Another example of me being a dope and not checking the facts.
In 2006, Turner Classic Movies had their “Summer under the Stars” theme. So, while on a day off from the salt mines, I decided to give Rogers another look—signs of my slow-as-a-glacier maturity, no doubt. I began my day with Stage Door (1937). Ginger is a wisecracking chorine trying to make it big in theatre. She traded sarcastic remarks with no less than Katharine Hepburn and Gail Patrick—she had me right there! Ginger was so good! Her timing, her inflections on how she delivered the lines at a rapid-fire pace and yes, she hoofed it, too! She looked oh-so cute in top hat and short shorts and was stunning in her evening dress. She also emoted in her scenes which required pathos, and she’s effective as a major player in Stage Door—no small feat with Kate Hepburn as one’s co-star. Armed with newfound respect and interest for Ginger, I settled in for a glorious day with my new movie crush.
Later in the day I had my second great Ginger moment, which was in Weekend at the Waldorf (1946). This is a post-Astaire film and Rogers looked even more glamorous and beautiful as her movie star character was supposed to be. She was clearly the center of this Grand Hotel-sized cast and she wore a fantastic white dress that definitely caught my attention. Her performance was equally good, as she was a more mature character, definitely in the “ever after” period of a romance; something we wouldn’t see in her films with Fred Astaire until 1949’s The Barkleys of Broadway.
I also realized why Ginger had to purposely remove herself from the musical genre--she had to in order to strike out on her own. Otherwise, she would have been forever associated with Fred Astaire. Of course, that happened anyway, but at the time she became a box office heavyweight on her own, even winning an Oscar for 1940's Kitty Foyle. I just hope that Ginger’s solo career will get more notice and evaluation. She was the only star of her caliber to sing, dance, and excel at both comedy and drama. You’d be hard-pressed to find many of her better-known contemporaries who could claim the same distinction.
Now, excuse me I have to continue waiting for Vivacious Lady on DVD…