Saturday, August 09, 2003


An odd little melodrama that might have been more interesting had it been done in the pre-Code years and with a different lead actress. Set, I think, in Florida, or at any rate, near a beach community, Ginger Rogers plays a young girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Her mother (Marjorie Rambeau, nominated for a supporting actress Oscar) is married to a broken-down, alcoholic scholar without a job (Miles Mander), but she apparently worked in the past (and perhaps in the present) as a prostitute, as did Rogers' grandmother (Queenie Vassar). Rambeau must feel that whoring is in the blood, because we get hints that she is thinking of pimping for her own daughter--though being a film made under the Production Code, this is all rather oblique. Rogers, fresh-faced and a bit tomboyish, meets up with handsome Joel McCrea who works in a beachfront diner and the two hit it off. They get married, which allows Rogers to think she'll be able to escape her tawdry family situation. She gets a job at the diner (Henry Travers is the good-hearted boss) and there is a nice scene of Rogers and McCrea trading "Cheers"-like quips with the clientale. But soon, McCrea finds out about her background and, thinking he's been played for a fool, leaves her. After a few melodramatic plot developments, they wind up together at the end. Joan Carroll, the middle daughter in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, is Rogers' kid sister; Charles Lane is a rich friend/client of Rambeau's. The mean grandmother is the most interesting character and Vassar is good in the role; she should have had more screen time, and should also have had a stronger comeuppance for all her mischief, since she is the one who deliberately lies to McCrea and causes him to leave Rogers. The beach and sea settings are nicely detailed and realistic. Rogers, who was almost 30, is stuck playing a part way too young for her, which defuses the situation a bit--it would have been much more effective for an actress in her early 20's to play the part.

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