Sunday, September 18, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #15 - Professional Sweetheart
Run Time (approximate): 73 Minutes
Directed by: William A. Seiter.
Producer: H.N. Swanson.
Executive Producer: Merian C. Cooper.
Scenarists: Maurine Watkins.
Based on a Story by: Maurine Watkins.
Photography by: Edward Cronjager.
Art Directors: Van Nest Polglase and Carroll Clark.
Edited by: James Morley.
Sound Recorder: Clem Portman.
Musical Director: Max Steiner.
Makeup Artist: Mel Burns.
Still Photographer: John Miehle.
Also Starring: Norman Foster (as Jim Davey), Zasu Pitts (as Elmerada de Leon), Frank McHugh (as Speed Dennis), Allen Jenkins (as O'Connor), Gregory Ratoff (as Samuel 'Sam' Ipswich), Franklin Pangborn (as Herbert Childress), Lucien Littlefield (as Ed, the Announcer), Edgar Kennedy (as Tim Kelsey), Frank Darien (as Appleby), Sterling Holloway (as Stu).
UNCREDITED CAST: June Brewster (as Telephone Operator), Betty Furness (as Blonde Reporter), Theresa Harris (as Vera, Glory's Maid), Grace Hayle (as Fat Reporter), Edward Everett Horton (as Reporter), Mike Lally (as Studio Clerk), Mary MacLaren (as Ipswich's Secretary), and Akim Tamiroff (as Hotel Waiter).
Ginger's Character: Glory Eden.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 29 Minutes and 11 Seconds (40.0% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Imaginary Sweetheart",(Which is not a TRUE GingerTune, as her voice was 'dubbed' with another - see "Miscellaneous Stuff" below...).
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 8.0 - Overall, a VERY sassy Ginger role...but almost a bit TOO sassy, to the point of...well, a bit 'much'... Ginger really does well in painting Ms. Eden as a VERY spoiled young lady, which makes the 'transition' into her domestic (albeit a bit 'rustic') life pretty dramatic...The scene where Glory is 'negotiating' with her handlers is a bit 'out of character' for the typical Ginger role, with the knowledge that in real life Ginger wasn't into the 'nightclub scene' (i.e., 'going to the devil!'), as Ms. Eden yearns for. But, nevertheless, Ginger works the saucy role out pretty convincingly.
Film Quality (1-10): 7.5 - Not bad...certain segments are a bit 'grainy', but overall your typical level of film quality from a typical 1930's movie that we are fortunate enough to still have with us.
Available From: TCM - hoping it is released in the WB Archives Collection, as it is a great candidate, being Ginger's first RKO Radio Picture.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Ginger is pretty strong in her RKO-Radio Pictures debut as a lead character, which would be a foreshadowing of her 'franchise' status for the studio by the end of the decade, with, and without, the Fred Astaire partnership.
This film is a pretty 'simple' little story of a young lady named Glory Eden (Ginger Rogers), who has been 'rescued' from an orphan's home by a radio station and 'transformed' into "The Purity Girl", America's Sweetheart, who hawks "Ippsie Wippsie wipes", a raggedy outfit run by Sam Ipswich (Gregory Ratoff). Well, this is a pretty good gig for a orphan, especially one in the 1930's - and while Glory knows she's got it good, she doesn't have it the way she wants it...and thus she has morphed into a supreme 'diva', demanding things that just doesn't fit the pristine image of a 'Purity Girl". Although...here's the deal... this was on RADIO, correct? Well, if nobody truly knew her identity, couldn't she pretty much go out 'wilding' at night and still keep the day gig as long as she wasn't too looped to go on? Or am I just trying to talk us out of the whole movie plot? Most likely...
Anyway, Glory refuses to sign a new contract for the show, leaving her 'available' for other suitors, such as...oh, I don't know... Kelsey Washrags? (which is run by Tim Kelsey (Edgar Kennedy)).
In the negotiation process with Ipswich, one of his cronies comes up with an idea that will not only potentially 'appease' Glory, but also can be played up in her career for big publicity... hook her up with a dude! Of course, not just 'any' dude, but one of the 'purest Anglo-Saxon dudes'...which evidently source from Kentucky...although it would have been kinda funny if they used Missouri instead.
So, the random dude is selected out of her piles of fan mail, and Jim Davy...er,Crockett, maybe? (Norman Foster) is the fortunate son. J.D. is dragged from the hills of Kentucky up to Manhattan to commence the courting process, which is typically a long, rather arduous task, with much pining, wailing, and gnashing of teeth; but in Radioland, things move exponentially faster, between Glory's waffling about her contract and her raging wild womanhood almost bursting at the seams (wow...that's kinda heavy, eh? )...they expedite the process to get her married off, making it a 'public event' in the process, and hopefully securing her via contract agreement.
Well, wouldn't you know it, in all the hubbub of the wedding parade, the contract is misplaced, Kelsey has one of his dudes afoot trying to lure Glory away from the Ips-man, and Jim is just pretty disillusioned with the whole deal, and thus hustles Glory out of town and back to his Old Kentucky Home before anything is resolved. When they reach the shack, Jim realizes that the whole affair was a publicity stunt, and that Glory is pretty much a wild woman that will take a lot of taming... when she goes off on one of her hissy fits, he just hauls off and whomps her...which is obviously not a suggested tactic under ANY circumstance, IMHO, but in an early 30's film, guess there wasn't too much issue with it, strangely enough...well, after the whomping (which more or less laid her out cold), he is pretty regretful about it, and proclaims that "She's wicked, but I love her!" Well, she catches that 'sentiment', and deduces that J.D. is pretty serious about things, and she 'falls in line' as a result... again, this was a LONG time ago, y'all...
Well, Ipswich and Kelsey each send negotiators to Glory, trying to get her signed up... to no avail. Well, she DOES end up signing with someone, but with certain 'clauses'...and I'll leave it for you to see... although, it is a pretty quick 'wrap' on this one, like, " hey, we have our limit of film almost used up, so we need to wrap it up in a few minutes!"
Favorite Ginger Moments: Hmmmm.... when Glory hauls off and starts chunking books at those dudes, that's pretty funny to me...(I think J.D.'s rustic phrasings have rubbed off on my verbiage here...sorry...well, I AM in Alabama, too, y'all!) But, there's some funny spots throughout...here's GOBS of pics...
"A competent cast, headed by Ginger Rogers and Norman Foster, has found much that is amusing in the industry to which Radio City was dedicated... Miss Rogers has rarely been more entertaining" - New York Times
"All in all, it cannot be said that Professional Sweetheart is a miracle of freshness, but, thanks chiefly to Miss Rogers, it has its moments. As the radio girl who must be sweet and coy all over the place while she is busting with desire for a little venom, Miss Rogers is genuinely amusing, reminding us that she is, when properly cast, a really skillful and attractive comedienne." - New York Herald Tribune
"...with that cute and clever comedienne, Ginger Rogers, to romp in the leading role of radio's "Purity Girl"...Professional Sweetheart is a riot of laughter." - New York American
"Ginger Rogers plays the "Purity Girl" with pleasing humor." - New York Evening Post
GINGER: My Story: "Professional Sweetheart was a pleasant working experience. My leading man was Norman Foster, the young man I flirted with in my first film at Paramount. This time I got him - not Claudette! We had a wonderful supporting cast of skilled comedians: Franklin Pangborn, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins, Edgar Kennedy of the "slow-burn" take (slow burn is a theatrical term for an actor's showing his anger slowly on his face), and Zazu Pitts, with her famous fluttery hands. The story was a funny satire of a temperamental radio star (me), written by the talented Maurine Watkins. Even though RKO put it through three different titles - "Careless", "The Purity Girl", and finally "Professional Sweetheart" - it turned out quite well as my RKO debut. My only gripe was that my singing voice was dubbed by someone else for my song, "My Imaginary Sweetheart". I was amazed and annoyed. I had been singing professionally on the stage and screen for years and thought it ridiculous to hear someone else's voice coming out of my mouth."
--- As mentioned by Ginger above, her singing voice was 'dubbed over' by that of Etta Moten, who would later appear in Ginger and Fred's first pairing, "Flying Down to Rio", where she sings "The Carioca".
--- Sterling Holloway, who plays the somewhat daft reporter Stu, was the voice of several Disney animated characters from 1941 onward, most notably that of Winnie the Pooh from 1966 to 1977.
--- Working titles for the film were "Careless" and "Purity Girl". "Careless" would have been an interesting title for Ginger's resume, considering Ginger and Fred's 1938 offering, "Carefree".
--- The United Kingdom titled the film "Imaginary Sweetheart".
--- This was Ginger's first movie for RKO-Radio, although she did three films back in 1931-early 1932 (The Tip-Off, Suicide Fleet, and Carnival Boat) for RKO-Pathe, a 'forerunner' of RKO-Radio Pictures.
GingerFilm Ranking: #1 of 15...It's kind of hard to not put this one on top, if only for the percentage of 'Ginger Face Time' - 40% of the film, which I honestly thought would be even more, with her being the lead character... and although it may be a bit 'too much' in parts in the wild negotiation scene, in the end Ginger definitely nails the part of 'diva' with gusto, and thus the 'quality' generally matches the 'quantity' - well, heck, Ginger is ALWAYS 'quality', even if she is part of the background, right?
After Fourteen Reviews:
#01 - Professional Sweetheart
#02 - 42nd Street
#03 - The Tenderfoot
#04 - The Tip-Off
#05 - Queen High
#06 - Young Man of Manhattan
#07 - You Said A Mouthful
#08 - Carnival Boat
#09 - The Thirteenth Guest
#10 - Broadway Bad
#11 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#12 - The Sap From Syracuse
#13 - Suicide Fleet
#14 - Follow The Leader
#15 - Honor Among Lovers
#16 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: A Shriek In The Night...Ginger's second foray into the mystery genre, again paired with "The Thirteenth Guest" co-star Lyle Talbot in what is remembered by this observer as the lesser of the two films, but a re-review is in order...
Until then, as always...