Saturday, July 7, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #26 - The Gay Divorcee
Directed by: Mark Sandrich.
Assistant Director: Argyle Nelson.
Assistant Directors (Second Unit): Ray Lissner and Ivan Thomas.
Producer: Pandro S. Berman.
Based on the play and book 'The Gay Divorce' by: Dwight Taylor.
Cinematography by: David Abel.
Screenplay: George Marion, Jr., Dorothy Yost and Edward Kaufman.
Dialogue Contributions: Robert Benchley, H. W. Hanemann, J. Hartley Manners and Stanley Rauh.
Production Manager: J. R. Crone.
Original Music by: Max Steiner.
Musical Director: Max Steiner.
Music Recordists: Philip Faulkner, Jr. and Murray Spivack.
Music Arrangers: Maurice De Packh, Howard Jackson, Bernhard Kaun, Gene Rose, Eddie Sharpe and Clifford Vaughan.
Musical Adaptation: Kenneth S. Webb and Samuel Hoffenstein.
Sound Director: Carl Dreher.
Recordist: Hugh McDowell, Jr.
Sound Cutter: George Marsh.
Sound Effects Editor: Robert Wise.
Film Editing: William Hamilton.
Photographic Effects: Vernon L. Walker.
Special Effects Supervisor: Harry Redmond Sr.
Special Effects: Harry Redmond Jr.
Camera Operator: Joseph F. Biroc.
Assistant Cameras: Willard Barth and Clifford Stine.
Still Photographer: Fred Hendrickson.
Grip: Jim Davis.
Electrician: James Vianna.
Art Direction: Thomas Little.
Makeup Department: Mel Berns and Robert J. Schiffer.
Costume Design: Walter Plunkett.
Wardrobe: Claire Cramer.
Also Starring: Fred Astaire (as Guy Holden), Alice Brady (as Aunt Hortense), Edward Everett Horton (as Egbert 'Pinky' Fitzgerald), Erik Rhodes (as Rodolfo Tonetti), Eric Blore (as The Waiter), Lillian Miles (as Singer in The Continental), Charles Coleman (as Guy's Valet), William Austin (as Cyril Glossop), Betty Grable (as Dancer/Singer in Let's Knock Knees).
UNCREDITED CAST: Norman Ainsley (Undetermined Role), Jimmy Aubrey (Undetermined Role), Finis Barton (Undetermined Role), De Don Blunier (as Chorus Girl), Jack Chefe (as Table Extra), Cy Clegg (as Porter), E. E. Clive (as Chief Customs Inspector), George Davis (as French Waiter #1), Charles Dunbar (as Waiter), Leslie Goodwins (as Baggage Man), Jack Grant (as Porter), Charlie Hall (as Messenger at Dock), Shep Houghton (as Dancer), Arthur Jarrett (as Vocalist), Sydney Jarvis (Undetermined Role), Vivian Keefer (as Chorus Girl), Lois Lindsay (as Chorus Girl), J. G. MacMahon (as Waiter), Alphonse Martell (as French Waiter #2), Frank Mills (as Waiter), Ted Oliver (as Customs Inspector #3), Paul Porcasi (as French Headwaiter), Sonny Ray (Undetermined Role), Ronald R. Rondell (as Dancer in The Continental), Larry Steers (Extra), Mary Stewart (as Dancer / Singer), Cyril Thornton (as Customs Inspector #2), William Wagner (as Waiter), Florence Wix (Undetermined Role), Bruce Wyndham (Undetermined Role).
Ginger's Character: Mimi Glossop.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 42 Minutes and 8 Seconds (39.4% of the film).
GingerTunes: " The Continental".
GandF Dances: "Don't Let It Bother You" (Fred solo); "A Needle in a Haystack" (Fred solo); "Night and Day"; "The Continental"; "The Continental reprise (Dancing Departure)".
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 9.0 - ...approaching maximum Gingeryness... every facet of Ginger's persona is on display here...from the sassy dame playing 'hard to get', to the warm singing of the Continental, to the downright mad Mimi (when Guy makes the 'late night' call to Mimi's quarters), and obviously to the ethereal dance scenes...the full gamut of Ginger's 'modes' are on display in this film...and it's awesome. In fact, not sure where a '10.0' will occur, but maybe somewhere down the road...
Film Quality (1-10): 9.0 - Well-restored by WB.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: ...Well, this is the one we've all waited for... Ginger's first 'full affair' with Mr. Astaire is indeed a splendid time for all involved.
The Gay Divorcee starts, appropriately, in gay Paree, where American dancer Guy Holden (Fred Astaire) and his 'wanna-be' lawyer pal Egbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton) are in dire straits concerning a nightclub bill... to 'pay' it, Guy proposes a hoofing exhibition, which generally lets them off the hook, and generally confirms that this will indeed be a musical.
The two head back to London, which is Eggy's home base... well, as fate would have it, a enchantingly beautiful young lady named Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers, natch) and her beautifully scatterbrained aunt, Hortense Ditherwell (THERE'S an appropriate surname for ya), played superbly by Alice Brady, are headed into port at the same time. Well, we just HAVE to get these two kids together, right? (Guy and Mimi, not Eggy and Hortense...although that occurs later...)
The first meeting of Guy an Mimi is arguably my favorite 'introduction' between characters in the GandF franchise (with Petrov's rather brusk intro to Linda in 'Shall we Dance' being my fave...hey, this would make for a decent poll question...stay tuned on that, y'all...) - Mimi is 'fettered' (as opposed to that popular word in Hueydom, 'unfettered') to a steamer trunk...and Guy comes to the rescue, more or less... he 'loans' his coat to her to cover up, and as a 'bonus' ulterior motive, to somehow get her to return it to him and obtain her 'contact info'.
Well, she returns it, without any info... to which Guy bursts into song and dance, and the proverbial 'Needle in a Haystack' is documented.
Of course, improbabilities regarding chance meetings never get in the way of Ginger and Fred, right? So, Guy is driving around in his 1924 Smart car convertible, and 'bumps' into Mimi in her ultrafine 1929 Model J Duesenberg convertible (yeah, I'm gonna see that car one day soon, y'all...), which prompts her to take off like a bat out of the bad place... thus we witness the first documented GingerDrive on film - yeah, there's a lot of 'fake background' shots, but there are quite a few 'live' scenes as well...the scene where Ginger hangs a SHARP left, slinging dirt skyward, is quite impressive...probably wasn't her actually driving, but, then again, would ya be surprised?
...anyway, somehow Guy knows a 'shortcut' (...yeah, he's been in London for what, a few weeks now, so, he knows all the shortcuts, right? There's that 'improbabilities be danged' mantra again...) and he corrals Mimi, and proposes marriage then and there (dudes moved fast in that regard back then,,,especially when Ginger was the subject...) - well, Mimi takes off again, but is a BIT open to Guy, hinting at a future meeting (really?)...
Well, Mimi and Aunt H get down to business the next day, meeting with Eggy regarding their 'quest'...to set up Mimi with a 'correspondent' (yeah, I also thought that was a dude who reported news from other countries...), in order for her to receive a divorce from her crackpot husband, Cyril Glossop (William Austin), who doesn't want to divorce her (duh...).
Of course, Eggy and Aunt H have a 'past', which keeps the Eggster on edge for the rest of the film while she flirts with him (like EEH needs ANYTHING to get riled up about) - meanwhile, Guy, who is hanging around the hotel with Eggo, spies Mimi...and the chase is on...again. He runs her down at some beach house/dance floor/sound stage area, and proceeds to woo her into the perfection that is 'Night and Day'... this routine cements GandF as a team, regardless of Astaire's misgivings...you know, money talks... anyway, after the dance, Guy spouts off a phrase that is the 'password' for Mimi's correspondent, the eventual Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes) - of course Guy knows it from Eggstatic, who gave it to RT as well.
So, Mimi thinks Guy is the 'guy'...and tells him to show up at her room at midnight... of course Guy doesn't understand the invite, but is he turning it down? Errrrrrr...that would be a NO. The scene where Guy shows up and Mimi enters is classic...and really shows just how well these two work together, not only as a dance 'team'... of course, the misunderstanding is drug out as long as possible, and when Mimi finally figures out Guy is 'just a guy', and not THE 'guy', that's about the time RT shows up. Well, it ends up that Tonetti is 'locked in' for the assignment, but of course Guy is there for the duration as well... so, they in essence just 'hang out'...until Guy and Mimi sneak off to partake in the epic production number 'The Continental' (which Ginger sings so nicely, BTW.. hey, did she get an Oscar for her efforts? Most likely not... she MADE the tune, tho, y'all!)
Well, after the big routine, all parties hunker down for the evening...well, RT and Guy are on the couch and chair, of course... whilst Mimi slumbers alone.
Morning breaks, and all heck breaks loose, as the 'detectives' which were to pop into the room and catch Mimi and Tonetti together have been detained; however, against all limits of probability, Mr. Glossop himself (the crackpot) shows up instead... well, that should be a good stopping place for those of you who have yet to view this film... but, it's one that isn't much of a shocker at the end.
As I stated somewhere before, I believe this assembly of characters is my fave of all of the GandF films... Alice Brady in particular is awesome...wish she would have been in a few more of these, honestly...
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, this segment is almost a 'misnomer', anyway, as ALL Ginger moments are my fave! But, if I had to pick one scene, I think the 'endgame of the car chase' would be my fave, as Mimi shows her confident sassy side, while credit to Guy must be given as well, totally undaunted by Mimi's 'rebuffs'. Of course, the GandF dance scenes are in their own category, and are obviously the high points of ANY GandF film...that's what the whole film is built around, right?
As to a 'theme', well, one may be loosely woven within the caps, but many will be 'stand-alone', which will generally be the 'M.O' henceforth...although, for some reason...Star Trek comes to mind...go figure... I honestly know little or nothing about the show... (Huey's mind is a decidedly strange mechanism, y'all...) ...and before ya squawk about it, I took basically NO caps of the 'Night and Day' dance , as it could generally fill a post in and of itself... I DID, however, take a few from 'The Continental' dance, simply because I think that dress is my all-time fave on Ginger...hey, she used it for the cover of her bio, so, she must have liked it too, right?
...an awesome 'intro shot' of Ginger...
"...we're here for the Star Trek convention... my niece here is Missouri's most avid 'Trekker'!!!"
"er... ...guess I should have listened to Huey, and worn my Uhura costume..."
"...oh, hi, Kate... no, I'm OK...just...er...stretching a bit..." "...dang it, why does Hepburn ALWAYS stroll by when this kinda stuff happens to me?"
"...well, hello there, my little Trekkerette..."
"...caught in yer transponder again, eh?"
"...look, unless you can introduce me to William Shatner, there's really no point in you wasting my time, you hayseed!"
"um... wake up, Auntie... it's time to check out the Dr. Bones seminar regarding plastic surgery options for Klingons..."
"...caught in my transponder again...hmph! That halfwit's probably a "TNG" noob..."
"...look, it's Sulu and a bunch of Romulans... "
"...oof...those Romulan drinking songs are quite grating, dontchathink?"
"...listen, here's the deal..."
"...you're...just...strange...I mean, even with me being a Trekker and all, I find YOU even MORE strange..."
"...OK...well, if this info is TRUE...I'll get in touch with you at the hotel... but if it ISN'T... I'll whomp you into Deep Space Nine... "
...Another in the series of caps Ginger might not be fond of, but...are priceless to me... MIMI, indeed!
...well, THIS one is definitely a fetching shot of Ginger, but... my Ma LOATHES this dress...(as the 'Aunt Pitty-Pat' lady bellows in Rafter Romance..."I LOATHE that dress!!!")... and I SOMEWHAT concur, as the collar generally is...kinda...well, no other way to say it, y'all...kinda 'clownish'...as in 'like a clown outfit'. I kinda dig the hat, tho...
"...so, you're SURE Mr. Nimoy is gonna meet us here, Hortense?"
"...see, Mimi, I TOLD you I knew Leonard!"
"...well, I guess it's easy to take the word of a Spock 'look-alike'...but I knew the ears just weren't quite ' Vulcan-ish' enough..." (sorry...well, gotta get a local plug in SOMEWHERE, right? :-] )
"...now, that cat IS a dead-ringer for that old bit actor, Edward Everett Horton...you know, the skittish fellow in all of those old Ginger Rogers - Fred Astaire films... which were filmed at RKO Studios... which later became Desilu Studios... where the original Star Trek series was also filmed... ...so that's a 'full-circle' for you, eh?"
"...hold the phone, Auntie H..."
"...there's that fella that told me he has The Lost Episode!!!"
"...I knew you'd come calling, Mimi..."
"...not only do I have the ORIGINAL print of The Lost Episode, I ALSO have the ORIGINAL pair of Spock's prosthetic ears!"
"...where have you been all my life, mystery man?"
"...I guess...it would be asking too much to...you know...be able to view The Lost Episode..."
"...well, The Lost Episode is only available for a VERY select few fans to view..."
"...so, Guy.... er...it appears like our relationship is...um... at a..."...to boldly go..." moment, eh?"
"...well, I had to dance with that charlatan for half the night, but he is to bring The Lost Episode here any minute, for my viewing pleasure!!!"
"...I TOLD you I'd make some major advancements in my Trekkerdom on this trip!"
"...why, I even saw Scotty out in the lobby a bit ago signing autographs..."
"...and, ...and... one of those old chicks that were always giving status reports to Kirk..."
"...who am I kidding? This joker better come thru with The Lost Episode, else it will be the lamest convention to date... at least the worst since Shatner debuted his version of 'Rocket Man'..."
"...whattya mean, you FORGOT to bring The Lost Episode???"
"That's IT!!! I'm contacting The Federation and having you banned from future conventions, you Comic-Con reject!"
"Listen, Mimi...I can get it shipped here overnight...this time tomorrow you and I will be the ONLY two who have seen ALL of the original series episodes..."
"...which would automatically qualify you for free lifetime membership in the International Federation of Trekkers...not to mention the Starfleet..."
"...well, I guess I can wait another day, right?"
"...er, sorry about the 'Comic-Con' crack...I wouldn't wish that on ANYBODY..."
"...well, I had it coming to me... but hopefully the viewing of The Lost Episode will make up for all I've put you thru... er, in the meantime, wanna dance?"
"...but first, let me cut this coupon out...it entitles the bearer to attend a free seminar by Enterprise ensign Pavel Chekov...you know, the fellow who replaced Sulu in Season Two...but, hey, you know all of that anyway, right? If not, you can just Wiki it, like the TNG noobs do..."
...one of my favorite little caps, with Fred kissing Ginger's hand...well, the second just before that... I didn't realize until now they do this little 'move' twice in the dance... guess they dug it as well, eh?
...just a cool 'mid-air' cap here...
...love Ginger's hair when it flies up...
...another nice poster op...those dudes doing posters need to wake up, y'know?
"...so, if you guys could hang out and help me when this guy from the 'Battlestar Galactica' cult shows up...he's a chump I went to high school with, and he's been trying to convert me to the world of 'BG' ever since... but if he sees how 'intense' of a Trekker I am, maybe he'll leave me alone once and for all..."
"...so, Tonetti, YOU have to pretend you are Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek franchise..."
"...and YOU, Mr. Holden, are to be Captain Kirk himself..."
"(off-screen): ...but, scuse-a-pleese...Tonetti - he no can speak-a this a-WAY!"
"look, I'm on my way to Galacticon, but just thought I'd drop by and try to 'de-program' you away from these Trek Neanderthals... ...and although I know NOTHING about this meaningless little show you idolize...even EYE know that's NOT Gene Roddenberry!"
"...SURE it is! He's had a little work done, but... he's still 'Rowdy Roddy!'"
...well, just to verify, folks have said GandF never kissed on-screen...er, this one technically qualifies...well, wait a minute, tho...he pretty much is 'on the cheek' here, so...maybe this DOESN'T really count...never mind...
"...listen... ...Mimi... ...doesn'twanttohear... ...allofyourGalacticadrivel... ...forshe... ...isabouttobecome... ...aHighPriestessoftheFederation!"
"...and as future High Priestess, I decree that no Battlestar Galactica wingnut shall be allowed on the premises..."
"...Mr. Spock, set phasers to... "
Narrator: "...and so, Guy received The Lost Episode, Mimi viewed The Lost Episode, and all was so grand and splendiforous that they were married on the spot, by one of the many William Shatner impersonators hanging out in the main hotel lobby...as Kirk is a Captain, he is allowed to perform marriage ceremonies, and, by proxy, even one of his impersonators can, in a convention setting (see Rule 27-4(b) of the Federation Code)...Guy and Mimi currently reside somewhere in the Oregon wilderness, and have taken a shine to 'Squatch hunting'...
Mr. Tonetti was converted to Galacitcism by Cyril, thus renouncing Trekdom in toto, which included the painful removal of a rather discreet 'Spock' tattoo on his person... it is not known as to Tonetti's current whereabouts, although Cyril has been sited in Cleveland, Ohio on a few occasions, in full Cylon regalia...
Aunt Hortense went on to marry the Spock impersonator, and they currently reside in relative seclusion on the outskirts of Piscataway, and have been the subject of more than one of the episodes of the hit cable TV series, 'Hoarders'."
...and a nice little 'final twist' to the proceedings... live long and prosper, y'all... Hu.
"Ginger Rogers, who developed into a charming comedienne as well as the screen's most able song-and-dance entertainer, has no little to do with the picture's merriment." - New York Sun
"Last season it was the Carioca which persuaded the foolhardy to bash their heads together. Now the athletic RKO-Radio strategists have created the Continental, an equally strenuous routine in which you confide your secret dreams to your partner under the protective camouflage of the music... Both as a romantic comedian and as a lyric dancer, Mr. Astaire is an urbane delight, and Miss Rogers keeps pace with him even in his rhythmic flights over the furniture." - New York Times
"As in Flying Down to Rio, Miss Rogers proves herself the nearest thing that Astaire has had to a partner since sister Adele took leave of him. Her dancing in Night and Day and in a seductive number called Continental is distinguished in its grace and felicitous rhythm." - New York Evening Post
From GINGER: My Story: "With a new contract under my belt, and a hefty raise, I began The Gay Divorcee in June 1934. More than just a successful sequel to Flying Down to Rio, this film was affirmation of RKO's belief that "Ginger and Fred" were big box office."
--- This was the first of twenty films in a row Ginger would make for RKO Radio Pictures.
--- Ginger actually drove her own car in this film, the 1929 Model J Duesenberg... in case ya missed it, here's a post back from the first of the year about the car, which is still with us today...and yeah, I'd give WAY more than I actually have for that baby, y'all... Ginger's Duesenberg .
--- The song 'The Continental' (music - Con Conrad, lyrics - Herb Magidson) won the very first 'Best Song' Oscar for 1934...strangely enough, one of the other songs nominated for the award was 'The Carioca', from 1933's Flying Down to Rio.
--- The film was also nominated for four other Academy Awards in 1934, including Best Picture, Art Direction, Music Scoring, and Sound Recording.
--- The producers originally wanted Helen Broderick for the role of Hortense, but she wasn't available. I'd say Alice Brady filled in quite nicely...
--- The film was adopted from the stage play 'The Gay Divorce', but the title had to be changed to 'The Gay Divorcee', since divorce was a bit more 'controversial' back then, evidently.
--- If the jumpsuit that Betty Grable 'knocks knees' with EEH in looks familiar, that's because it appeared on Dolores Del Rio in 'Flying Down to Rio' hmmm...wonder where THAT garment is, and how many $$$ is it worth?
--- Erik Rhodes also played Tonetti in the stage play 'The Gay Divorce'.
--- 'The Continental' sequence(s), which clocks in at almost 18 minutes, was the longest musical number in a film, until Gene Kelly's 18-1/2 minute ballet number in An American In Paris occurred in 1951.
GingerFilm Ranking: #01 of 27. Not even close...my favorite Ginger character to date...period. Her overall persona just radiates in this one...Sandrich may have been a goob, but he did capture Ginger well for this film...the 'impromptu picnic' scene has Ginger with enough spunk to really push it to the top in and of itself...
Of course, some credit must be given to Freddie, as they just work well together... but Mimi is sassy enough in the 'courting' part of the film to give it the top spot.
After Twenty-Six Reviews:
#01 - The Gay Divorcee
#02 - Rafter Romance
#03 - Professional Sweetheart
#04 - 42nd Street
#05 - Flying Down to Rio
#06 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#07 - Sitting Pretty
#08 - The Tenderfoot
#09 - The Tip-Off
#10 - Upper World
#11 - Queen High
#12 - Change of Heart
#13 - Young Man of Manhattan
#14 - You Said A Mouthful
#15 - Carnival Boat
#16 - A Shriek in the Night
#17 - The Thirteenth Guest
#18 - Don't Bet On Love
#19 - Chance at Heaven
#20 - Finishing School
#21 - Broadway Bad
#22 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#23 - The Sap From Syracuse
#24 - Suicide Fleet
#25 - Follow The Leader
#26 - Honor Among Lovers
#27 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Romance In Manhattan... .Ginger jumps back into the 'solo' side of things, in a nice little film co-starring Francis Lederer... from what I remember, Ginger is a 'no nonsense' girl here, not overtly sassy, but still quite enjoyable...
Until then, as always...