Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #27 - Romance in Manhattan
Directed by: Stephen Roberts.
Assistant Director: Dewey Starkey.
Producer: Pandro S. Berman.
Cinematography by: Nicholas Musuraca.
Screenplay: Jane Murfin, Edward Kaufman and Norman Krasna.
Story: Norman Krasna and Don Hartman.
Original Music by: Alberto Colombo.
Musical Director: Alberto Colombo.
Composers: Arthur Lange, Max Steiner, and Roy Webb.
Recordist: John E. Tribby.
Film Editing: Jack Hively.
Photographic Effects: Vernon L. Walker.
Visual Effects (miniatures): Donald Jahraus.
Still Photographer: John Miehle.
Art Direction: Charles M. Kirk and Van Nest Polglase.
Makeup Department: Mel Berns.
Research Director: Elizabeth McGaffey.
Also Starring: Francis Lederer (as Karel Novak), Arthur Hohl (as Halsey J. Pander), Jimmy Butler (as Frank Dennis), J. Farrell McDonald (as Officer Murphy), Helen Ware (as Miss Anthrop), Eily Malyon (as Miss Evans), Lillian Harmer (as Mrs. Schultz - Landlady), Donald Meek (as Minister), Sidney Toler (as Police Sergeant), Oscar Apfel (as The Judge), Reginald Barlow (as Customs Inspector).
UNCREDITED CAST: Richard Alexander (as Man at East River), Irving Bacon (as Counterman), Wade Boteler (as Customs Inspector), A.S. 'Pop' Byron (as Policeman Writing Down Charges), Spencer Charters (as Marriage License Clerk), Martin Cichy (as Policeman at Bar), Andy Clyde (Liquor Store Owner), Dick Curtis (as Man at East River), James Donlan (as Mr. Harris - Cab Manager), Billy Dooley (as Man at East River), Harold Goodwin (as Doctor at Police Station), Ben Hendricks Jr. (as Ship's Officer), Paul Hurst (as Joe - Policeman), Edward LeSaint (as Customs Official), Jack Pennick (as Cab Driver on Strike), Christian Rub (as Otto - an Immigrant), Frank Sheridan (as Customs Inspector), Landers Stevens (as Ship's Captain), Ben Taggart (as Plainclothesman), Max Wagner (as Man at East River).
Ginger's Character: Sylvia Dennis.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 31 Minutes and 11 Seconds (40.05% of the film).
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 8.5 - Ginger is just awesome in this one...not really so much as to her 'sassiness', but just...being GINGER... her 'true' persona seems to work thru here, which is always neat...of course, there are a few moments of excitement, but it seems like she plays more of the 'straight role' to Lederer's somewhat more 'passionately excitable' character role.
Film Quality (1-10): 9.0 - WB Archives.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: ...This one starts out with a Czechoslovakian immigrant named Karel Novak (Francis Lederer) floating into Ellis Island to gain U.S. citizenship...he has done his homework, even down to knowing how much cash it takes to pay for 'processing fees'...well, until the fee was upped to over twice as much as it was when he started out (he should have followed the immigration department on Twitter for instant updates...); as a result, he is turned away, and put back on a boat to Europe...well, of course, he's got to do something quick, else we have a 10-minute featurette...and we have yet to see Ginger!
So, dude figures out how to jump ship, and somehow makes it down the East River to the docks (heck, he should be given citizenship for surviving the East River...right?). There, some good ol' boys pull him out, and he promptly scurries off to avoid prosecution (these dudes would have been able to grab some $$$ if they turned him in) - he drops his wallet amidst his scuttling, and this ultimately doesn't really mean much, plot-wise, except that he has no duckets now.
Well, sooner or later, the K-man has to eat, so he wanders into an open building (which really is reminiscent of the Gold Diggers of '33 rehearsal building), and find that America runs on Dunkin...Donuts, that is... well, this is when he meets Miss Sylvia Dennis (Ginger), who appears to be ducking out of practice early - eh, she's the star, let the newbies sweat it out for a few more hours - and they immediately strike up a friendship, such that when they leave, the local cop Murphy (J. Farrell McDonald), who has already seen Karel lollygagging around, threatens to run him in...but Sylvia intercedes for him.
She proceeds to invite Karel to her place, and asks where he is staying in town...well, that's easy, as he's currently 'in-between residences'...hey, her brownstone has a roof on it...why not stay there? So, in a somewhat more obtuse arrangement than in Rafter Romance, Karel hangs out amongst the pigeons and clotheslines...which is fine with him, as he is in America.
Well, Sylvia has a younger brother, Frank (Jimmy Butler), who generally seems to be the somewhat older and more street-smart version of the kid from Sitting Pretty. Frank has a gig hawking papers on the corner, and he agrees to split that work time with Karel in order to attend school, and to avoid the old lady school truancy patrol (in reality, not sure if there would have been much heartburn about the kid working, as child labor laws were kinda dicey back then, I think...).
Well, Karel gets it together and lands a gig as a cab driver, making fair money... which is fortunate, because Sylvia's show is kaput, thus she is outta work. Meanwhile, Frank is busted again for not showing up at school, and it appears he will be sent to the 'truancy kids school'... Silvia is not considered a 'fit guardian', as she is only nineteen-ish... so it looks like they will be broken up. Karel learns that if he and Sylvia are married, then Frank could stay (although I'm not sure how that solves the truancy problem... the promise of corporal punishment, perhaps? Which leads to a whole new set of issues...). So, Karel propses, but... there's that little 'illegally in this country at the present time' issue he has to resolve...so he hooks up with a lawyer (first misstep), who promises him that he can make him a citizen...until a) he finds out Karel has no money; and b) he learns of how much money he can make by turning in an illegal alien... so, he dupes Karel into thinking he will help him, when in fact he calls the deportation dudes on him... so, it's off to the pokey for Karel, which happens to occur just after the truancy dudes tote off Frank from Sylvia, who at this point is not a fan of governmental agencies in general.
Karel and Sylvia arrive at the police station, where ol' Murphy, who has gotten to be fair buds with Karel, just happens to be on duty... so you can probably surmise the remainder of the film, which wraps up pretty neatly.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, as usual, it's really hard to not say ALL the moments... but as far as just a 'knockout' scene, when she is fixing her hair in her boudoir is just downright HAWT, y'all... ...as for a 'theme' to this edition of 'parallel universe GingerFilm', er...how about THIS - The setting is the headquarters for...Gingerology, circa 1935... ...yeah, I don't know where I come up with this stuff, either...
...here we find a dude jamming out on some bear claws haphazardly left out by the folks at Gingerology....they can never say we don't feed 'em! Ginnie McMathers, Administrative Assistant to the CEO, catches the vagrant cramming donuts down his craw until he doesn't have right good sense...
"...Hey, how's about some Diet Mountain Dew with those pastries, son? It's the Big Guy's favorite, y'know..."
"..."Big Guy"? Er, who is that?"
"...Why, Mr. Huey, of course...only the most powerful blogger on the Eastern Seaboard..."
"...yeah, that hair of yours really looks super, man..."
"...well, so long, Lieutenant Ho-Ho...I'm off to meet with The Boss..."
"...er...excuse me, miss...may I meet this "Mr. Huey"? I am in dire need of legal tender... or for that matter, illegal tender...this IS 1935, after all..."
"...Really? Well, times are tough, and hiring is rare... but sure, it's worth a try..."
"...Mr. Huey is always open to hiring folks with talent...like inhaling a box of Krispy Kremes...and I can put in a good word for you..."
"...Oh, hi, Captain Murphy..."
"...If you're showing up for yer daily cruller intake, Murph, you're too late...Clark Kent here plowed thru a dozen glazed in about five minutes...he even ate the holes!"
"...This cat can REALLY go thru the dunkins, Murph...he probably has a future in law enforcement..."
"...Oh, is that SOOOO? Well, I keep track of all the riff-raff that pilfers my empty calorie supply...so you better straighten it up, turtleneck..."
"...Mr. Huey, I hate to bother you, but...I have a favor to ask..."
"...Why sure, Miss Ginny... why, I'd drive to Boston and back for you, you know that..."
"...just massage my temples whist you voice your request...yes...that's grand..."
"...OK, Cleotis...you're hired...anyone recommended by Miss McMathers here is fine with me... I just had to axe a few OGREs a week ago, for misleading information regarding the whereabouts of one "Hat Check Girl"...it's a long story... in due time... "
"...In fact, I'm gonna put you in charge of being Miss Ginny's 'bodyguard'... but don't go all Kevin Costner on us, OK? She'll show you to your office now... great to have you aboard, er... what's your name again, cousin?..."
"...I wonder what would happen if I dropped a watermelon from this height..."
"...you know, it's weird, but...this cat's reminding me of someone else..."
"...Charlie Sheen...oof...no wonder he can suck down so many donuts at one sitting...especially the powdered ones..."
"...OK, so here's the deal... you have an...er, 'exterior office'..."
"...I mean, the roof isn't so bad... it's at the top, right? Like the 'penthouse'...heck, it's ABOVE the penthouse..."
...this one's just...a cool pic of our girl...
"...No more sugar for you Mr. Huey! What would Dr. Atkins say?"
"...Look, Hu, I'm not too sure about this deal with Clyde over here following me around everywhere..."
"...I can take care of myself, you know..."
"...Remember the book-flinging scene in "Professional Sweetheart?""
"...So, I asked Mr. Huey if I could borrow a vehicle for transporting you to wherever you need to be transported to, and he said, "Sure, Chester, take the keys to my Hupmobile..."
"...He also said to tell you to pick up another case or two of Diet Mountain Dew..."
"...OK, you all out there still bothering to read this... I'm going to make my big move on Ginny, even at the risk of utter vaporization by Mr. Huey..."
"...look, Hu will slice and dice anyone that tries to make a move on me... I know he is a short little fellow, and quite baby-faced, but...he's a dangerous man, Cleo... one of the most influential bloggers on the web...why, he single-handedly altered the course of a MAJOR poll for best actress of all-time...many threats and barbs were traded as a result, but his stature just grew...well, figuratively, anyway... so, we better just keep the proceedings well above board, eh?"
"...anyway...in case ya haven't figured it out yet, I'm engaged to be married to Hu, after football season ends...you know, it's an attendance killer to throw nuptials during the playoffs..."
...Huey (again, present-day...) digs the hair here......yepyepyep...
"...Look, Mr. Huey told me to tell you to get down to headquarters right away... the next GingerFilm post HAS to get out by tomorrow..."
"...I'll do this manual labor stuff here...owuchy on the board thingy... haven't you heard of Whirlpool, lady?"
...Huey (present-day) Notes - the sequence of caps to follow are even more incredible than I thought they would be... and pretty much shows how Ginger could pretty much light up the screen with little or no effort... and yeah, Ginger doing her hair is a BIG 'hot and bothered' situation for Huey... of course there are actually about 20 or so of these caps for this sequence, so...stay tuned...
...if you've ever wondered what 'floating head Ginger' would look like, well, here ya go...a wee bit strange...but, still cute as all get-out, of course...
"...Hopefully we can get this post out in good shape... I just LOVE working to the wee hours of the morning with Mr. Huey...what girl WOULDN'T?"
"...But this Chester fella IS pretty cute...and seems to have a good heart..."
"...Now I'm trying to remember how "The Tip-Off" ended up...this one appears to be headed that way...and SOMEBODY got waxed at the end, right?"
"...OK, Here goes, Miss Ginny... Huey be danged..."
"...you know you're Dead Man Walking now, right, Clarence?"
"...Oh, I feel OK... I don't think Mr Huey's gonna find out about..."
"...Oh, HELLO, Mr. Huey, sir!!! We were just... er... holding each other up... I think we were fixing to pass out from all the Borax fumes..."
...and, now, folks, we give you...GINGERSURFER!!!...
...another smashing screencap...love the backlighting on the hair...
[justice of the peace, off-screen] "...look, folks, you know there's an investigation going on regarding improper practices at Gingerology...I can't discuss the details at the present time, but...suffice it to say that until this probe is completed, I cannot perform any marriage ceremonies involving the accused party, lest it affect the outcome of said investigation..."
"...Oh, Ginnie, what's this feller tryin' to SAY???? All's I know is, your Huey's hurtin'....BAD... smother me in your lacy neckline thingy...and temple massages to follow..."
"...Look, babe, I've got to haul it outta town until the heat blows over... if anyone asks where I am, tell them I'm in Pago Pago or something..."
"...Hi, Miss Ginny! Have you heard from Mr. Huey? I haven't seen him for a few days now... I've just been hanging out with Murph, scarfing doughnuts and bonking vagrants over the noggin with billy clubs...it's quite a rush, actually...you should try it!"
"...No thanks... er, listen...Mr. Huey has gone away for awhile... on...business..."
"...Look, Chaz, here's the deal... Huey is... involved in some pretty heavy stuff...it may be best that you don't know the details...I don't want you to be dragged into this mess...in fact...I think...Huey gave you this gig to see that I am...cared for in the event that... well, in case something were to happen to him... you know... "
"...FBI, Ma'am...Interpol Division...we've discovered multiple illegal downloads of RKO movies on Mr. Huey's computer... you're going to have to come downtown with us, for a material witness..."
"...look, don't y'all need to be out protecting us from REAL criminals or somethin'? If y'all just made DVDs a bit more affordable, there wouldn't be an issue... and how 'bout putting out a Ginger BOX SET, fer cryin' out loud???"
"...Looks like your Baby Huey is headed for the big house, sugarfoot...oh, how soft your frilly collar bib thingy feels at this moment...may I never forget it..."
"...They took Huey away...for...bootlegging! Or something like that..."
"...Huey can't survive in the big house...he just CAN'T!!! He'll waste away to nothing without the blog...and...there's no Diet Mountain Dew there, no hot chicken wings...and who will massage his temples? WHO?"
"...ALLLLLLRIGHT, then! Oh, what woeful times are these, where a bleedin' bugger helps himself to obviously copyrighted material without the expressed written consent of the holder of the copyright...I say we cut him in two with... a HERRING!!!"
"...I didn't know Eric Idle was a District Attorney now..."
"...shoot, y'all...most all those old RKO movies are public domain...ANYONE can copy them, with no real issues!"
"...public domain...well how's about that..."
"...Well, what Mr. Huey doesn't know won't hurt him, right?...he'll make some nice friends in Sing-Sing... and we'll name our first young un' after him, if that's alright with you, Ginny my darling..."
"Ginger Rogers, one of the more realistic Hollywood blondes, keeps the picture somewhere near the ground in spite of Mr. Lederer's effect of sending it soaring off into space." - New York Sun
"With Ginger Rogers for his romantic partner, the pride of the Czechs (Francis Lederer) makes a generally engaging light entertainment out of the slightly anemic materials of Manhattan Romance...Miss Rogers continues to be among the most pleasing of the younger Hollywood actresses." - New York Times
"By expert trouping, Ginger Rogers and Francis Lederer, co-starred, lend considerable credibility to otherwise shallow roles." - Variety
"Ginger Rogers, portraying a hard-hit chorus girl, gets into the swing of the tale and handles her role naturally and sympathetically." - New York Evening Post
From GINGER: My Story: "About five days after finishing The Gay Divorcee, I was put into Romance in Manhattan, directed by Stephen Roberts. My leading man was a promising young actor, Francis Lederer. He was handsome, genuine, and very professional; I predicted stardom for him. Alas, it didn't come. The studio didn't know how to handle him or how to buy stories for him. His career never took off. Hollywood was (is?) a very parochial place, and once classified, actors could not easily break out of the mold. I faced the same problem myself. The bulk of my work was in light fare and I wanted to get some meaty roles. I fought like a tiger to get them to cast me in dramas, but it took a long time and a lot of effort to have my wish granted."
--- Although listed in the casting call as a cast member, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (who was the cab driver in "Rafter Romance") was not in the final film.
--- Francis Lederer lived to be 100.5 years old (11/6/1899 - 5/25/2000).
--- The director for this film was originally tabbed to be Mark Sandrich, per TCM and Hollywood Reporter.
--- The original plot was somewhat different than the final, as Karel still makes it to America, but 'officially' becomes a citizen right away - but is bilked out of his money by flim-flam artists, which forces him to become a singing waiter (really); the 'romance' angle appears to be different as well, for the original had him marrying and divorcing.
GingerFilm Ranking: #03 of 28. Ultimately, this one had to fall just below Rafter Romance, as it is a similar type of film... but scores a bit lower, as Mary Carroll is just a bit more sassy than Sylvia Dennis... but bottom line, this is a very likeable film which amply showcases Ginger in a nice way...not to mention VERY nice camera work regarding close-ups of our girl in all her radiant glory...a 'must-see' for Gingerologists...well, even more so than most...
This kinda brings us to how the ranking system is 'morphing' a bit over time... I am noticing that Professional Sweetheart is quite high, due to Glory Eden's hyper-sassiness... but then again the more 'practical' side of Ginger is pretty awesome as well, and as it will be the prevalent trait of many future Ginger characters, look for high marks for these future films... of course, we are nearing the 'Ginger as lead actress / character' era anyway, so the list will be shaken up quite a bit over the next double handful of films...
After Twenty-Seven Reviews:
#01 - The Gay Divorcee
#02 - Rafter Romance
#03 - Romance in Manhattan
#04 - Professional Sweetheart
#05 - 42nd Street
#06 - Flying Down to Rio
#07 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#08 - Sitting Pretty
#09 - The Tenderfoot
#10 - The Tip-Off
#11 - Upper World
#12 - Queen High
#13 - Change of Heart
#14 - Young Man of Manhattan
#15 - You Said A Mouthful
#16 - Carnival Boat
#17 - A Shriek in the Night
#18 - The Thirteenth Guest
#19 - Don't Bet On Love
#20 - Chance at Heaven
#21 - Finishing School
#22 - Broadway Bad
#23 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#24 - The Sap From Syracuse
#25 - Suicide Fleet
#26 - Follow The Leader
#27 - Honor Among Lovers
#28 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Roberta... .Ginger's third film with Mr. Astaire sees them in a somewhat 'supportive' role, but still quite dazzling nonetheless... The 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' routine is the 'biggie' in this one, although there's no such thing as an 'average' GandF dance...
Until then, as always...