Recommended Ginger Rogers Films

Ginger Rogers

When we think of Ginger Rogers, we immediately associate her with dancing and her equally famous dance partner, Fred Astaire. But the fact is that Ginger was not just a dancer, although it was her gift. She was also a great actress, able to balance dramatic roles (she won an Academy Award after all) and comedy equally. Without a doubt, Ginger was a triple threat and I have picked a few films showcasing her fine work as a dancer and an actress, films you should not miss.

“Flying Down To Rio” (1933). This is the first film Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire ever partnered with in this lighthearted musical. Originally, Ginger and Fred were only supposed to be dance partners in this film but because of the reviews and how much the audience loved them together, an immortal dance duo was born. Before this film, Ginger never danced with a partner before, but as Fred was quoted saying in “Dancing on Astaire”, “In the beginning she faked it an awful lot. She couldn’t tap and she couldn’t do this and that…but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong.”

“42nd Street” (1933). This musical film was Ginger’s breakthrough as she portrayed Ann “Anytime Annie” Lowell as a chorine who takes Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler), under her wing. It’s a real treat to watch, not only the film that brought Ginger to the attention of the movie studios and the timeless Busby Berkley numbers.

“Stage Door” (1937). Adapted from the play, it is a drama about the experiences of aspiring actresses. A perfect mirror of life imitating art as the ensemble cast including Ginger, Katherine Hepburn and Lucille Ball, were all just beginning their careers.

“Bachelor Mother” (1939). In this lighthearted comedy, Ginger Rogers plays Polly, a recently fired department salesgirl who sees someone abandon their child on the steps of an orphanage. She is immediately mistaken as the child’s mother as she approaches the little bundle and the door to the orphanage opens to her. David Niven co-stars as the department store manager’s playboy son who feels sorry for the “unwed mother” and helps her get her job back. Polly is forced to allow everyone to believe that she is the mother until the truth is revealed.

“Kitty Foyle” (1940) was the film in which Ginger won her Best Actress statuette for her portrayal as the title character, Kitty. Based on the novel by Christopher Morley, “Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of A Woman”, the film portrays the point-of-view of a white-collar girl named Kitty who falls in love with a socialite. The role was originally offered to Katherine Hepburn but she turned it down before it was offered to Ginger.

“Monkey Business” (1952). Directed by Howard Hawks, Grant portrays “Dr. Barnaby Fulton”, a research chemist who is working on a fount of of youth pill. When Fulton accidentally drinks it through a lab mishap, his wife Edwina (Rogers), wants to try the elixir too. Of course, hilarious ensues. The pairing of Ginger and Cary Grant in this screwball comedy is pure magic. Their chemistry and timing is so in synch, it’s a real shame they were not able to be more comedies together, aside from “Once Upon a Honeymoon” (1942).

 

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Cocktails Inspired by Hollywood

Everyone knows the Shirley Temple Cocktail was inspired by the famous curly-head cutie from the 1930s. But did you know that ‘The Love Goddess’ Rita Hayworth may have been the inspiration for the Margarita? Here’s some information about these cocktails and more.

Most cocktails were invented in hotels the stars frequented – the kid-friendly Shirley Temple Cocktail was one of them. When asked about the cocktail, Temple dislikes it because it’s too sweet. The Mary Pickford Cocktail, a mixture of light rum, pineapple juice, grenadine and maraschino cherry juice is another, supposedly invented in Cuba at the Hotel Nacional.

Ironically, some stars who were not heavy drinkers inspired cocktails– Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Mary Pickford’s husband was one of them. The actor never touched any heavy liqueur. Another teetotaler was Mae West – her cocktail includes an egg yolk, powdered sugar and brandy, then optionally dashed with some cayenne pepper. Sounds delicious, does it not?

Several bartenders claim they created the Margarita. One such claimant, Enrique Bastate Gutierrez, insists he created it for a young talented girl named Margarita Cansino who used to dance at the Foreign Club in Tijuana, Mexico. The young Margarita would later change her name and become “Rita Hayworth,” the legendary star we know and love.

Some classic stars have managed to give us unforgettable performances while simply ordering a drink. Who could forget Greta Garbo’s first spoken lines from “Anne Christie” (1930) “Give me a whiskey, ginger ale on the side…and don’t be stingy, baby. Garbo has a cocktail named after her as well. Perhaps next time “Red Dust” (1932) starring Jean Harlow is on, mix yourself the Jean Harlow cocktail, containing light rum and vermouth, and toast a sip to her when she says, “Mind if I get drunk with you?”

Today, Hollywood continues to inspire bartenders around the world. Recently, Cambodia has named a cocktail after Angelina Jolie. Four-time Oscar winning film “The Departed” (2006) recently inspired a drink called “The Departini” as well as Oscar-nominated “Atonement” (2008) with a drink called “Atone-mint.”

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Ann Blyth on Joan Crawford

Joan teaches Ann how to knit on set of “Mildred Pierce.”

Based on the novel of the same name by James M. Cain, “Mildred Pierce” starred Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott and Eve Arden. It is often described as a film noir because as the film opens, Mildred, a highly successful restaurant owner is being interrogated for the murder of her second husband Monte Beragon.

The film then commences into a flashback of how Mildred came to where she is now, with the focus being on her determination as a mother to provide everything for her daughters when Mildred separates from her first husband.

At the center of this film is the theme of of the mother-daughter relationship between Mildred and Veda (played by Ann Blyth). It is one of the classic tension-filled relationships ever shown on screen with one of the most famous face-slaps heard ’round the world.

With all of the negative press surrounding Joan Crawford, thanks to Christina Crawford’s memoir “Mommie Dearest”, it would be assumed that Ann Blyth would have something just as unfavorable to dent Crawford’s legacy with. But if there were any, Blyth hasn’t revealed anything.

For Turner Classic Movies, Crawford’s onscreen daughter narrated a 5-minute tribute about Crawford. The first day they met, was on the day of Blyth’s screentest when Crawford insisted on being a part of it in order to see if they had the right chemistry for the picture. Based on what the studios and Crawford must have seen, Blyth got the part, winning out actresses like Shirley Temple at the time.

Joan Crawford with Ann on Oscar night when Joan won for “Mildred Pierce.”

Above all else, Blyth remembers Crawford as someone who was dedicated to her craft and remained a good friend of Blyth’s until Crawford’s passing in 1977.

In a 2007 interview with Eddie Muller, Blyth was asked about how many takes the “slap” took, Blyth couldn’t remember. Only she does remember it was real. Real enough to knock Crawford off her feet as shown in the final cut of the film.

In the same interview, Blyth was asked how from being such a sweet person real life, was she able to create such a repulsive character as “Veda” and Blyth responded with, “I think you just dig down into your deeper self and we all have a deeper darker place.”

For her incredible performance as “Veda”, Blyth was nominated for an Oscar in her supporting role along with Eve Arden, who played Mildred’s friend and boss, in the same category. The film was nominated for a total of six Oscars but won only one for Joan Crawford in “Best Actress” category.

In 2011, HBO premiered a 5-part mini-series of “Mildred Pierce.” Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet and Evan Rachel Wood are in the title roles as the famous mother-daughter duo. However, it will be mighty difficult to outperform Ann Blyth and Joan Crawford in terms of chemistry and tension.

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Bette Davis’ Dispute With Warner Bros.

Today actors are considered “freelance” and have the freedom of signing with any production for any motion picture they feel they are inclined to do. Currently, more actors are opening their own production companies to better suit the needs of their films. However, it was not always like this. In Hollywood’s golden age, motion picture studios and the studio heads were in charge of the stars’ careers believing they had their stars best interest in mind. This was not the case for Bette Davis when she was in contract with Warner Bros. Studio.

It is a well-known rule not to “bite the hand that feeds you” in the dawn of any actress’s career but Davis made it more of a guideline than an actual rule. During Davis’ five-year contract at Warner Bros., Davis was given pitifully small roles before and after she received critical acclaim for her role as “Mildred Rogers” in “Of Human Bondage” (1934). Despite receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as “Joyce Heath” in “Dangerous” (1936), Warner Bros. remained short-sighted.

In 1937, Davis found more suitable film roles in England and agreed to take them despite the decision breaching her studio contract. When Warner Bros. received word of this, Davis took them to court no matter how feeble of a chance she had to win the lawsuit. The case was not viewed in favor of Davis’ fight for better roles, but as a dispute over her salary. Davis lost the case and returned to Hollywood. By 1939, Davis was considered “The Fifth Warner,” earned numerous Academy Awards for her work and was Warner Bros. most profitable stars.

In her 1970-1971 interviews on “The Dick Cavett Show,” Davis openly talked about the lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Jack Warner, “. . .I was fighting for good directors and good scripts. Literally, that’s all I cared about because money always followed. . .”

In the same interview, Davis expressed that her relationship with Warner was a respectful relationship because she was honest with him. She also revered the masterminds that were the studio heads, “…They seemed to us [actors] so inartistic and so lacking in knowledge of the art part of making a movie. They had something.”

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