Sunday, December 18, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #18 - Sitting Pretty
Run Time (approximate): 75 Minutes
Directed by: Harry Joe Brown.
Producer: Charles R. Rogers.
Screenplay: Jack McGowan, S.J. Perelman and Lou Breslow.
Based on a Story by: Nina Wilcox Putnam.
Photography by: Milton R. Krasner.
Art Director: David Garber.
Costumes: Travis Banton.
Sound Recorder: Jack A. Goodrich.
Choreography: Larry Ceballos.
Orchestrator: Howard Jackson.
Also Starring: Jack Oakie (as Chick Parker), Jack Haley (as Pete Pendleton), Gregory Ratoff (as Tannenbaum), Thelma Todd (as Gloria Duval), Lew Cody (as Jules Clark), Jerry Tucker (as Buzz), Helen Pickens (as one of the Pickens Sisters), Jane Pickens (as one of the Pickens Sisters), Patti Pickens (as one of the Pickens Sisters).
UNCREDITED CAST: Irving Bacon (as Dice Player), Wade Boteler (as Jackson), Sidney Bracey (as Manager), Harry C. Bradley (as Set Designer), George Brasno (as a Neighbor), Olive Brasno (as a Neighbor), James P. Burtis (as Mover Foreman), Harvey Clark (as Motorist), Charles Coleman (as Butler), William B. Davidson (as Director), Mack Gordon (as Song Publisher), Frank Hagney (as Bar Manager), Henry Hall (as Party Guest), Hale Hamilton (as Vinton), Stuart Holmes (as Dice Player), Peaches Jackson (as Chorus Girl), Arthur Jarrett (as Singer), Fuzzy Knight (as Stock Clerk), Frank LaRue (as Studio Gateman), Rollo Lloyd (as Director), Mae Madison (as Chorus Girl), Joyce Mathews (as Blonde Chorus Girl), Lee Moran (as Assistant Director), Jack Mower (as Clark's Aide), Anne Nagel (as Girl at Window), Dave O'Brien (as Assistant Cameraman), Lee Phelps (as Studio Aide), Russ Powell (as Counterman), Harry Revel (as Pianist), Virginia Sale (as Old Maid), Helen Splane (as Chorus Girl), Larry Steers (as Party Guest), Ben Taggart (as Cop), Phil Tead (as Aide), Kenneth Thomson (as Norman Lubin), Walter Walker (as George Wilson), Charles Williams (as Neighbor).
Ginger's Character: Dorothy.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 14 Minutes and 18 Seconds (19.4% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?", "Good Morning Glory", "There's a Bluebird At My Window", "You're Such a Comfort To Me".
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 7.0 - A pretty 'straight' role for Ginger, but she does get to sing a good bit, and the "...Dream Walking" number at the end really ranks up there with her top musical moments ever...not necessarily due to the song, but...due to the 'maximum Ginger'...
Film Quality (1-10): 6.5 - The saga of the 'film quality' pertaining to this one is interesting...the copy I originally obtained from the internet (via eBay) yielded an almost unwatchable experience, and would be at 2 or 3 at best on this scale... but fellow Gingerologists have obtained a much cleaner copy, which is awesome compared to the eBay copy...but even the 'cleaner' one is a bit rough in spots...the most gut wrenching moment (for me, anyway) is when Ginger is singing her 'close-up solo' on "...Dream Walking" (it's truly epic), and just before she finishes her last line, it 'skips' into the choreography scene... strangely enough, this happens on each of the copies I've discussed, so the 'cleaner' copy is evidently just a 'cleaned' version of the 'bad' copy...
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: ...This is a pretty good little movie, in my honest opinion (as if all of my opinions to this point have been dishonest...). It straddles the line between musical and 'drama', which could be a tricky deal at times; the 'transitional' aspect here works in that the two main characters are songwriters, thus apt to break out in song at any given moment.
About those two songwriters... we begin in New York City, where Chick Parker (Jack Oakie) is a fair-to-middling musician in a recording studio. He is generally dissatisfied with the lyricists he has to work with, and ends up using the mail clerk's lyrics... which result in a song that sells. Thus, Chick strikes up a partnership with said clerk, Pete Pendleton (Jack Haley), and also convinces him that Hollywood would be a better place to hawk tunes, for the movie studios.
Trouble is, Chick is pretty flippant with his dough, and generally throws it away in crap shoots (see last review...the 'get rich quick via wagering' mantra was evidently a big deal back in the early 30's...) As a result, Chick has no cash to get to Hollywood, and persuades Pete to cough up the dough (hey, they are a 'team' now...) . Of course, Chick takes Pete's dough and throws it away gambling as well... thus the two end up hitchhiking to Hollywood... Chick is a 'real winner', it appears, while Pete is very level-headed - so, the two should yin-yang out enough to be fair songwriting partners.
Along the way to La-La Land, they stop in a joint that just happens to be run by a sweet little gal named Dorothy (no last name given...) (Ginger Rogers) - who has a kid brother named Buzz, who plays the 'cute bratty kid that antagonizes everyone'...yeah, THAT kid.
Of course, C&P's main need at this point is money, so they hit Dorothy up for some $$$, as Chick uses the "I'm a songwriter for movies!" line on her; she proves to be too trusting for her own good, coughing up the dough so C&P can continue on to Hollywood... Chick tells Dorothy to meet them out there whenever she can break away from the shop. Well, that proves pretty easy after a few weeks, as the $$$ she gave them ends up being what she needed to keep the place afloat...
So, Dorothy and the Buzzer kid find C&P in Hollywood, living in a bungalow (which may be pretty dang close to the Garden of Allah joint that Ginger and Lela started out in when they moved to LA...) - and subsequently they all end up 'shacking up' together... well, in a 'communal' sense, anyway... in order to stay off the streets. Odd jobs for the gang barely keep them afloat...
When Chick and Pete first hit H-town, they had hooked up with an deranged mental patient (in Hollywood? Really?) whose handlers drive him around town on occasion to humor him and his delusion of being a big Hollywood producer (your tax dollars at work, eh?) - and of course, C&P thought he was the real deal, and the loon ripped them off a big 'advance' check, which is probably still bouncing. Thus, they thought they were 'in business' with a studio, only to find out that wasn't the case.
The rest of the movie, they try to wedge their way into a gig, and end up doing so, when one of their 'impromptu' studio auditions catches the ear of the resident starlet, Gloria Duval (played nicely by Thelma Todd) - and Chick makes the 'move' on her, thus landing the gig (among other things...) . Of course, Dorothy is of the opinion that Chick has the hots for her, but he has 'moved on', hitching his wagon to Gloria's vain star - which requires that he dump Dorothy AND Pete...
Well, situations tend to fluctuate, and of course that applies in this case for Chick, as things move a bit too fast for him to keep up with. A pretty neat scene is when the collection dudes are toting stuff out of Chick's posh living quarters, and he is playing a melancholy tune all the while... until they tote the piano off...this scene was pretty well laid out, in my honest (there's that word again) opinion...
Anyway, once Chick is bounced, he crawls back to Pete, and the whole thing ends up pretty much the way ya expect it to... with Dorothy becoming a star performer of C&P's ditties, culminating in what proves to be Ginger's most breathtaking performance to date (well, in Huey's opinion, anyway..honest or otherwise.)
Favorite Ginger Moments: Ginger plays a VERY sweet girl who wants to see the dudes do well in their pursuit of landing a songwriting gig... the 'prime' Gingery moment in this one is the finale, as Ginger sings thru "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?" in an achingly beautiful and cute manner...could well be my favorite performance she has had to date in the reviews...and yes, that includes 'We're In The Money', y'all... Here we go with the pics...
Well...to end on a happier note, I am going to have another post here in a few which will be nothing more than Ginger in the 'Did You Ever See a Dream Walking' scene... Hu pushed the limits of screen caps for that sequence, so those pics will be given their own entry...no text or anything, just pics... stay tuned.
"Ginger Rogers is the heroine and she is sittin' pretty again as to looks and general capability." - New York Sun
"Miss Rogers is always one of the pleasures of the cinema; a girl who combines looks, grace and an unaffected wit." - New York Herald Tribune
"Ginger Rogers deserves a bouquet for the excellent way she puts over a song in close-up. A difficult feat, which she accomplishes amazingly, without awkwardness or grimacing." - Hollywood Screen World
"Ginger Rogers plays the feminine lead in capable fashion, providing the romantic interest and singing several tunes in her most vivacious manner." - Los Angeles Times
"The girls help lots, too, with the attractive Ginger having an edge over the curvaceous Thelma." - New York American
From GINGER: My Story: "The RKO brass was willing to lend me out to Paramount, right next door, because my role wasn't the feminine lead. I was working on one picture at RKO and then hastening next door to Paramount in my "spare time". The quickest way for me to go to and fro was by bicycle, and I spent the next few weeks wheeling from studio to studio.
In Sitting Pretty I had three songs. I liked two of them and had enough gumption to say I didn't like the third. I really stood my ground and refused to sing it. (I wish I'd been as firm about some other things during my career!) The producers gave in. I was told I could choose my third number from a stack of music in the corner of the room. This pile seemed to contain all the songs rejected over the past two years. I wondered if I'd find anything among the castoffs. I worked through the pile of songs and then saw a title that appealed to me. Scanning the music, I realized this discard was far superior to the one I'd originally been given. I sang it in the film and it proved to be a hit. In time it became a standard. I was proud of my choice, "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?"
--- Ginger's first movie for Paramount's Hollywood Studio.
--- Jack Haley would ultimately become the Wizard of Oz's Tin Man.
--- Ginger's last musical prior to her pairing with Fred Astaire.
--- Released in Portugal in 1936 with the title "Sonhos de Gloria".
GingerFilm Ranking: #03 of 19...Ginger's singing and finale number, coupled with her general role as a sweetheart, ends up pretty high on the list. It is actually a bit of a conundrum, as Ginger is really not overtly sassy in this one, but is about as sweet as you would ever hope for, which is pretty breathtaking at times (for Huey, anyway...) Overall, this one is a MUST for Gingerologists...REALLY wish they would clean this one up for an 'Archive' collection... Paramount has some 'classics' currently out on DVD, but haven't delved into the 30's, unfortunately...c'mon, dudes - time's-a-wastin'!!!
After Seventeen Reviews:
#01 - Professional Sweetheart
#02 - 42nd Street
#03 - Sitting Pretty
#04 - The Tenderfoot
#05 - The Tip-Off
#06 - Queen High
#07 - Young Man of Manhattan
#08 - You Said A Mouthful
#09 - Carnival Boat
#10 - A Shriek in the Night
#11 - The Thirteenth Guest
#12 - Don't Bet On Love
#13 - Broadway Bad
#14 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#15 - The Sap From Syracuse
#16 - Suicide Fleet
#17 - Follow The Leader
#18 - Honor Among Lovers
#19 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Flying Down To Rio... Got a feeling this one will be second only to 'Professional Sweetheart' in terms of overall Gingery goodness... just the 'Music Makes Me' number alone puts it pretty high... but then again, 'We're in the Money' didn't get '33 too far up the ladder, so...it's going to be an interesting pick... Hey, I'm just glad to be getting into the Freddie movies...making some headway, right?
Until then, as always...