Tag Archives: The ’90s

Sassing, Sobbing, and Strumming a Few Chords on a Ukulele: Ginger Rogers as Tragi-Comic Heroine

29 Jun

Posted as part of the Funny Lady Blogathon put on by that talented and prolific purveyor of silent-movie gifs and other intriguing gems, Fritzi, of Movies, Silently.

I have a Top Hat poster in my room.

It’s this one.  It was given to me for maybe my 13th or 14th birthday by someone who knew I loved classic films in general, musicals specifically, and Ginger Rogers especially.

But I have a confession:

I don’t like Top Hat.  In fact, I don’t like any of the Rogers-Astaire musicals from the ’30s, and I just can’t put my finger on why.

Let me retrace my affection for Ginger Rogers.

The first classic movie I watched on my own (I mean, I spent every Christmas Eve watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and I think my mom and I had probably committed four hours to Gone with the Wind at some indistinguishable point in my childhood, but those don’t count because they weren’t my own choices although they both remain in my very-favorite-movie list) was a little number that’s not even that classic or that good.  It’s a weepy-wartime, totally ludicrous affair called I’ll Be Seeing You.

It stars Ginger Rogers as a sexually harassed secretary who accidentally shoves her boss out of a window (killing him, of course) when he tries to molest her.  She goes to prison and then she gets out on some kind of furlough for the holidays and goes to stay with her aunt (Spring Byington [best character actress ever]), uncle, and cousin (Shirley Temple).  Nobody trusts poor Ginger, and there’s a lot of family drama and some cattiness, and a lot of Ginger Rogers looking totally glamorously upset in gorgeous Edith Head gowns.

Meanwhile, Joseph Cotten is a half-crazy-from-shellshock WWII GI who’s on leave.  They fall in love, and neither of them tells the other their entire stories.

More drama ensues, the truths come out, Ginger goes back to prison, but Joseph declares his everlasting love, and all is well.

At the end, Ginger and I were both bawling, and I wanted her hair, her clothes, and her tragic and nonsensical love story.  (I was 12. Sue me.)

And then, as any good fangirl in 1999 would do, I decided I needed to boot up AOL and figure out what Ginger Rogers movies I could watch next.

Perhaps the next was Gold Diggers of 1933.  While I enjoyed Ginger’s turn as the hilariously gold-diggingest gold digger, I was more mesmerized by the Busby Berkeley choreography, Joan Blondell’s outrageous beauty and delightful warble, and the general charm of a fast-paced, tightly scripted pre-code.  And so I took a detour down that sort of road for a while.

And I branched out to other ladies–Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, even a brief thing with Kay Francis, and many, many hours with Ann Sothern as Maisie.  And countless others in varying degrees of fangirlish devotion.  Joan Crawford was a late edition, but at the peak of our affair, it was pretty intense.

But then I was back to Ginger and her great tragedies: Kitty Foyle, The Primrose Path, Tender Comrade.  I tried her Astaire stuff and even sort of liked The Barkleys of Broadway, but, for me, there was nothing like Ginger in tears, losing her man, having children out of wedlock, etc.

And then I watched Stage Door where she’s opposite Katherine Hepburn in an actress boarding house, fighting with her for parts and finally becoming BFFs.  And I partially realized what the deal is with my thing for Ginger.

No better foil exists for Ginger Rogers than Katherine Hepburn.  I don’t dislike Katherine Hepburn, and I don’t want anyone to mistake the following for criticism because Kate is obviously marvelous and can make me laugh and cry just as well as anybody, but she certainly has a persona (which is like half the plot of Stage Door): that New England aristocrat with a recognizable tinny voice and a rigid physique who’s rather dour in her tragic roles and who is always ultra stagy.

And then there’s Ginger–soft and flexible, draped casually over a chair playing a ukulele, with her big clear eyes and her buttery midwestern voice barking out sassy witticisms but then also cooing softly to her friends when they’ve had a bad day.

I realized seeing this juxtaposition that I love watching Ginger Rogers cry because she does it as she does all things: with half a smile on her face.

I like her in tragedies because she’s open and warm-looking and funny like your best friend is funny–not like stand-up comic funny but clever jabs and pratfalls funny.

I like her in tragedies because she seems so honest.

I like her in tragedies because in real life she’s a comedic actress.

And her sensitivity to the comedy of tragedy shows in the way she plays someone so foolish and silly but with so much heart like Kitty Foyle or the gal in I’ll Be Seeing You.

Workforce: A Good Movie Night, But a Bad Movie (That Isn’t Even Really a Movie)

3 Mar

Apparently, bourbon makes Tish and I both pretty giggly and pretty appreciative of bad movies.

Because we were livin’ the dream watching “Workforce” the other evening when we decided to drink a little whiskey and have a Janeway Movie Night (which is what we call any two-part Star Trek: Voyager).

And then I woke up the next day with a small, inconspicuous hangover and the aching feeling that what we had watched was not very good after all.

So, without further ado, here’s a review of “Workforce,” brought to you by Rebel Yell.

First a Synopsis:

The Cylons were created by man… Hold on… What?

Our show opens with Flirty!Janeway happily working on Caprica some alien planet as some kind of engineer.  We don’t know why Janeway is so flirty, nor do we know why she seems not to know she’s a starship captain.

Then Flirty!Janeway flirts with a lame alien dude (Jaffen), and EfficiencyMonitor!Seven shows up to quell the flirting–because it’s inefficient, of course–and Flirty!Janeway pulls some faces.  And they all go off to get their weekly injections that “protect against some radiation or something” (read: keep them submissive, complacent, etc.).

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Why Don’t You Come Out to the Delta Quadrant Sometime and See Me?

26 Sep

I’m always creepin’ ’round teh internetz looking for blogathons to join because, say it with me now, my blog is super lame.  Well, I was looking the other day, and came across one that seemed kind of promising, but then I couldn’t think of anything to write about because I was only half interested in the subject; however, it did lead me to a link to a different blogathon that held a tad more interest for me.  I started researching a little and realized I COULD POTENTIALLY WRITE ABOUT CLASSIC MOVIES AND/OR CAPTAIN JANEWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Word.

So, without further ado, below looms my entry for Angela and her HollywoodRevue’s Paramount Centennial Blogathon.

Here’s my train of thought (disclaimer:  history filtered through my brain):

Movie studios faced some tough times during the Depression.  They had all this sound they didn’t exactly know what to do with yet.  They had all these actors who were kinda broad and weird from silent movies.  They didn’t have a strict production code to keep them from a million extraneous scenes of Marlene Dietrich swimming naked in ponds or Barbara Stanwyck taking off her stockings.  And they were having trouble getting an audience because everybody was super poor.

So, in the early ’30s, Paramount looked to Broadway, found a gal with a hit show, and gave her a movie deal.  That movie?  She Done Him Wrong.  That gal?  Mae West.

Subsequently, Paramount’s financial troubles lessened.

Fast forward 60 years.

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Top 5 Janeway Hairdos

6 Sep

For a more thorough examination of this topic, please consult this fabulous video.

Oh, Captain Janeway.  Girl got some hair.  Sonnets could be written.  But I’m not going that direction.  Ima do a list of my favorites.

Honorable Mention: Evil Pompadour

Evil Janeway’s evil pompadour in “Living Witness”–with bonus evil glove and evil stink eye.

Most Prominent Appearance: “Living Witness”

What It Says:  “Force must be applied without apology. It’s the Starfleet way.”

Why I Love It:  It makes no sense to me that those future people would imagine her with that short, dark, kinda butch hair.  Wouldn’t all records indicate that Janeway usually (as of Season 4) kept her hair frivolously long and luxurious?  Whatever, though.  Still pretty great.

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The Lure and Lull of Hella Long TV Plots

14 Aug

Some mild spoilers for Voyager (kind of), SVU (a little), and Damages (a tiny one). 

I’m always looking for something new on Netflix.  And I always want to start a new show that I’ve heard is amazing, but then I don’t.  I end up going back to something formulaic and episodic.

The thing is, sometimes I’m just not ready to commit to something for eternity even though the idea of it consistently makes me put things of this nature in my instant queue–things with rich mythology and evolving characters and moral dilemmas and twisty political plots.

For example, currently I’m stuck mid-season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.  I love the characters, and I’m intrigued by the story, and I want to know everything about the mythology, but I’m finding myself impatient.  Which is totally weird for me.  I love surprises!  I can wait for almost anything.

But I love the ideas in the show so much that I went online to research other people’s analysis, and I ended up half-accidentally uncovering a lot of spoilers.

I know, Cylon Xena.  That’s how I feel about it, too.

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