Ginger Rogers and you expect the name Fred Astaire to follow. Makes sense they made six movies together and have danced their way into movie history where dance teams are still measured by up to them. Ginger Rogers made over 60 movies in four decades playing in comedies, dramas, and of course musicals.
She usually plays the rough fast talking independent sales girl trying to find the right guy. Out of the movies that I have seen, the first one is still my favorite – Stage Door. Although I do enjoy her with Cary Grant and Marlin Monroe in Monkey Business because I think that she is a much stronger and more enjoyable actresses in comedic roles. I am a Gene Kelly fan and more on the side of musicals when they were on their way out rather than the Busby Berkely era. So Flying Down to Rio, Follow the Fleet, and Swing Time aren’t what I would watch on a rainy night in but no doubt the dancing and acting is there and everyone should watch one or two to judge themselves. There are classics.
So can we talk about Stage Door for minute? This 1937 dramedy has Katherine Hepburn, Adolphe Menjou, Ann Miller, Eve Arden, and Lucille Ball with Ginger Rogers about stage actresses trying to make it on Broadway while living together in a boarding house. It is funny! The chemistry with all the ladies with the one lines and zingers that they throw around is very entertaining. The drama is there as well to make the plot even deeper for this wonderfully put together film. It is a movie that you can watch over and over again and still laugh at the lines while feeling for the ladies trying to make it on the stage.
If you need to straight up laugh then watch Monkey Business. Ginger and Cary are a married couple that are working together to prove that Cary Grant’s character youth formula works at making people younger. Super funny! Fast pace comedy with slapstick comedy mixed in with the support of a brilliant character actor, Charles Coburn. Perfect mix of actors with a solid script to make you laugh directed by Howard Hawks. A must see for sure!
In 1950 she made, Storm Warning, with Ronald Regan and Doris Day. It is a strong movie about the South and the Ku Klux Klan that is a very well done movie. I was surprised when I watched this movie on how well done it was, actually. I was interested in the combo of actors and wanted to watch some more of her movies and went in with not expecting much. I was wrong and should of went in with higher expectations. Rogers and Day are sisters and Rogers is passing through town to surprise visit her sister and meet her new husband. The trip takes a turn and doesn’t go quite as she planned or hoped. Well written and well edited with telling this story.
While I was reading more about Ginger Rogers, I found out that her mother Lela Rogers was a pretty remarkable lady. She and Ginger remained very close throughout her life and she helped direct Ginger’s career on the studio of RKO. Lela Rogers started an acting school, Hollywood Playhouse, on the lot of RKO and helped many many green actors to get their start. She also was the first woman to enlist in the Marine Corps and a founder of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. She acted and directed as well – see why Ginger Rogers was good at playing the tough lady working to make her own way!
Ginger Rogers acted on film and on the Broadway stage as well as directed a play at the age of 74. She won an Academy Award for Kitty Foyle in 1940 and was honored in 1992 at the Kennedy Center. AFI has Ginger Rogers ranked number 14 for the top female actors and she earned status of an American Icon.