Chapter 8

Chapter 8
Marriage and Stardom

Flying Down to Rio December 29, 1933

Ginger’s next picture knocks her and Fred Astaire into the stratosphere and beyond.  It is Flying Down to Rio.  This film would be forgettable if it was not for the pairing of Ginger (Honey Hale) and Fred (Fred Ayres).  Fred had been in Dancing Lady without any fireworks but there was something audiences saw in Ginger and Fred when they were on the screen together.  The audiences in the theaters stood and applauded loudly as they watched Fred and Ginger dance the Carioca.  Ginger sings Music Makes Me in a very revealing outfit while she gestures suggestively but not with vulgarity.  Ginger shows her ability to vamp it up a bit with style.  The stars of the show were Dolores del Rio, Gene Raymond, and Raul Roulien.  Ginger billed fourth in front of fifth billed Fred Astaire.  Ginger and Fred stole the show from its stars with their dancing and winning banter throughout the film.  The film ends with a shot of Ginger and Fred not the stars.
Ginger and Fred worked tirelessly on their dance and had fun reminiscing about the old days in New York.  Neither Fred nor Ginger thought they had done anything special.  Nor did they think this picture would lead to a string of highly successful movies as a team let alone become dancing gods.  Ginger helped Fred with the technical aspects of filmmaking and delivering dialogue for the camera and Fred helped Ginger get back into dancing shape again.  She had not danced much since her Broadway days.  Fred was disheartened when he went to London and performed in The Gay Divorce.  He seemed to have given up on a career in the movies.  He would wait until he heard from Pan Berman on how well “Rio” did.  Ginger went on to her next assignment while the studio was still oblivious to what a gem they had in Ginger.
I have read several different scenarios about how Ginger ended up in the movie.  She was not part of the original cast.  Dorothy Jordan married the producer Merian C. Cooper.  Therefore, the search went on for a replacement.  During conversations with Mr. Astaire, the idea of him dancing with a partner had come up.  Someone said, “Doesn’t Ginger Rogers dance?”  To which Fred replied, “Of course she does.”  Fred is purported to have been extremely frustrated with not being able to find an actress with whom he could dance with.  One day when things were not going well, he asked in exasperation, “Where is Ginger Rogers? Isn’t she on this lot?”  Some say that the pairing was purely accidental.  Regardless of how they got together in that brief moment when Ginger and Fred danced to the Carioca musicals were forever changed.
Ginger and Fred just looked good together from the beginning.  It did not matter whether they were singing, dancing, or sharing dialogue there was something indescribable about them.  It was awe-inspiring and the audiences recognized it by applauding aloud once Ginger and Fred started to dance.  As Ginger and Fred get up to dance the Carioca she says, “We’ll show them a thing or three.” They certainly did.  They still are showing us “a thing or three” because they are matchless and no one will be able to come close to what they gave us up there on the screen.  They have become immortal.

“Upperworld” April 28, 1934

In the opening credits, Lilly is spelled with the double “ll” but on the marquee and sign, Lily is spelled with a single “l”.  Ginger plays a burlesque queen with a tantalizing flair.
Lily Linda (Ginger Rogers) is rescued by Alexander Stream (Warren William) while swimming in the river.  She is thrown a life preserver and is hauled aboard Mr. Stream’s vessel.  Alex takes her home and they get along relatively well as she fixes him breakfast and they sing Who Is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf causing Mr. Stream to be late for an important meeting concerning his railroad merger.  Mrs. Stream (Mary Astor) is too busy climbing the society ladder to be bothered by her husband and son.  She sends their son (Dickie Moore) off to camp and continues to ignore her husband.
Alex finds himself at loose ends as his wife has other plans even though it is their fourteenth wedding anniversary.  He goes for a drive around town with his chauffeur Oscar (Andy Devine) as he sits in the front seat.  Mr. Stream notices a theatre poster advertising Lily Linda and her show Manhattan Scandals.  Lily sings and presents Shake Your Powder Puff provocatively in a very scanty see-through outfit while she uses her powder puff on Mr. Stream and Oscar.  Upon her retreat down the runway, Lily throws an invite to Mr. Stream by taking off her garter and throwing it to him.  Mr. Stream takes her up on her invitation and takes her to the restaurant where he had planned to take his wife to celebrate their anniversary.
Lou Colima (J Carroll Naish) is Lily’s shady and possessive boyfriend suggests she makes a play for Alex.  You never know where it might lead.  In the process, Lily falls in love with Alex.  He sets her up in an apartment and buys her jewelry.  Lily is a kept woman and in the midst of an affair with Mr. Stream.  Lou does not like what he sees and warns Lily not to double cross him by falling in love with his pigeon.
Lou sees his opportunity for blackmail and does not want Lily to mess up his plans.  Lou wants the pictures and letters Lily has of Alex and her.  Lily tries to hide the evidence and picks up a gun, which Lou takes away from her as he slaps her so hard she falls to the floor.  Alex shows up and Lou pursues his blackmail scheme.  Alex feels like a fool even though Lily declares her undying love for him.  Lily pleads her case tearfully explaining Lou stole the letters and photos from her.  The two men quarrel leading to pistols being drawn and fired.  In Lily’s last act of sacrifice and love, she steps in front of Alex, takes the bullet for him, and dies.  Alex is eventually found not guilty of killing Lou as Lou shot first and killed Lily.  Therefore, Alex and Hettie go off into the sunset with their renewed love in each other.  The ending is very dissatisfying.
 The film would have been more compelling if Mary Astor and Ginger shared a scene as the jilted wife and the idealistic young mistress slash showgirl.  The relationship between Lily and Alex needed added depth with more screen time showing them together.  What was in the letters Alex wrote?  Where did they go to enjoy the few moments of happiness they shared in the pictures Lily cherished.  Lily’s devotion and Alex’s betrayal would have rung truer if their affair was given time on screen to evolve.  Alex should have gone to prison for his misdeed while his wife mends her ways and silently waits for him.  I usually end my viewing with Ginger’s death.  The movie begins to fall apart at that point.  This is the only film in which Ginger dies.  It ends her days of being on the screen scantly clothed. 

Finishing School May 4, 1934

This is a story about a young woman, Virginia Radcliff (Frances Dee), who enrolls in a snobbish girls’ finishing school that is all about fitting into society with propriety.  She is roomed with Cecilia ‘Pony’ Ferris (Ginger) who feels that anything goes as long as you do not get caught or embarrass the school.  On one of Pony’s adventures into the city, Virginia meets an intern, Ralph McFarland (Bruce Cabot) who moonlights as a waiter in the hotel.  This is a Frances Dee movie and Ginger interjects moments of humor and tomfoolery.  Billie (Dawn O’Day who changes her name to Anne Shirley when she plays the title character in Anne of Green Gables) wants to fit in with the older girls and is a tolerated pest.  In one scene, she explains to Pony her desire to borrow one of her brassieres.  She is visiting a friend’s home over the weekend and when the maid unpacks her clothes it would be too awfully humiliating if she did not have a brassiere.  Pony throws her one and tells her “it is like putting a saddle on a Pekingese.”  The Catholic Church banned the movie because Virginia is pregnant and not wedded.  McFarland comes to the rescue at Pony’s insistence as he has been banned from the school, and takes Virginia away to be his wife.  Billie Burke is Virginia’s mother and Beulah Bondi is the rigid headmistress.
I had always wonder why some of Ginger’s scenes from Gold Diggers of 1933 found the cutting room floor when I came across the following article Ginger Fights for Her Rights! by James Marian Screenland September 1934.
The author begins by explaining how Ginger had filmed scenes where she had sang and danced in Gold Diggers and fully expected to see herself up on the screen as she watched the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  The film starts out with her fabulous rendition of We’re in the Money but as the movie begins to progress she notices some missing scenes in particular her singing I’ve Got to Sing a Torch Song atop a black piano wearing a very alluring outfit.  Ginger knew she had done a first-class job as she had viewed the daily rushes.  When the film ended those singing and dancing scenes were gone.  She had been asked to sign a long-term contract, and she had refused to do so.  Could this be the reason the scenes are missing.  If only those scenes would have been included, Ginger’s talent and star would have started to ascend quicker.  As it was, her interpretation of the opening song while singing the second verse in Pig Latin has become a classic.  Ginger was beginning to be noticed by the studios.
The article goes on to explain the studio heads sent a messenger to ask Ginger’s permission to use those deleted scenes, which cost them a small fortune to film, in another movie.  They would even pay her for the privilege.  They offered upwards to ten thousand dollars.  Now, Miss Rogers needed the added funds but she was not one to be taken advantage of and refused the offer.  Can you image someone who could not be bought in Hollywood?  After all, could she not see the upside to her career when the public would see these scenes?  Oh, how I wish I could view those scenes!  What a find it would be!  I have heard her rendition of I’ve a Got a Torch Song to Sing and it is captivating.  I do not know if this happened because Ginger does not mention it in her book, which gives this some credence as Ginger, was never one to bemoan the injustices in her life but look forward and went on with her life.  I have also seen reference to these deleted scenes in other articles of the time.  Because Ginger did not play by the rules of Hollywood she loss some opportunities but at least right or wrong she was true to herself and I admire that quality in her.
The article continues to tell how Ginger has pursued her own path and has become a favorite among youngsters, college students, and the public.  A theatre in San Francisco booked Stingaree and the studio had sent a dozen actors to help kick it off.  The next engagement was Finishing School, which is a “B” movie but had one ingredient the other picture did not have.  It was Ginger Rogers.  The theatre manager flashed Ginger’s name in big letters on the marquee and in all advertisements.  It worked and the box office take was only a few dollars short of the previous engagement.  Now, that is star power, especially when Ginger is not the main focus of this film and plays the second female lead.  Besides Finishing School is the better film.

20 Million Sweethearts April 27, 1934 New York City, New York

Ginger finds herself teamed with Dick Powell (Buddy Clayton) and Pat O’Brien (Rush Blake).  Peggy Cornell (Ginger) is a radio star and sings a tantalizing song called Out For No Good.  Rush comes across a singing waiter by the name of Buddy.  Buddy sings The Flying Trapeze with exceptional gusto meant for the rowdiness of a café and not that of the genteel Lady Carlotta’s program on the radio.  Rush takes Buddy to New York to find their fortune.
Buddy meets Peggy and they provide the romance.  The insistence of Buddy’s singing and the humming of The Flying Trapeze repeatedly is annoying and irritating.  I felt like reaching into the television and choking Dick Powell.  He did not need to sing the song in its entirety twice.  The major shortcoming of the movie is there is not enough of Ginger in it.  The Mills Brothers sing a couple of songs with supreme harmony and is an enjoyable respite from the continuing saga of Buddy Clayton, radio star heartthrob who must remain unattached for his fans according to the sponsor of his radio show.  Peggy and Buddy get engaged but have a falling out ala Rush.
Buddy’s career skids into oblivion.  Rush regrets his part in splitting Buddy and Peggy and goes about getting them together again.  In the process, he gets Buddy his job back with the radio station.  Buddy starts to sing but stops and appears to be unable to continue when Peggy comes to Buddy’s rescue and finishes singing I’ll String Along with You with him.  Again, this movie lacks from not enough Ginger and too much silliness.  Ginger needed to sing more and have more of the story revolved around her.  Then again, this was not her studio and they wanted to promote their star, Dick Powell.  RKO and other studios still do not realize Ginger's potential as a serious actress.

Change of Heart May 10, 1934 New York City, New York

Ginger plays a girl who is out for numero uno and does not care who she climbs over and hurts to get what she perceives as rightfully hers.  You have the eternal triangle but really a quadlaterial as there are four of them.  Catherine Furness (Janet Gaynor), Chris Thring (Charles Farrell), Mack McGowan (James Dunn), and Madge Rountree (Ginger Rogers) have just graduated from a west coast university and have dreams of making it big in New York City.  Catherine wants to become a writer, Chris wants to be a lawyer for a big firm, Mack wants to become a crooner for a radio station, and Madge wants to become an actress.  On their flight, back East a little girl walks down the aisle by the name of Shirley Temple.
They are all great friends but the quartet breaks up because of their various entanglements.  Catherine is in love with Chris while Chris is in love with Madge.  Madge thinks she is in love with Mack but then she loves Chris also, but who shall I chose.  Mack adores Catherine but who does he really love?
Madge has connections with Phyllis Carmichael who is acquainted with theatre people.  Madge calls Phyllis and off they go to a party where Madge sets her sights on playboy Howard Jackson.  Catherine finds a job working in a used clothing shop while waiting for her big break with a newspaper.  Harriet Hawkins runs the clothing shop and is always on the lookout for wealthy people who would make good adoptive parents because they leave their old clothes there.  She works with Dr. Nathan Kurtzman and usually has a young baby in the shop for the customers to fall in love with.
Mack and Chris have found jobs while Madge leaves to move in with Phyllis so she can meet up with the upper classes.  Chris runs after Madge and Mack proposes to Catherine after he criticizes Madges’ self-centeredness.  Catherine declines and moves in with Harriet.  Catherine and Mack are instrumental in the adoption of a young boy to Louise whose husband has a large law firm.  Madge runs off with Jackson to be married in California.  Chris is distraught, finds no meaning in living, and becomes very ill.  Mack lets Catherine know and she spends night and day with Chris and brings him back from the brink of death.  Chris decides it is Catherine who he loves and wants to marry her but before they can tie the knot, Catherine receives a letter from Madge.  Madge tells Catherine that she has changed her mind and is coming back to marry Chris.  Catherine shows Chris the letter and he tells her that he wants to marry her.  Chris states clearly that he does not love Madge anymore and that she is the one he wants to marry.  Madge returns and does not like losing to anyone and starts out to get Chris back and away from Catherine.  Chris is an upscale lawyer and working for Louise’s husband.  Madge has inherited a bundle from her aunt and needs someone to manage her money.  Chris is the ideal solution in Madge’s mind.
Catherine is jealous of all the time Chris is spending with Madge and confronts her.  Madge challenges Catherine to try and keep him.  Catherine and Chris are supposed to spend the weekend at the Mockbys.  Madge says if Chris goes she has won but if he misses their train he is hers.  Madge detains Chris, he misses the train, and Catherine goes on without him.
I am pleasantly surprised when Chris shows up and alleviates Catherine’s concerns as he avows his love for her.  Now we flash back to Madge putting the moves on Mack who has all along wanted Madge but felt he would never have a chance with her because of Chris.  He tries to be strong and set the law down but Madge is twirling him around her finger as the movie ends.  I love the dress Ginger is wearing in the fade out.

The Gay Divorcée October 12, 1934 

Ginger and Fred cement their star in the heavens forever with The Gay Divorcée while being billed as the King and Queen of the Carioca.  From the moment, Guy Holden (Fred) meets Mimi Glossop (Ginger) at customs in England the sparks ignite with fireworks galore and I am forever under their spell.  Guy comes across a young woman in distress or you might say ‘disdress’ calling for a porter.  Guy tears Mimi’s dress inadvertently as he pulls it out of a locked upright steamer trunk.  He offers her his overcoat and gives her his address.  Mimi returns the coat without a note and phone number to Guy’s disappointment as he has fallen hopelessly in love with an angel.
Guy literally runs into the back of Mimi’s car while searching everywhere for her. A pursuit ensues as Guy chases Mimi down in the countryside.  Guy pulls out his picnic basket for all occasions and offers Mimi, “Frosted chocolate? Cointreau?  Benedictine?  Marriage?” out of his picnic basket for all occasions.  Mimi’s interest in this very charming young man is heightened as she replies, “Oh, What was that last?’’ Guy says, “Benedictine?” Mimi counters, “No, after that.”  Guy says, “Oh, marriage?”  Mimi inquires, “Do you always propose marriage as casually as that?”  Guy says, “There’s nothing casual about it.  I’ve given it a lot of sincere thought.”   This sparks Mimi’s interest in this debonair man but rebuffs his attention.  Mimi reluctantly accepts his phone number but I see a pleasurable smile of enchantment on her face as Guy removes the sign blocking her car’s path.   Guy realizes he does not know her name and calls after her asking for her name.   Mimi answers by yelling her name back at him out the car window.
Guy desperately waits around Egbert’s apartment waiting to hear from Mimi.  Egbert asks if he is pining for that woman to which one of the best lines in the film comes when he informs his friend Egbert ‘Pinky’ Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton) “Pining … men don’t pine.  Girls pine. Men just … suffer.” 
Mimi wants to get out of a loveless marriage and her Aunt Hortense (Alice Brady) takes her to see an old beau ‘Pinky’ who is a lawyer.  He sets up a clandestine meeting between Mimi as Mrs. Green and a professional co-respondent, Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes).  At this time, a co-respondent was a means used to get a divorce as adultery was usually the only way one could obtain one regardless if adultery occurred or not.
Guy and Mimi meet up at a seaside hotel in Brighton where Mimi is meeting her professional co-respondent Rodolfo Tonetti so she can be caught in an adulterous situation leading to her welcomed freedom and divorce.  Egbert has given Tonetti a phrase to say so Mrs. Green, who is really Mimi, would recognize and invite him to her boudoir.
Guy finds Mimi sitting with her aunt.  Mimi flees and he chases her to a secluded area where he continues the pursuit of his Lady Love and learns that Mimi had called him.  He first entices her with the lyrics of Night and Day which are so beautifully romantic.  Mimi tries to retreat but is stopped at every turn when Guy grabs her arm and beckons Mimi with a few steps.  As Mimi turns to leave, Guy takes her hand and spins Mimi around and into his loving arms and they dance into my heart forever.  This is the very instance Ginger convinces the world that Fred is the most desirable lover and dancer ever to grace the screen as she responds to Fred with both body and soul as does he to her.  How can anyone watch this duet and not get your blood boiling with desire.  Talk about being seductively sensual and to top it off he offers Mimi a cigarette after the encounter.  Mimi is totally his for the taking until he says those words.  What words you say?  Tonetti’s words, “Chance, Chance is the fool’s name for fate.”  The ice princess appears as Mimi has mistaken Guy for her co-respondent and tells him to come to her room at midnight.  She walks off leaving Guy a little mystified.
Mimi is relieved when she realizes Guy is a dancer by profession and not her co-respondent but hesitates in telling him why she is there.  While Mimi and Guy are on the balcony, a weird looking man enters Mimi’s room and makes himself at home.  The gig is up and Tonetti asks Guy if he is a union man when he refuses to leave.  The looks on Ginger and Fred’s faces are priceless as is their mannerisms as they knowingly squirm and look at each other when Tonetti tells them his young son voice is changing.  Tonetti is speaking with his wife on the phone when he hears a deep-throated man’s voice in the background.  Everyone knows but Tonetti that he has not heard the voice of his son but the voice of his wife’s lover.
Mimi and Guy go back on the balcony and the orchestra starts to play The Continental as the guests below dance and kiss when the lyrics demand it.  Ginger sings the first song to win an Oscar to Fred with additional verses sung by Erik Rhodes and Lillian Miles.
Mimi and Guy join the guests on the dance floor and spin their magic as the guests move away to give this extraordinary couple the floor as they watch in awe. They leave the dance floor as the guests applaud their approval and the dancers start their performance for the guests.  Guy and Mimi hide from Tonetti’s prying eyes as he sings his verse of the song from the balcony as the dancers continue their performance. This number is quite the extravagant undertaking. There is the Busby Berkeley like dancing routine by the performers but really, I just cannot wait until Ginger and Fred dance again.  After all, I really just want to see them dance together.  The number is a distraction and becomes disjointed because of the numerous cuts.
Mimi and Guy are so full of desire for each other that they cannot help themselves and return to the dance floor when Tonetti leaves the balcony and dance to my delight once again.  As the lights dim, they begin their elegant descent down the stairs.  It is so ardent and exquisite as they lithely float down the stairs in each other’s arms while the spotlight follows them.  The lights go up and they finish their romp of total enchantment with each other.  Then back up the stairs and to Mimi’s room.
At the end of the film, Ginger and Fred dance the one routine kept from the play in which Fred danced with Clare Luce.  I have seen it replicated in a couple of cartoons from the day.  They joyfully dance around, over, and on furniture and leave together arm in arm.
The Gay Divorcée garnered five Academy nominations; Best Picture, Best Song, which won, Best Interior Decoration, Best Musical Score, and Best Sound Recording.  Their movies were usually among the nominations but rarely won.  The script is witty while Ginger and Fred are the ideal foil for each other.  Eric Blore was the ever humorist waiter.  Betty Grable danced with Edward Everett Horton.
Patty Dubuis, Ginger’s secretary, gives the reader an insight into the unpretentious and young carefree life of Ginger Rogers.  Ginger has always been an early riser even on days she does not need to report to work.  According to Patty, Ginger is up at six in the morning and takes her faithful mongrel pup, Yankee on a hike, consisting of miles, through Griffith Park only to return home for a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hotcakes. She is always up for a game of tennis on the courts at the park with anyone who is willing.  Ginger’s big night out consists of a Tiddle-dy-Winks Championship at Mary Brian’s home while going around town in slacks and only getting dressed in her stunning gowns for formal occasions.  She goes on to tell about how Ginger is not the “Movie Star” in public that while waiting in the audience at a radio station for her turn; the radio people and Patty were looking everywhere for her when they found her sitting in the audience taking in the previous show.  This is Ginger’s appeal.  She does not take herself too seriously.  Ginger just happens to be a person who is an exceptional actress.  She is human first and a star second.
Lew Ayres was not much into the Hollywood nightlife.  Ginger and Lew enjoyed the simple things in life.  Neither was extravagant with their money and lived very economically by Hollywood standards.  A good time for them was dinner with friends and playing all sorts of mental brain teasing games.  This is another connection as my family plays all sorts of games when we get together.  Heaven help visitors as they are pulled into the free for all.  Ginger and Lew enjoy playing tennis, ping-pong, and other sporty games together and with their friends.
Lew did not want to marry another actress and especially one who was ambitious about a career.  Ginger wanted a career and was determined to have a successful one.  She had been working towards this end since she was fourteen.  Ginger and Lew have been seeing one another since March of 1933.  They would hit the nightspots with their friends on occasion.  Ginger ever the romantic felt she could still have a successful career and marriage.  Lew was still adamant that they were just very good friends and he was not going to marry an actress.  Ginger is on top of the world as The Gay Divorcée is a smash hit and she signs a long-term contract with RKO.  Off to New York she goes.  Lew phones and Ginger comes back to Hollywood to hike and play tennis with the one man in her life.
One day when Lew was busily filming Lottery Lover for Fox studios, Ginger Rogers walks unexpectedly out of the shadows and down the aisle to where Lew is sitting.  She sits down by him and Lew goes to his knee.  Ginger’s mother appears and announces the impending marriage of her daughter to Lew.  Everyone on the set from actors to electricians rush the couple to extend their warm congratulations.  Photos were taken of the happy couple with Lew in his cadet uniform for his role while Ginger was dressed in her finery.  The actors in their cadet uniforms raise their swords and form an arch for the happy couple as they pose for another photo.  The photos show two people in love with eyes for only each other.  After an hour’s celebration, it was back to work.
Ginger Rogers and Lew Ayres were married on November 14, 1934, in Glendale at the Little Church of the Flowers.  Ginger looks like a princess in her gown of pale green Chantilly lace with matching hat.  Everyone wishes them well.  They are so in love with one another.

Romance in Manhattan January 11, 1935

This new romance has Francis Lederer playing Karel Novak an immigrant and Ginger playing showgirl Sylvia Dennis and Jimmy Butler finds himself playing Sylvia’s younger brother Frank Dennis.  Ginger is at last able to show her dramatic ability with this picture.  Ginger is starting her transition to being a serious thespian.  Still cast as a chorus girl that is not the focus of the film. 
Immigrant Karel Novak has entered the country illegally because he did not have enough money to pay the requisite fee nor a sponsor.  Sylvia takes Karel under her wing and gets him a job selling newspapers through her brother, Frank.  Karel takes his meals with Sylvia and Frank while sleeping up on the roof of her run down tenement.
The scenes between Ginger and Francis are appealing and affectionate especially when they kid around about marrying for money when they both feel deeply about each other.  Ginger is compelling as the older sister who loves her younger brother dearly.  When Ginger tries to act brave and starts to cry at the prospects of her brother being taken away is heartfelt.  You are as bereft as Sylvia is.
I have read several articles in movie magazines about how Lew Ayers changed Ginger.  They usually speak about how she started to take life in stride and began to relax a little but this was also during the time when her star began to rise quite rapidly.  Ginger is “a poised, sleek, star of the screen” during this time.  As Ginger’s star rose, Lew’s star began to fall.  Ginger’s studio obligations were more demanding now than ever before.  Lew’s movie career is full of forgettable films.  Ginger is making more money than Lew and her life is more high profile than his is.  This can be hard on a man’s ego if he lets it.  The never-ending battle women have to deal with then as now. “Do I give up my career or cut back my career for love and family?”  Always nagging in the back of your mind is, “What if I do give up my career, what happens if there is a divorce?  What do I do now?”  Ginger tried in her way to make a success of her marriage.  In studying her life, Ginger was not the type of person who could remain idle.  She enjoyed working too much to give it up even though she said in some interviews that she would if her career interfered with her marriage to Lew.  Ginger’s lifeblood was working.  Ginger’s husband would need to love her sufficiently to understand that and be able to sustain her in that venture.  Ginger is self-confident, charming, beautiful, and elegant on the screen.  Fans went to the theaters here and aboard, to watch this wonderful actress spin her magical web around them repeatedly. 
Ginger takes a very modernistic view when it came to sharing expenses acquired by a married couple.  Ginger was okay with the bills being shared depending on the earning power of each individual. If the wife wants to buy a new gown that is within her power because of her income but not that of her husband’s income she should be able to buy the gown.  It should not be an insult to the man’s ego.  Egos need to be left by the wayside, as the wife and husband should be partners in love and money matters.  She did not mean for her husband to become lazy and slovenly but to contribute monetarily whatever his profession allowed.  Ginger’s earnings always far exceeded that of her husbands’.  She was never able to find a man who could deal with her career and not be overwhelmed by her celebrity and her need to work.
It is interesting to note that the word “obey” was missing from the marriage ceremony and Lew had Ginger sign a prenuptial agreement.  Ginger was put-off with the idea of the everyday bills of running the household as food, utilities were divided equally and each of them paid their share.  Ginger does state in her biography that one of her regrets was that she did not try harder to make her marriage work with Lew.  You get the sense this regret is stated wistfully.  When you are on top of the world, it is hard to see the forest for the trees.  It is extra hard for a woman because she has to give up everything for the sake of the marriage and it could still fail.  Then where would she be?  Her career opportunities would have passed her by and she would be left out in the cold.
Ginger and Lew remained friends and would still see each other on and off again.  After Lew’s success in Holiday and Young Dr. Kildare they began seeing more of each other and Hollywood rumored reconciliation was in the works.  Ginger hinted in her biography that if Lew might have asked she would have gone back to him for another try.  Lew might have been waiting for the same invitation from Ginger.  After all, Ginger left Lew even if it was at his request.  In the end, they both lost out.  Howard Hughes wanted Ginger as his wife and dealt with the problem directly by pushing Ginger’s divorce through in 1940.

Roberta March 8, 1935

Why in the world did the studios think that there had to be another couple in Ginger’s movies with Astaire?  Irene Dunne and her relationship with Randolph Scott takes up too much of the film time and is a distraction, especially Scott’s screaming in an elevator that does not work properly.
Irene Dunne gets top billing as Stephanie.  Fred Astaire is Huckleberry Haines and Ginger is Countess Tanka Scharwenka who is really an old girlfriend of Huck’s from the States named Lizzie Gatz.  Randolph Scott is a football player named John Kent whose aunt is Roberta the head of a fashion house.
Ginger and Fred’s chemistry is at its best here.  They are comfortable with each other and it comes across as they banter, sing, and dance together.  Ginger’s talent for comedy, mimicry, and accents are first-rate.  Ginger brings her comic expertise to the forefront as she plays Parisian socialite Countess Scharwenka who sings at Café Russe.  I love her accent, rendition, and gestures as she sings Too Hard to Handle.  Lyda Roberti originated Ginger's role on Broadway.  Copious reviewers bestowed accolades on Ginger for her performance as a precise imitation of Roberti's distinctive speech and mannerisms.  I saw Lyda Roberti in At Sea Ashore, 1936, and found myself seeing Ginger in her speech and mannerisms.  Therefore, Ginger's imitation of Lyda is a magnum opus.   I wish Ginger was afforded more opportunities to show off her talent as a singer.
Huck begins to tease Lizzie as they muse over their youth back in the States. The teasing and reconciliation continue in their dance duet.  They are so natural and fun to watch as they interact.  They appear to be at ease and relaxed with one another as you get the impression their dance is spontaneous when you know they have rehearsed numerous hours.  This is the one and only time when their taps are recorded live as they dance on a hardwood floor.  You really get their true emotions as they frolic together such as Ginger’s giggles.  The only other duet you get this same feeling is when they dance Bouncin’ to the Blues from Barkleys of Broadway.   
If you look closely, you will see a blonde Lucille Ball among the models at the fashion show.
One of the most endearing and tender dances Ginger and Fred ever perform together is Lovely to Look At/Smoke Gets into Your Eyes.  When Ginger walks over to Fred, she is so regal and elegant.  As they sing Lovely to Look At together, they stroll over to the dance floor with eyes only for themselves.  They move in tandem with graceful precision.  The way Fred tenderly places his hand on Ginger’s head as she leans on his shoulder is very touching as he looks amorously at her.  The dance is caring, affectionate, and romantic.  It gives me goose bumps and astounds me.  Their exit from the dance floor is astonishing as they leap backwards up several steps twirl and exit arm in arm.  They return to the dance floor for a quick euphoric dance to I Won’t Dance but of course, they do as they celebrate their impending marriage.  Again, their short dance is a celebration of their love for each other and I just happen to be there in the audience.  Ginger and Fred always danced for each other not the audience.

Star of Midnight April 11, 1935 New York City, New York

When I finally found a copy of this movie and viewed it, I was thrilled and it has become one of my favorite Ginger movies.  I was already a big William Powell fan mainly because of his “Thin Man” movies.  The one downfall of the “Thin Man” movies is that there is not enough of Myrna Loy in them.  Detective and murder mysteries are my favorite genre of movie, television show, or book.  I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, and Dame Agatha Christie books.  Therefore, the Sherlock Danzel and Donna Mantin Watson crime-solving duo amused and thrilled me.  Powell is his debonair self as a lawyer and sometime sleuth.  Ginger plays the socialite with wit and unabashed charm.  She is the supreme comedian.  Her timing and interactions with Powell are appealing.
George Chandler has a brief appearance as a witness.  He appears in other films with Ginger most notably as her husband in Roxie Hart.   Gene Lockhart plays the butler Swayne.  He is the father of June Lockhart who finds fame as Timmy’s mother in the television show Lassie.  He is also the grandfather of Anne Lockhart who is June’s daughter and known for her part as Lt. Sheba in the television show Battlestar Galactica.   Gene and his wife Kathleen play the Cratchits in A Christmas Carol; MGM 1938.  June plays one of their daughters.
I found Ginger and William Powell’s chemistry intriguing.  Their banter was invigorating and appealing as she brazenly chases Dal until he surrenders in the end.  Midnight was release about a year after The Thin Man.  The Thin Man had been William Powell and Myrna Loy’s second movie together.  The public instantly liked them as a couple.  They went on to make twelve more movies together and six of them were from the series.  I became a Myrna Loy fan because of the “Thin Man” movies and she is a top-notched actress, but Ginger would have been the better collaborator.  Then again, she would have found herself relegated to a second lead and I cannot see her doing that again.  Besides, she desperately wanted to become a dramatic actress.  I wish Ginger and William Powell would have made more movies together, but she was under contract with RKO and Powell was with MGM.  Ginger and William reunite on the radio for the Screen Guild Theater when they perform Lucky Partners on April 6, 1941.
Ginger is becoming a very capable multifaceted actress to the delight of her fans.  “Ginger is no longer merely a dancer; she has played dramatic roles with the depth of feeling only attributed to long experience on the stage; as a comedian she is refreshing and delightful.  In the recent detective-mystery, “Star of Midnight,” with William Powell, Ginger-as a sophisticate, ultra-modern young debutante-displayed a poise and smartness and glamour which set her apart as an actress of distinction.” 
As the talkies were taking over the motion picture industry, the requisite for movie actors started to change.  The new actor had to be “a singing-dancing-acting-talking-personality.”  Ginger filled the bill and more because “She has personality and style.  After all, it takes a dancer to wear clothes.”   One thing Ginger proved time after time was that she unquestionably knew how to wear clothes and use them to her best advantage while talking, walking, dancing, or singing.  She had an unquestionable presence on the screen.

Top Hat August 30, 1935 New York City, New York

Top Hat becomes Ginger and Fred’s biggest moneymaker.  Jerry Travers (Fred) is a dancer working for Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) in London.  Jerry is staying with Horace in his apartment.  He starts to dance madly around the living room to the annoyance of Dale Tremont (Ginger) whose bedroom is right below theirs.  Dale is trying to sleep when the ceiling looses a few tiles.  She complains to the management and then takes it upon herself to register her grievance in person.  Upon this first meeting, Dale expresses her disapproval of Jerry’s dancing as he becomes besotted with a most exquisite woman.  He plays the sandman as he dances a soft-shoe lullaby while gently caressing Dale back to sleep.  Dale acknowledges his gesture blissfully, as she closes her eyes and goes to sleep.
Jerry pursues Dale to the riding club and finally entraps her in a bandstand during a rainstorm.  He sings What a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain.  Jerry cannot see Dale’s reaction as she has turned her back to him.  Dale lets me see her pleasure as she softens and starts to become enamored with Jerry.  Jerry starts to dance and Dale joins in.  By the end of the duet, Jerry and Dale are inundated by the rapture of their love for one another.  Both are dwelling on cloud nine.
Then came the dawn when Dale is lead to believe mistakenly that Jerry is Horace who is her best friend’s husband.  Dale spends a good portion of the movie running from Jerry and he is in hot pursuit and does not understand her resistances as they both feel deeply for each other.  Jerry with Madge’s (Helen Broderick) approval dances Dale away from the others and serenades her with Cheek to Cheek.  Now, with Dale’s opposition to him at a low point Jerry dances her across a bridge to a deserted ballroom and they make euphoric love to each other as they dance.  Dale feels horrible for betraying her friend as she admits her love for Jerry and runs away again.  The feather dress Ginger wears during the dance has become as famous as this erotic dance.  Ginger and the dress make the dance sensually gratifying as they move along the dance floor with Fred.  They become one in thought, movement, and purpose.
Finally, the misunderstanding is resolved.  Dale sings the Piccolino to Jerry and they joyously dance once again.  At the end of the movie Dale and Jerry dance off into the sunset ecstatically.  Ginger and Fred’s duets and songs make this movie the outstanding epic it has become.  What makes Top Hat an iconic movie is the superlative comedy, music, and dancing.

In Person November 22, 1935

In Person with Ginger and George Brent is another favorite film with me.  Ginger was way ahead of her time in terms of her acting.  Only Ginger could have pulled off the preposterous idea of wearing false teeth, a wig, and glasses and not over play it.  Other films of this period often showed actors giving what now appear to be over the top performances as they over act and appear to be wooden performances.  Ginger always animated, in the moment and low key in emotional delivery.  Her technique has prevailed and has become the consummate comedian.  Ginger dances, sings, and gives a skillful rendition as a fiery womanly actress.
Carol Corliss (Ginger) has taken on an alternative persona in the form of Clara Colfax.  She disguises herself with dark hair, glasses, and buckteeth.  When Clara attempts to go out into the world, she is also heavily veiled.  Ginger shows that she has more dramatic ability than previously realized.  In the scenes with very little dialogue, she has to put across her character’s state of mind with her body when a heavy veil hides her face.  This is no easy feat, but with old-fashioned, jerky movements and a walk depicted as hysterical, she really does portray a woman whose nerves are on the point of collapse.  I love Emory’s (George Brent) reaction to Clara’s appearance when he lifts her veil.  He says, “Ouch!” and his facial expression is priceless.  The delivery of their conversation is perfect.  The correct intonation is used and is not overdone.  The whole film is full of these choice moments of repartee.  This is one of the many talents of Ginger’s.  She never misses a beat.
Upon meeting ornithologist Emory Muir who is a young man who has the Grade A milk of human kindness agrees to take Miss Corliss with him to a mountain get away to study his birds and she can recuperate from her emotionally unstable condition.  When Carol and Emory first reach the cabin, she sets up a radio and the station is playing Lovely to Look At from the fashion show scene in Roberta.  At this moment in time, Carol is anything but lovely to look at with wig, glasses, and buckteeth.
Emory does not know who his guest is until the next day when he sees her picture in some Apple Jacks he purchases in town.  When he returns, Carol has decided to lose the disguise and get some respect from Emory when she tells him whom she really is.  Emory does not let on he knows who she is and Carol spends most of the film trying to prove to him who she really is.  You begin to see a self-centered petulant movie star change into a caring and loving young woman.
Poor Carol is trying her hand at cooking and lights the stove. She then starts to blow on the flame to get it going.  She sees the bellows and begins to force air into the stove.  You know what will happen and you wince in anticipation.  Carol gets soot blown back at her.  You laugh but feel her pain as she begins to cry with her blackened face and clothes as you reminisce about your own culinary fiascoes.
Later on in the film, Carol is whipping up a delectable offering for the man in her life while listening to a cooking program on the radio.  Although, Carol does not say but one word in this scene, she lets you know just what she is thinking by her expressions and body language.  Ginger never needed dialogue to get a point over she could say so much more without uttering a word.
Of course, there needs to be some conflict so Jay Holmes (Alan Mowbray), who is Carol’s co-star, finds her drying dishes of all things while Emory is in town buying more supplies for her cooking experiments.  She wants him to leave and goes into a demented scullery maid Ophelia crooning over dirty dishes instead of flowers.
The three songs Ginger sings in this film are among my favorite and find it a shame that not many people are aware of them. Dorothy Fields and Oscar Levant wrote the songs.  A New Lease on Life, which is first heard on the radio and then Carol sings and acts it out for Emory and does a gratifying tap dance exhibiting Ginger’s skill and athleticism. Carol’s persona sings Don’t Mention Love to Me on the theater’s movie screen while Carol and Emory watch in the audience with the local town’s people.  I find this song very expressive and contemplative but full of the realization that there is no hope for the relationship as she walks out the door and off the screen.  It is an extremely sincere farewell.  Out of Sight, and Out of Mind is sung at the end of the movie as Carol has returned to her movie career and is filming a scene for her next photoplay.  She laments her regret and disappointment in love as out of sight is out of mind.  She dances very dramatically with a chorus of young men in white dinner jackets with an appearance of superiority but desire.  She ends the dance number by dangling her young suitors like puppets on strings as she pulls them here and there while she performs a lively tap dance.
Ginger wisely knows the importance of being a team on screen and is very generous with her leading men, unlike some leading actresses of the day, by never attempting to get more than her fair share of the picture so that it is balanced in its presentation.  In Person was a vehicle to exploit her talents and she could have made it all about her, but she never takes away from George Brent’s importance to the plot of the film.  Because of Ginger’s unselfishness, her co-stars step up to the plate and come across with the goods in their scenes together.
Ginger becomes to represent the “Typical American Girl” because of her on screen personality.  She symbolizes the ordinary young woman struggling with life’s challenges.  Her characterizations of these women are so incredibly authentic because Ginger is the genuine woman herself, down to earth and she lives a simple life in comparison to other Hollywood elite.  To illustrate this Ginger and her friends does not need a formal invite and frequently drop in on each other without fanfare for fun, games, and a quick snack.  Most of Ginger’s close friends and companions are not among the Hollywood elite.  Ginger cherishes her friends as prized possessions as they cherish hers.
Ginger is quite the sportswoman and is not the frail and befuddled woman when competing with a man in anything.  I truly admire her tenacity and strength in always competing to her uppermost potential no matter what the task in question was.  She was a proficient equestrian, tennis player, skeet marksmanship, ping-pong player, swimmer, and golfer.  Her friends called her “THE CHAMP” affectionately.  Ginger is an accomplished sculptor and artist. Ginger could do anything she put her mind to.  Ginger’s eccentricity from youth is that once she has perfected a skill, she had the predisposition to move on to the next undertaking at hand.
Lew Ayers is an amateur astronomer and moviemaker.  Einstein knew of Lew’s interest in astronomy and met with him when he visited Hollywood.  Lew introduced Ginger to the joys of making movies.  They would write short plays and get everyone involved in the production.  Because of one of these plays, Lew signed a contract to direct.  Ginger would take her camera everywhere she went to the studio and on vacations.  Oh, how I wish I could view those lovely films!  I have only seen clips from her home movies of Fred and her on the set of the Castles when they are going to dance their last waltz.

Follow the Fleet February 20, 1936

Follow the Fleet goes back to the double couple romance, which takes away from Ginger and Fred.  The main shortcoming in the film is the time spent on Harriet Hilliard and Randolph Scott.  The studio wanted to reunite Irene Dunne with Randolph Scott but she was unavailable at the time and the studio went with Harriet Hilliard, the recently married Harriet Nelson wife of band leader Ozzie Nelson.
Bake Baker (Fred) and Bilge Smith (Randolph Scott) are friends in the Navy on leave in San Francisco.  Sherry Martin (Ginger) is a singer at the Paradise ballroom frequented by sailors. Bake and Sherry were a dancing team, which broke up when Bake offered marriage, and Sherry thought it would put a damper on her career.  Sherry’s plain looking music teacher sister, Connie (Harriet Hilliard), has come for a visit.  Kitty (Lucille Ball) helps to transform her into a piece of eye candy and the wolfish Bilge accommodates by noticing.
I love the banter between Bake and Sherry when they reunite at the Paradise ballroom.  Sherry tears up and sheds a few as she declares her joy in seeing Bake again.  Bake is just as thrilled to see her as Sherry remarks, “You sure are excited to see me!”  I cannot do justice by restating the dialogue as they talk about their breakup, fans, the Navy, and chocolate shakes.  You just need to watch it!
Sherry sings Let Yourself Go with a trio of girls.  This is a lively fun song sung to perfection by Ginger.  Betty Grable is one of the young girls in the trio.  Bake and Sherry dance to the song during a competition at the dance hall.  Ginger and Fred tap up a storm in their sailor suits.  Their legs look like as if they are rubber as they go flying through the air.  Even when they perform for others, you get the impression that Bake and Sherry are only dancing for each other.  They want to impress the audience but they want to impress each other because of the joy in their hearts with reuniting once again and cannot tolerate the other one getting the upper hand.
Ginger has the opportunity to demonstrate her skill as a tap dancer while auditioning for Nolan.  Ginger deserved more opportunities to highlight her singing and dancing in her films with Fred but she was not given the chance to shine very often.  
I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket has to be one of the, theoretically, spontaneously fun routines Fred and Ginger perform.  It is an affectionate moment between the two of them and I am able to watch from afar.  The true enjoyment these two people feel performing together comes together here.  They could have really hammed it up but they give it just the right touch and it comes off beautifully with its hint of vaudevillian comedy.
There has been a lot written about the Face the Music and Dance number in which Ginger’s sleeve slapped Fred in the face towards the beginning of the dance.  Fred was in a daze but danced without a mistake.  They spent the day reshooting the dance but ended up using the first take.  One must remember that there were three entities involve in this dramatic masterpiece.   There was Fred, Ginger, and her 25-pound beaded dress.  Fred had only one entity to contend with; Ginger had her and the dress. I love this song and dance.  The dance is a mini story within a story.  It has elegance, grace, romance, seduction, and climax.  What more could you ask for in a Ginger-Fred duet?
Ginger’s heavily beaded dress adds to the drama and poignancy as it spins and wraps around her legs while the sleeves spin and wrap around her arms and wrists. Considering how much the dress weighed, Ginger carries it off with her usual refinement and sophistication is a wonder to behold because she does not falter but is self-assured and elegant a dancer as ever.  It has to be one of the most exquisite and heartrending dance routine ever put on film.  They danced into the ages with this performance.  It stepped out of time and space and made them eternal gods of dance.  I know Fred did not care for some of Ginger's dresses but Ginger and her dresses added so much to the dances.  She knew instinctively how to use them and her body to their best benefit, as she became one with Fred.
Ginger befriends Harriet Hilliard in her film debut.  She acts with her during her screen test, rehearses with her, helps her with her makeup, and gives her all the tips possible about moviemaking.  Ginger shows once again that she is human first and a famous personality second.  Harriet had just married Ozzie Nelson before coming west to pursue a movie career.  Harriet was a top radio star and sang for Ozzie’s band.  They would become the renowned and beloved Ozzie and Harriet of television fame.  I watched them faithfully every week and fell in love with Ricky and his sparkling eyes and tender voice as he sang to the masses at the end of the shows.