Saturday, July 21, 2007


A cute romantic comedy which has become the focus of some pop culture press recently because it's one of a handful of films that had been missing from the RKO library for over 50 years until a hunt by Turner Classic Movies found them. It's pleasant but quite average for its era, and bound to be a disappointment to anyone expecting that all "rediscovered" lost movies are classic gems. In a Greenwich Village apartment house, struggling artist Norman Foster, who lives in the attic loft, is three months behind in rent to landlord George Sidney (doing some rather heavy-handed Jewish shtick). Young working girl Ginger Rogers is similarly in arrears, and although the two have never met, Sidney forces them into an arrangement whereby Rogers moves into Foster's attic room; the two will share it in 12-hour blocks. Since he works as a night watchman, he lives there from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and she occupies the space at night. They never meet but still manage to get on each other's nerves, mostly due to misunderstandings which escalate into a war of nasty pranks. In the meantime, of course, in the outside world, the two meet cute outside a deli without knowing each other's identity and begin a romance. Rogers works as a telemarketer (even back in 1933, such pains-in-the-ass existed; who knew?) for an ice box company and has to fight off the awkward attentions of boss Robert Benchley. Foster has his own battle against a constantly drunken rich patroness of the arts (Laura Hope Crews) who keeps hoping to seduce him by offering him lots of money for his paintings. Eventually, Foster accompanies Rogers on a company picnic, leading to the finale which sorts everything out into a happy ending for the couple (with Sidney claiming he meant such matchmaking all along). Rogers is a perfect fit for her role; Foster is a whiny, uncharismatic slouch but he's not bad enough to ruin the film. Benchley and Crews are both lots of fun, and Guinn Williams has a small role as a cab driver who begins feeling protective of Rogers. There's an odd little scene in which Sidney yells at his teenage son (Sidney Miller) for doodling swastikas on the wall. The boy responds that they are for good luck, but Sidney erases them anyway. By 1933, they would have been associated with the Nazis, though the Nazis would not yet be associated with mass murder; it's a strange moment that resonates weirdly for today's audience. Although this is a pre-Code film, there's not much explicitly racy behavior, but there are some suggestive shots of Rogers stripping and showering, and we see a very amusing sketch that Foster draws of Rogers' smiling face surrounded by a ring of thick sausages (reminding him of their first meeting at the deli). [TCM]

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