Trailers for Road To Morocco (1942), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

My Overall Impressions

Since this post is in reference to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, my Screen Team Of The Month for July 2022, then, as you have noticed, I am foregoing my usual quick comments on these movies in favor of some reflection on the films regarding Fred and Ginger (especially since I have otherwise reviewed these two films previously). Neither Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) nor Blue Skies (1946) were substantial roles for Fred or Ginger, since neither of them were at the peak of their careers. Ginger’s star was on the rise after she played the part of Anytime Annie in 42nd Street (1933), which is when she was starting to really get noticed. For Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933), her big moment is the opening number, “We’re In The Money,” which she sings normally first, and then sings again in pig Latin (and this opening number is indeed worth the price of admission). Otherwise, she has a relatively minor part, mainly as one of the girls hoping to get a part in Barney Hopkins’ new show in the first half of the movie, and then she is relegated to two very quick appearances as she tries to get in on the gold digging that two of her friends are doing (before being quickly booted by them both times). On the other hand, Fred’s career was on the outs by the time of Blue Skies (1946). He was feeling burnt out, especially after Yolanda And The Thief (1945) bombed, and announced his retirement, effective after doing Blue Skies (although his retirement was short-lived, as he came back two years later for Easter Parade). With him playing second fiddle to Bing Crosby, he doesn’t really have as much to do, but he does get four musical numbers. They are “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” (partnered with leading lady Joan Caulfield, and this routine is only decent when he is dancing alone), “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men” with Bing Crosby (in a similar comedic vein to “I’ll Capture Your Heart” from Holiday Inn), “Heat Wave” with Olga San Juan and “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” The latter three songs are some of the film’s best moments, with “Puttin’ On The Ritz” being the film’s standout routine, as Fred utilizes special effects to make his cane fly up from the ground into his hand several times before finishing out with a chorus of Fred Astaires (one of the few times we could directly see just how well-rehearsed he was as we see that chorus so very in-sync with each other and the “lead” dancer). Fred’s earlier team-up with Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn (1942) is a different story from these other two films. While he was past both his partnership with Ginger (save for their reunion film The Barkleys Of Broadway from 1949) and his status as box office poison, Fred’s career was still on a bit of a downhill slope (admittedly not as steep as it would be within the next few years). Holiday Inn marked the first time since very early in his film career where Fred wasn’t the highest-billed male star of the movie, with him in some respects playing the film’s “villain” (a bit of a rarity in and of itself). He does get several song-and-dance numbers in the film, including the aforementioned “I’ll Capture Your Heart” with Bing Crosby; “You’re Easy To Dance With” with Virginia Dale; his “drunk dance,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” “I Can’t Tell A Lie” and the Hollywood medley with Marjorie Reynolds; and his solo (with firecrackers!) to “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers.”

Well, now that I’ve commented on both of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (3.):

  1. Blue Skies (1946)
  2. Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)
  3. Holiday Inn (1942)

I admit, my personal preference definitely comes into play here, as I have long preferred Blue Skies over Gold Diggers Of 1933 or Holiday Inn. I very much enjoy listening to the music and Fred’s dancing in Blue Skies (always have preferred Fred’s way of filming dance over Busby Berkeley’s). The story is probably better in Gold Diggers Of 1933, and it has some fun music as well (again, Ginger’s “We’re In The Money” is one of the film’s biggest highlights). Fred has a few good moments in Holiday Inn, but, in spite of the fact that his role was larger in that film than in Blue Skies, I actually prefer him in the later Blue Skies. As to which film has the better transfer, that’s easy: Gold Diggers Of 1933. As I said, Blue Skies looks very good, and is definitely a nice improvement over the DVD. But, the color isn’t quite as good as what I’ve seen from three-strip Technicolor films released by Warner Archive, and Gold Diggers, while a black-and-white film, looks very, VERY good. The 4K UHD for Holiday Inn, however, is a disappointment with a lackluster transfer that really shouldn’t have been released. The Blu-rays for Blue Skies and Gold Diggers Of 1933 are both releases that are easy to recommend (especially since I think they are both good films with pretty good transfers). Holiday Inn is a tougher recommendation, since I not only can’t quite recommend the 4K UHD but also don’t think *quite* as highly of the film itself in comparison, but I certainly would recommend it at least from any of the previously available Blu-rays.

“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)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

TFTMM’s Screen Team Edition Presents “Screen Team Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

Well, the month of June is past (and with it, my focus on Frank Sinatra), so, as my homepage indicates, we’re now here to focus on the Screen Team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! Originally, I had planned to focus on them for May 2022, but I delayed it after a lot of trouble at home (as alluded to in this post), with the hope that I would have more time and potentially be able to do the five films I had originally hoped to do. Even with the delay, things haven’t improved enough for me to do five films (which, honestly, I’m fine with now, as the slower pace with fewer reviews per month is actually a bit of a relief). So, it’s on with Fred and Ginger! Again, this is still not a blogathon, but if you’re interested in contributing, I certainly wouldn’t object!

Table Of Contents

Quick Film Career Bio

Fred Astaire

Birth: May 10, 1899

Death: June 22, 1987

On May 10, 1899, Frederick Austerlitz was born to Frederic “Fritz” Austerlitz and Johanna “Ann” Geilus in Omaha, Nebraska. As a growing boy, Fred was a bit frail and tended to be very serious, so his mother pushed him to take up dancing. At first, he didn’t care for the idea, but he came around to it. With both him and his older sister Adele showing some serious skill with dance, the family moved to New York City in early 1905 where they were taught dance, speaking and singing at the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts. In this way, they worked towards coming up with a dance act for the two siblings to tour with on the vaudeville stage. They made their stage debut together in Keyport, New Jersey. Soon after, they got a contract with the Orpheum Circuit, and they toured the country with their act. With Adele growing taller than Fred for a time, they had to take some time off. After two years, they returned to the stage. As they traveled, they learned other styles of dance, like tap dancing and ballroom, from some of their vaudevillian acquaintances. Eventually, the Astaires were able to make it to Broadway, debuting in the 1917 show Over The Top. Over the next fourteen years, they proved to be popular with audiences on Broadway and in London, with their final show together being The Band Wagon in 1931. After that, Fred was on his own when his sister retired to marry Lord Charles Cavendish.

Embarking on a solo career, Fred did the Cole Porter show The Gay Divorce, but he yearned for something different, and signed with Hollywood studio RKO Radio Pictures. They briefly lent him out to MGM, where he made his film debut (playing himself) in a glorified cameo dancing with Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady (1933). Back at RKO, he was cast in Flying Down To Rio (1933), essentially playing the comedy relief opposite the film’s leads. However, he was paired up with Ginger Rogers (whom he had met and even briefly dated back on Broadway in 1930) for a dance to the song “The Carioca,” and history was made. Audiences and RKO executives were thrilled with the chemistry that the two shared, and Fred and Ginger would be teamed up again (this time, with top billing) for The Gay Divorcee (1934), the filmed version of Fred’s final Broadway show. While he wasn’t thrilled being considered part of a team again, he went along with it when he was offered ten percent of the profits. The Gay Divorcee also proved to be a big success, and the series continued on, with them reaching the height of their popularity as a team with their fourth film, Top Hat (1935). In the process, Fred had changed the way dance was used and filmed, as he insisted on minimal cuts during the dance itself and wanted to keep the dancers’ full bodies in view, while also trying to make dance itself integral to the plot. As time went on, though, the Astaire-Rogers films started to falter at the box office. Wanting to try going solo again (since he had only been making films with Ginger, while she had been doing stuff apart from him), he made A Damsel In Distress (1937). The film did poorly at the box office, and resulted in him being labeled “box office poison.” He tried to do two more films with Ginger at RKO, but his bad streak continued, resulting in both films losing money at the box office. After The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939), he left RKO and started freelancing. He danced opposite Eleanor Powell (Broadway Melody Of 1940, MGM), Paulette Goddard (Second Chorus, Paramount Pictures), Rita Hayworth (You’ll Never Get Rich and You Were Never Lovelier, both Columbia Pictures), Bing Crosby (Holiday Inn and Blue Skies, both Paramount Pictures), Joan Leslie (The Sky’s The Limit, RKO) and Lucille Bremer (Yolanda And The Thief and Ziegfeld Follies, both MGM). With his popularity sinking again (in between Yolanda And The Thief bombing and playing second fiddle to Bing Crosby in two films), Fred announced his retirement following Blue Skies, with him focusing on his dance studios and on breeding racehorses.

His desire to be retired didn’t last too long, as he started to ponder going back to work. He was given a stronger nudge when MGM called him, hoping he would replace the injured Gene Kelly for Easter Parade with Judy Garland. Indeed, he did come back, and the film turned out to be one of his biggest hits! Fred and Judy were supposed to follow that up with The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949), but she had issues because of her dependence on prescription medications and had to be replaced. Fred’s old co-star Ginger Rogers was brought in for what would be their final film together (and their only one in color), and the film was a success. Fred was given an honorary Academy Award for artistic achievement (presented by none other than Ginger Rogers herself), and made a string of Technicolor musicals for MGM (with a slight stopover at Paramount for Let’s Dance). After making The Band Wagon (1953), his contract with MGM was terminated (due in part to the rise of television). He was about to start working on the film Daddy Long Legs over at 20th Century Fox, but his wife, Phyllis Potter (whom he had married in 1933) grew ill and died suddenly of lung cancer. In his grief, he wanted out of his contract for Daddy Long Legs (even offering to pay the production costs himself), but composer Johnny Mercer and the studio executives wanted him to do the film, hoping that working would help him through his grief. He listened to them, and the film did decently at the box office. However, his next two films, Funny Face (1957) and Silk Stockings (1957), lost money, and he decided to retire from dancing in the movies (although, over the next decade, he would do four highly acclaimed dance specials on television).

On the big screen, he took a more dramatic turn with the film On The Beach (1959), for which he received a nomination for the Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor. He continued to make the occasional appearances on the big screen, but also did work on TV as well, enjoying recurring roles on Dr. Kildare (1961-1966) and the final season of It Takes A Thief (1968-1970). He returned to the musical genre again on the big screen for Finian’s Rainbow (1969), although director Francis Ford Coppola overrode him on how to film the dance scenes for the movie. On the small screen, he kept himself in the limelight by voicing the mailman character S. D. Kluger in Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970) and The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town (1977), and made an appearance on the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979) due to his grandchildren’s interest in the series. He received his sole Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actor) in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. His final film appearance was in 1981’s Ghost Story alongside several other actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He passed away a few years later from pneumonia (on June 22, 1987) at the age of 88.

Ginger Rogers

Birth: July 16, 1911

Death: April 25, 1995

On July 16, 1911, Virginia Katherine McMath was born to William Eddins McMath and Lela Emogene Owens at their home in Independence, Missouri. Not long after her birth, her parents split up (with her father even kidnapping her twice) and eventually divorced. With her mother trying to get work in Hollywood, Virginia moved in with her grandparents in Kansas City. When Virginia (who gained the nickname “Ginger” due to a younger cousin’s mispronunciation of her name) was nine, her mother was married again, this time to John Logan Rogers, and Ginger took on his surname (even though she was never legally adopted by him). They moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where her mother became a theater critic. With her mother bringing her along to some of the stage productions, Ginger began to dance and sing along with the performers. At the age of fourteen, she entered and won a Charleston dance contest, with the prize being the opportunity to tour as part of an act called “Ginger And The Redheads” on the Orpheum Circuit. At the age of seventeen, she briefly formed an act with Jack Culpepper (who would be her first husband for nearly a year). After the act dissipated, she tried doing a solo act, working with bandleader Paul Ash and his orchestra when they went to New York City. She made her Broadway debut in the musical Top Speed, but was quickly chosen (within two weeks of that show’s opening) to star in the Gershwin musical Girl Crazy (with Fred Astaire being brought in to help the dancers with the choreography).

Before she starred in Girl Crazy, she had been in a few theatrical shorts. Upon finishing her run in Girl Crazy, she signed with Paramount Pictures and made her film debut in Young Man Of Manhattan (1930). She made that movie (and several more) at Astoria Studios in New York City, before she got herself out of the contract with Paramount and moved to Hollywood with her mother. She worked at studios like Pathé Exchange, Warner Brothers, Monogram and Fox, without getting too far. It took getting the role of “Anytime Annie” in 42nd Street (1933) before she started getting recognition. She followed that up by memorably singing “We’re In The Money” in pig Latin for Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933). She made some other films for Warner Brothers and RKO Studios before famously being paired up with Fred Astaire for “The Carioca” in Flying Down To Rio (1933). Their chemistry together was enough for RKO executives to team them up again for The Gay Divorcee (1934), which cemented them as two of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time. While Fred Astaire continued to concentrate all of his efforts on their films together, Ginger maintained her own solo career with a very busy schedule. As a team, Fred and Ginger’s popularity hit its peak with their fourth film Top Hat (1935). The costs of producing musicals (much higher than for dramas or comedies) resulted in the Astaire-Rogers films not being as successful after that, and the team split briefly. She proved her dramatic abilities in Stage Door (1937) and continued to hone her comedic abilities through films like Vivacious Lady (1938). With Fred Astaire being labeled box office poison after his own solo outing and RKO Studios facing bankruptcy, Fred and Ginger were teamed up again for two more movies. Sadly, the musical genre was losing its appeal to audiences, and both films lost money, thus ending the partnership (for a decade).

Ginger continued to enjoy success on her own, with comedies like Bachelor Mother (1939). She really hit her stride the next year with her role in Kitty Foyle (1940), a role which would win her the Oscar for Best Actress. Her Oscar win gave her more negotiating power when it came to her contracts with the studios, and she took the opportunity to do the projects she wanted for whatever studio, including The Major And The Minor (1942) (which was semi-autobiographical for her in that, when she was younger and traveling with her mother, she had dressed up to look like a child to get half-fare tickets), Tender Comrade (1943) and I’ll Be Seeing You (1944). During this time, she became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. The end of the decade saw her reunited onscreen with Fred Astaire when she replaced Judy Garland to do The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949).

Going into the 1950s, Ginger’s career started to go into decline, with fewer roles being offered due to her age. Her main success on the big screen during this period was her second film with Cary Grant, Monkey Business (1952). She continued to make movies throughout the decade while also starting to make appearances on various TV shows. Her final film role was that of Jean Harlow’s mother in Harlow (1965). She made her comeback on Broadway that same year when she played Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! and followed that up a few years later with the lead in the musical Mame in London’s West End. She made a handful of appearances in different TV shows like The Love Boat (1977-1986) and Hotel (1983-1988), with Hotel being her last onscreen role as an actress. In fulfilling a lifelong dream, she directed an off-Broadway production of Babes In Arms in 1985. In 1991, she published her autobiography, “Ginger: My Story.” Her last public appearance was when she received the Women’s International Center Living Legend award in March 1995. Just barely a month later, on April 25, 1995, she died from congestive heart failure at her home.

My Own Feelings On Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

When I first started watching classic films, Fred Astaire was one of the performers that I took to early on. The first film of his that I saw was The Royal Wedding (1951) (technically, I heard his voice in the 1970 TV special Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, which I had seen many times as a kid, but I never really had anything more specific to associate him with). While I liked him in The Royal Wedding, I didn’t really take to him that strongly at first, and in fact preferred Gene Kelly as a dancer. It really wasn’t until I saw Fred in Blue Skies (1946) later that year that I changed my mind and started concentrating on his films (specifically, his tap solo to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and his duet with Bing Crosby to “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men” were what really sold me on him). Of course, following that up with Easter Parade (1948) really cinched my interest in him. I have by this point seen all of Fred’s film musicals, and while their quality may vary, I find I could easily put on any one of them and be happy with it. I’ve seen a few of his later non-musical films as well, with varying opinions (although my main opinion is that he was at his best in musicals).

Of course, I should be following up with my opinion of Ginger Rogers, but the reality is that I first developed a fondness for Fred, then their films together, then her on her own. The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949) was the first film I saw with both Fred and Ginger in it (if I’m remembering correctly, I saw it before I had seen Blue Skies, so I didn’t developed a solid interest in their team yet). After I saw the likes of Blue Skies and Easter Parade, I followed up with Top Hat (1935), which is when I not only developed an interest in seeing the rest of the Astaire/Rogers films, but it also cemented my interest in another “team,” that of Fred Astaire and composer Irving Berlin. Over the following couple of years, I saw all of the remaining Astaire/Rogers films whenever I could catch them on TCM, and enjoyed every one of them.

I think I might have seen most, if not all, of the Astaire/Rogers films before I started to venture into some of Ginger’s solo outings. I do remember that I saw in fairly quick succession Kitty Foyle (1940), Roxie Hart (1942) and I’ll Be Seeing You (1944), all of which I took to very strongly. Ever since, I’ve been trying to see more of Ginger’s filmography (which is a bit of a difficult task, since she made way more movies than Fred did). So far, I’ve enjoyed every one of them, even if only because of her presence, and that’s made it easier for me to keep looking for more of her films!

Fred Astaire Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of July, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.

Dancing Lady (1933)

Top Hat (1935)

Follow The Fleet (1936)

Swing Time (1936)

A Damsel In Distress (1937)

Carefree (1938)

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)

Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

Holiday Inn (1942)

You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

The Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Blue Skies (1946)

Easter Parade (1948)

The Band Wagon (1953)

Funny Face (1957)

Silk Stockings (1957)

The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Ginger Rogers Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from her filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of July, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of her films even beyond this month’s celebration.

You Said A Mouthful (1932)

42nd Street (1933)

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

Professional Sweetheart (1933)

Upper World (1934)

Star Of Midnight (1935)

Top Hat (1935)

In Person (1935)

Follow The Fleet (1936)

Swing Time (1936)

Vivacious Lady (1938)

Having Wonderful Time (1938)

Carefree (1938)

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)

Bachelor Mother (1939)

Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)

Lucky Partners (1940)

Kitty Foyle (1940)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941)

Roxie Hart (1942)

The Major And The Minor (1942)

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)

I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

Magnificent Doll (1946)

Perfect Strangers (1950)

Forever Female (1953)

Black Widow (1954)

Entries For This Month

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –

Forever Female (1953)

Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup

Funny Face (1957)

Top Hat (1935)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Perfect Strangers (1950)

And now for the 1950 drama that reunited Kitty Foyle co-stars Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan, Perfect Strangers.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pre-Hysterical Man (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 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, 50 seconds)

While in Yellowstone, Olive falls off a tall peak into a deep hole where a caveman and dinosaur reside, and Popeye has to save her. While the caveman isn’t Bluto exactly, he’s certainly similar enough that this resorts to a similar formula as before. Some gags have been used before (at least they seem familiar), but they are still worth a few laughs. I’ve seen better Popeye cartoons, but this one is still a lot of fun!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Ernest Craig is on trial for the murder of his wife. Amongst the jurors are Mrs. Teresa “Terry” Scott (Ginger Rogers) (separated from her husband), David Campbell (Dennis Morgan) (married with children), Lena Fassler (Thelma Ritter) and others. As the trial has become something of a media sensation, the judge orders the jury to be locked up together in a hotel, with no outside contact for the duration of the trial. Throughout the trial, they are reminded of how the married Ernest Craig had had a relationship with his secretary, a fact that was playing out in the jury as well as Terry falls in love with David. Once the trial ends, the infighting increases as they all try to come to one conclusion: guilty or not guilty?

The movie made much ado about the fact that it re-teamed Kitty Foyle co-stars Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan after nearly a decade of trying to find the right script for them to work together again. It certainly veers into similar territory to the better known classic 12 Angry Men, but I doubt it has the power that that film has (to be fair, I’ve never seen 12 Angry Men, but I’ve certainly heard enough good things about it). I just don’t feel like this film works as well, for either of the two main stars. And it’s hard to sympathize with most of the jurors, some of whom openly admit they’ve already made up their minds beforehand, never mind how they all completely disregard orders to not discuss the case with each on their own time, starting in arguing almost as soon as the bailiff gets out of earshot. And, to a degree, that doesn’t even allow for how some of the cast is wasted, with Thelma Ritter being the main source of comedy. And Paul Ford just seems miscast as the judge. Sure, he does alright, but after having gotten used to him in comedic roles, whether it be Colonel Hall on the classic sitcom The Phil Silvers Show or as the mayor in The Music Man, seeing him in a serious role (even if it was before any of those) just seems odd. Now, in spite of my comments, I do like this movie, but at the same time, I really can’t quite bring myself to recommend this one to anybody except completists for any of the talent involved, onscreen or off.

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 4/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Magnificent Doll (1946)Ginger RogersForever Female (1953)

Christmas In Connecticut (1945) – Dennis Morgan

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Magnificent Doll (1946)

Next up, we have a bit of historical fiction with the 1946 movie Magnificent Doll starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven and Burgess Meredith!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Olive Oyl For President (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 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)

Popeye dreams of what it would be like if Olive ran for U.S. President (and won). While a lot of the political ideas may be slightly outdated (and a few ridiculous), it’s a fun little short. I know I enjoyed the quick reference to some of Paramount’s stars from the time, including Bing Crosby and Bob Hope! A remake of the 1932 short Betty Boop For President. Certainly a welcome relief from all the “Popeye Vs. Bluto” shorts of the previous two years!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Upon returning to his home from the Revolutionary War, John Payne (Robert Barrat) announces to his family that he plans to free his slaves, become a Quaker and move to Philadelphia as well as announcing the betrothal of his daughter, Dorothea “Dolly” Payne (Ginger Rogers) to John Todd (Horace McNally), the son of a friend who died saving his life. Dolly is not thrilled, but she goes along with the marriage, even though she doesn’t love him. John loves her, but it is only during a plague of scarlet fever that takes her father, her son, and ultimately John himself, that Dolly realizes only too late that she loves him, too. Dolly and her mother (Peggy Wood) decide to open their home to boarders, and in comes Senator Aaron Burr (David Niven), who takes an immediate liking to Dolly and offers to bring in a few more boarders. One other boarder who comes in after seeing Dolly out riding with Aaron is congressman James Madison (Burgess Meredith). At first, Dolly takes a liking to Aaron, while James admires her from afar, but as Aaron’s politics and desire for power become more pronounced, Dolly realizes she loves James and they are married. When Thomas Jefferson (Grandon Rhodes) runs for president, they support him, both during his failed attempt and his more successful run. However, Dolly has to help contend with Aaron’s attempts at becoming president, since he plans to rule the country like a tyrant.

Magnificent Doll paired Ginger Rogers with two of her former co-stars: David Niven (from Bachelor Mother) and Burgess Meredith (from Tom, Dick And Harry). My own opinion is that both of those previous movies are better than this one. Ginger Rogers is maybe a little too old for the role (or, at least, the movie’s beginning section, anyways), and it just feels weird seeing David Niven without his mustache. Still, it is an interesting film (even if it does take some liberties with history). I like the performances overall, from David Niven’s Aaron Burr as a man who wants to rule, with Dolly as a “queen” in name only (staying out of politics), while Burgess Meredith’s James Madison believes in democracy, and wants Dolly’s help. And I definitely appreciate Ginger’s performance, especially for her speech at the end of the movie. The story may be far from the best I’ve seen for any of these, and the movie is a bit slow at times, but I do enjoy it well enough to make it one worth recommending as something to take a chance on!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 6/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)Ginger RogersPerfect Strangers (1950)

Bachelor Mother (1939) – David Niven – Murder By Death (1976)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941) – Burgess Meredith

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

Now we’ve got something of a holiday classic, the 1944 movie I’ll Be Seeing You starring Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Safari So Good (1947)

(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: 7 minutes)

While on safari, Popeye and Olive run into a Tarzan-like Bluto, who is instantly smitten with Olive. A number of gags involving Bluto and the various jungle animals on his side as he and Popeye are up to their usual hijinks. Some fun to be had here, even if a few gags do get to be a bit predictable (I still had a few good laughs with them, so there is that)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Mary Marshall (Ginger Rogers) has been in prison for three years, but for good behavior, she’s been given a ten day vacation, which she uses to visit her uncle Henry (Tom Tully) and aunt Sarah Marshall (Spring Byington) in Pinehill. On the train ride there, she meets soldier Zachary Morgan (Joseph Cotten), who has been released from the hospital in an attempt to allow him a chance to readjust after a war wound left him shell-shocked. When he finds out she is going to Pinehill, he decides to get off there as well. He stays at the local YMCA, and tries to see Mary later. He is invited to dinner with the Marshall family, who make him feel welcome. Mary and Zach start spending a lot of time together, as she slowly learns about his troubles. However, she keeps her past a secret, particularly on the advice of her aunt and uncle. On New Year’s Eve, Zach invites everyone to a big party at the YMCA, where he starts to show how much he has improved. However, Mary is worried that he plans to propose, and she tries to avoid the question. But how long can it last?

I’ll Be Seeing You was produced by David O. Selznick as one of his first projects with his then-new Vanguard Films production company. It ended up being one of the early movies trying to start dealing with whatever potential after-effects of WWII, with Joseph Cotten’s Zachary suffering from PTSD and trying to figure out how to fit in. Of course, it is exemplified by us hearing his inner monologue at some moments (particularly as he is the only character we can hear the inner thoughts of). Ginger’s Mary, on the other hand, struggles with her own problems, especially considering her imprisonment is one that would anger many today, in the light of the #me-too movement (I’d say how, but I really shouldn’t spoil too much about this movie). Still, she tries to be selfless, up to a point, as she tries to help Zach once she learns about his problems, even concealing her own from him.

Personally, I enjoy this movie as a fun holiday film. Since it is obviously set during the holidays, from right before Christmas to just after New Year’s, it works quite well for two holidays. It is comforting to watch how welcoming the Marshall family is to both Mary and Zach, as they make sure they have Christmas gifts for both of them (even though they know Mary will be going back to prison shortly). Plus, we get them all casually singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” together, giving it a real Christmas feeling. And then with New Year’s, from the party they go to as they prepare to celebrate the new year, we see how both of them, whose dreams had been shattered by the traumas they faced, now start to have a chance at reclaiming those dreams. A new year, indeed.

Overall, I just can’t begin to say how much I enjoy this movie. From the holiday spirit to the performances of both the leads, I can’t help but enjoy watching this movie every now and again. Sure, Shirley Temple, who plays Mary’s cousin Barbara struggles a little in her last scene, but it’s not bad enough to turn me off the movie. Overall, I would easily recommend this film, either for holiday viewing, or any time of the year!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Film Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)Ginger RogersMagnificent Doll (1946)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Joseph Cotten – The Killer Is Loose (1956)

Since You Went Away (1944) – Shirley Temple

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)

Next up, we have the 1942 movie Once Upon A Honeymoon, starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Popeye And The Pirates (1947)

(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: 7 minutes, 35 seconds)

Popeye and Olive run into a band of pirates, led by Pierre, who takes a shine to Olive. A fun cartoon, with a similar competitive relationship between Popeye and Bluto (or in this case, Pierre). Some fun with some wonderful jokes, including a fish swimming by while reading a Popeye comic that gives him his spinach. Admittedly, at least one joke is cut short by a quick edit that, based on the opening disclaimer, was removed before the short was originally shown in theatres, possibly due to censorship. Still, a fun short, and worth a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1938 in Vienna, and Katie O’Hara (Ginger Rogers), masquerading as Katherine Butt-Smith, is getting ready to marry Baron Von Luber (Walter Slezak). However, the baron is suspected of working for the Nazis, and reporter Pat O’Toole (Cary Grant) comes snooping around, trying to talk to the future baroness. He gets in to see her under the guise of being her dress maker, and tries to find out what he can. He falls for her and attempts to warn her about the baron, but she doesn’t listen as she is more obsessed with the idea of being the baroness. He still follows the baron and his wife on their honeymoon trip, which seems to be marked by every country they visit falling to the Nazis. Once they are in Warsaw, however, Pat’s words get through after the baron sells some bad guns to the Polish general and Warsaw falls. While the baron has been arrested, Katie helps her Jewish maid and her children to escape, while going off with Pat. She forgets to get rid of her maid’s passport, which causes trouble when she and Pat are caught by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp as Jews. They have some good luck when the U.S. embassy helps get them out. They travel Europe, following the destruction left in the wake of her husband’s travels. In France, Katie is recruited by an American agent to go back and spy on her husband. But can she do it and get away with it?

Realistically, I would say this movie is a bit of a mixed bag. It covers a quite a few different genres, with comedy, drama, adventure, and romance all thrown in. That’s not a completely terrible thing, but it’s all a little too much. Especially with the scene in the concentration camp, which maybe takes things a little too far (admittedly, what we do see is a whole lot tamer than what the reality was, either due to the Code’s restrictions or lack of knowledge of what things were REALLY like).

Still, despite all those issues, there is a good movie to be found here. Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers do work well together, both able to show off some of their comic timing. The two of them would work together again about ten years later when they did Monkey Business, which was easily the better of the two movies they made together. It’s fun seeing Cary with the tape measure as he is trying to do the “fitting” for Ginger’s character, especially when he throws in the inside joke about “the way she looked tonight” (referring, of course, to the tune from the earlier Astaire/Rogers film Swing Time). And I certainly enjoy Cary’s radio broadcast at the end, which is hilarious as he tries to get the baron in hot water with all the other German officers. This movie may not be Monkey Business, but it’s still a lot of fun, and one I would definitely recommend!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Philadelphia Story (1940)Cary GrantNotorious (1946)

The Major And The Minor (1942)Ginger RogersI’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Roxie Hart (1942)

Next up, we have a fun film from 1942, the comedy Roxie Hart, starring Ginger Rogers, with Adolphe Menjou and George Montgomery!

Coming Up Shorts! with… I’ll Be Skiing Ya (1947)

(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: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Popeye tries to teach Olive how to skate at a winter resort, and skate instructor Bluto has other ideas. A lot of fun here, from Popeye’s ridiculous skating, to all the skiing stunts they do. Popeye and Bluto’s rivalry is certainly the source of most of the fun here, and the gags all work well enough. With Jack Mercer voicing Popeye, things certainly sound right here, and it was a lot of fun (and laughs)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After one gambler kills another, two reporters come walking into a bar. The older and more experienced reporter is lamenting the type of murderers they have today, and is reminded by some music playing of the case of Roxie Hart nearly fifteen years earlier. As he tells the story, we find that a man has been killed by Amos Hart (George Chandler). However, reporter Jake Callahan (Lynne Overman) doesn’t think it to be anything big. He catches Roxie Hart (Ginger Rogers) sneaking back into the apartment, and convinces her to take the rap, promising her fame and publicity, which could only help her career. She goes along with it, and they are able to hire lawyer Billy Flynn (Adolphe Menjou) to take her case. At first, she gets a lot of publicity, plus the attentions of reporter Homer Howard (George Montgomery). Soon, though, another woman commits murder, and Roxie becomes yesterday’s news. However, she gets everyone’s attention by announcing she is pregnant, and the trial finally happens, as all the craziness ensues on both sides. But will Roxie be freed, or hung?

Roxie Hart, as you can guess, is based on the 1926 play Chicago. It quickly became a silent film in 1927, then this version came along in 1942 (and, of course, Bob Fosse got ahold of it and turned it into a Broadway musical in the 1970s, which was made into a movie in 2002). The 1942 film is different than the other films, mainly because it was the only one made during the period that movies were censored due to the Code. It had originally been considered as a vehicle for Fox star Alice Faye, but she was pregnant and had to turn it down. Ginger Rogers, fresh off a new contract with RKO Studios which gave her more freedom in choosing her movies (even allowing her to do movies for other studios), wanted the role, and so she got it.

Right from the start, the movie gives you an idea of what is to come, with this dedication: “This picture is dedicated to all the beautiful women in the world who have shot their men full of holes out of pique,” and then follows up with several newspaper headlines of women getting away with murder in a ridiculous fashion. I would definitely say that the movie is very much over-the-top in style, with performances to match, especially from the constantly gum-chewing Ginger Rogers. From the “catfight” in prison (with Ginger fighting another prisoner with the sounds of cats fighting in the background) to some of the random dancing, to the trial itself, this movie is just so much fun! The movie can and does emphasize the press and the power of fame, as the main reason for her taking the rap for her husband (instead of being the killer herself). Watching the trial, and how everybody always has to get in the photograph is always hilarious (especially Ginger, who is awake and smiling for one photo, even though she supposedly just “feinted”). I can’t say enough positive things about this movie, as it is one I have always enjoyed! I know the over-the-top style may put off some, but I still give this movie some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.

Film Length: 1 hour, 14 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941)Ginger RogersThe Major And The Minor (1942)

One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937) – Adolphe Menjou – You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

The Chocolate Soldier (1941) – Nigel Bruce

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Tom, Dick And Harry (1941)

And our next movie is the Ginger Rogers film Tom, Dick And Harry, also starring George Murphy, Alan Marshal and Burgess Meredith.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Island Fling (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: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)

Popeye and Olive end up on an island with a love-hungry Robinson Crusoe (Bluto). Another fun cartoon, with gags galore as Bluto tries to woo the newly arrived Olive, with Popeye getting sent off to do other things, like hunt and search for buried treasure. Personally, I love the joke with Bluto’s “Hope” chest right next to a “Crosby” chest, but the rest is fun, too! The main downside here, though, is Bluto’s man Friday, who is a rather racist stereotype in looks and personality. Still, I had some fun with this one!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Telephone operator Janie (Ginger Rogers) has been going with car salesman Tom (George Murphy) for quite a while now, and he has decided to propose after a recent promotion. Janie tentatively says yes, although she dreams of being able to meet a millionaire. The next day, she sees a big car owned by a millionaire driving by her bus stop, and she decides to get in. She gets a date with the driver, Harry (Burgess Meredith), but finds out on the date that he was not the owner but an auto mechanic who was delivering the car to the owner. After one date with him, he proposes, and she accepts, particularly due to the power of his kiss. The next day, Harry comes across Tom at his business, and Tom, unable to refuse a potential sale, tries to convince him to buy a car instead of going on his date with Janie. Harry, who knew about Tom already, decides to take advantage of the situation and has Tom come to pick up his girlfriend to get her approval. Tom is shocked when he stops in front of Janie’s house, and he ends up leaving them at Inspiration Point (a make-out spot for couples). Harry and Janie end up getting a ride back with millionaire Dick Hamilton (Alan Marshal) and his girlfriend, although Janie really gets his attention. The next day, she disconnects a call between Dick and his girlfriend, which results in them breaking up since each thought the other hung up. Dick asks Janie out, and flies her out to Chicago. On the return trip, Janie tricks him into proposing, but he likes the idea and leaves the offer open (and of course, she says yes). Upon returning to her home, they are met by Tom and Harry, and now Janie must make a choice of who to marry!

After her dramatic turn in Kitty Foyle, Ginger Rogers followed it up with this movie. She returned to a comedy, and was re-teamed with her Bachelor Mother director Garson Kanin. The Oscars took place during filming, when she won Best Actress for Kitty Foyle. Afterward, she was famously greeted by the male cast and crew wearing top hats and tails, in her honor. Tom, Dick And Harry was the last film as part of her seven year contract with RKO studios at the time, and, with her Oscar win, she had more freedom as a freelance actress, making movies for other studios as well as RKO.

I will admit, as I’ve been going through Ginger’s filmography in order (at least, for the movies I actually have), I was very reluctant to return to this one. I saw it once at the beginning of the decade, and it was one that I didn’t take to very strongly. So, imagine my surprise when I found it a whole lot more enjoyable the second time around! A lot of the humor worked much better, and it was fun seeing Phil Silvers in one of his early roles, even if he was supposed to be an annoying character as the ice cream man trying to sell his ice cream at Inspiration Point (and ruining many a good romantic mood at the place, no doubt). What made it weird for me on the first viewing (and, to a degree, it still was again this time) was the dream sequences as she imagines life married to each of the men (and one final one where she was married to all three). Those sequences were funnier this time around, but it still feels weird seeing the “kids” in those dreams (which really amounted to being the actors made up to look younger). Honestly, though, that is probably the main complaint I have against this movie, as it was a lot of fun the second time around! Burgess Meredith does impress me the most as Harry, and is generally worth a few good laughs (especially when he goes to Tom’s workplace and, even though he resisted at first, goes along with the sales pitch to see how Tom would react later during the test drive)! All in all, a very fun movie, and one that is very easy to recommend!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Kitty Foyle (1940)Ginger RogersRoxie Hart (1942)

Little Nellie Kelly (1940) – George Murphy – For Me And My Gal (1942)

Burgess Meredith – Magnificent Doll (1946)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!