Posts Tagged ‘Gladys Cooper’

My Classic Movie Pick: Kitty Foyle

Ginger Rogers had enjoyed a successful film career that began in 1929, but it really took off in 1933, when she teamed up with dancer Fred Astaire.  Ginger and Fred made 9 musical films together, from 1933-39, and all proved to be box office hits.  By 1940, Astaire and Rogers wanted to make other movies, so the partnership broke up(though they did reunite for 1949’s The Barkley’s of Broadway) and Ginger moved on, starring in various comedic and dramatic roles.  In 1940, she starred in the film, Kitty Foyle, and for her performance, won the Best Actress Oscar at 1941’s Academy Awards.  Her award-winning role is my classic movie pick for today.

Kitty Foyle poster 1

Kitty Foyle began as a book, written by Christopher Morley, in 1939.  It was a best-seller, and so often happens with best-selling books, Hollywood came calling.  RKO Studios bought the rights to Morley’s book and made the movie version.  Sam Wood was chosen to direct and  Millard Kaufman wrote the screenplay.  Ginger was chosen to play Kitty, and the two leading men for the film were Dennis Morgan and James Craig.  Supporting cast included: Eduardo Cianelli, Ernest Cossart, Gladys Cooper, and Odette Myrtil.

Ginger(who let her natural reddish-brown hair color come through for the role) is outstanding as Kitty.  As the film opens,  we meet Kitty Foyle, a pretty, smart businesswoman who is an executive at Delphine Detaille’s Fashion House.  Kitty is deep in thought as she has to make a choice.  Marry Dr. Mark Eisen or stay unattached so that her former love and husband, the wealthy  Wyn Strafford, can sweep into her life yet again.

We then see Kitty’s life in a flashback.   Kitty is a poor girl, growing up in Philadelphia, raised by her widower father(Cossart).  She is always daydreaming about living a life of wealth, more of a Cinderella-type dream where a rich, handsome, young man will swoop in and be her Prince Charming. Her dad, whom she affectionately calls Pops, warns her to stop the daydreaming and wake up to reality.  One day, however, she does meet her Prince Charming, Wynnewood Strafford VI played charmingly by Dennis Morgan.  It’s love at first sight!

Kitty & Pops

Kitty & Pops

Wyn wants to be a businessman in his own right and doesn’t want to join in the family’s banking business. He has begun a magazine and after he meets Kitty, he hires her to be the secretary for his new venture.  Love blooms between Wyn and Kitty.  When the magazine fails, Wyn’s weak side shines through as he goes back to his family and enters the banking business, and refuses to ask Kitty to marry him because he’s afraid of what his family will say about his wanting to marry a girl not from their same social standing.

Kitty, Wyn's new secretary

Kitty, Wyn’s new secretary

Kitty & Wyn-it's love!!

Kitty & Wyn-it’s love!!

Kitty’s father passes away and she is off to New York to seek a new life.  She gets a job at Delphine’s (Odette Myrtil) fashionable shop for ladies.  While at the shop one day, Kitty accidentally sets off the store’s burglar alarm and pretends to faint to hide her error.  A doctor is summoned and he has a “meet cute” moment with Kitty.  He is Dr. Mark Eisen(James Craig) who teases Kitty into going out on a date with him and she agrees to the date.  After seeing Mark quite a lot, Kitty begins to have fond feelings for him, but then Wyn reappears, in NYC!  He finds Kitty and begs her to marry him, that he is desperately in love with her!  What’s a girl to do?

Kitty going on a case with Dr. Mark!

Kitty going on a case with Dr. Mark!

Kitty holding the new baby Mark has delivered

Kitty holding the new baby Mark has delivered

Kitty with Mark

Kitty with Mark

Wedding bells ring, and Wyn and Kitty marry, agreeing that the only way their marriage will last is if they don’t live in Philadelphia.  They decide to settle in NYC.  Wyn also decides that he needs to introduce Kitty to his family.  During their visit to the family estate, Kitty is treated very coldly, especially by Wyn’s mother(wonderful British actress Gladys Cooper, who was often called upon to play imperious mothers or mother-in-laws!) and Kitty learns that unless Wyn joins in the banking business in Philadelphia, he will be disinherited and will be left penniless.   Kitty can see that Wyn won’t be able to stand up to the threat of losing all his money, so she quietly goes back to NYC alone and files for an annullment.

Kitty meeting Mrs. Strafford, Wyn's mother

Kitty meeting Mrs. Strafford, Wyn’s mother

Back in NYC, Kitty is back at her job with Delphine and life is going on when Kitty discovers that she is pregnant!  Before Kitty can tell Wyn about their baby, she finds out in a society section of the NY Times that Wyn is engaged to a girl from a prominent Philadelphia family!  More troubles come Kitty’s way, but she does have her steady work at Delphine’s, and that brings the audience back to Kitty at the film’s beginning.  Whom will she choose?  Wyn or Dr. Mark?  I don’t want to reveal the movie’s ending as I want you, the readers of this blog, to seek it out!

From time to time it airs on TCM(Turner’s Classic Movies cable channel) but it isn’t on the list for the remaining days of February.  The film is available in a dvd for sale at TCM’s Shop.  It is available to buy via Amazon or to watch it through their instant rent program.  Lastly, a kind soul put various trailers of it on Youtube.  By trailers, I mean an advertisement for the movie, that audiences in 1940 would have seen at movie theatres.

Kitty Foyle is a lovely film.  It’s charming, romantic, sad at times, with Ginger Rogers never hitting a wrong note in her portrayal of such a strong, sensible character.  It’s no wonder she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal.

Ginger Rogers with her Oscar for Best Actress and Jimmy Stewart with his Oscar for Best Actor

Ginger Rogers with her Oscar for Best Actress and Jimmy Stewart with his Oscar for Best Actor

 

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Mr. Lucky

I was discussing classic films with a friend this week and we both agreed, any movie that stars Cary Grant is an automatic favorite film and a  must-see.  That bit of discussion set my brain to thinking about Cary Grant films  and I  decided that  I should write about  one of his more obscure films, but one  that is still a good movie to view.  Plus it features  the hobby of knitting!  Yes, Cary has to learn to knit in this film!  It is 1943’s Mr. Lucky, produced by RKO studios and directed by H.C. Potter.  It was bought by RKO from Milton Holmes’s story, “Bundles for Freedom” and he,  along with Adrian Scott, wrote the screenplay.  Grant’s co-stars in the film are Laraine Day, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Alan Carney, Paul Stewart, Kay Johnson, and Florence Bates.Mr. Lucky

This comedy-romance-drama, is set in New York City as World War II is raging.    Grant plays Joe “The Greek” Adams, a gambler with a couple of problems.  He and his gambling partner, Zepp(Paul Stewart),  have received draft notices and neither of them wants to serve.  They have to come up with a plan to get out of the draft.  One of their gambling employees, Joe Bascopolous, has died and his draft  status was 4F.  Either Joe or Zepp can use Bascopolous’s identity so they decide to gamble for it.  Zepp cheats but Joe wins and decides to now go by the name of Joe Bascopolous.  The second problem for Joe is the lack of money to pay for his gambling ship.  He wants to raise enough dough to take his ship down to Cuba.  How will Joe find that bankroll of dough?

Joe(Grant) and Zepp(Paul Stewart) discussing their two problems.

Joe(Grant) and Zepp(Paul Stewart) discussing their two problems.

He finds it through a local War Relief organization, run by society ladies, and the head lady is Veronica Steadman, played by Gladys Cooper.   Joe has to gain Mrs. Steadman’s trust, the trust of the other ladies at the organization, and the trust of wealthy society lady Dorothy Bryant, played by Laraine Day.  Miss Bryant is beautiful, single, rich, and second-in-command at the War Relief organization, and Joe knows he has to have a positive influence on her if he is to gain Mrs. Steadman’s approval and money.  To prove his trustworthiness, after he has pledged that he wants to join the group of ladies, he agrees to learn to knit!  One of the daily tasks for the ladies  is to knit socks and scarves for the soldiers overseas, and it is a very comical scene as Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) takes on the task with joy and energy of teaching Joe how to knit one and purl two!  Seeing a handsome man in their midst is also quite an event for the ladies of the organization!

It's a delight to find out that Cary Grant has joined your group!

It’s a delight to find out that Cary Grant has joined your group!

Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) who gets to teach Cary Grant how to knit!

Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) who gets to teach Cary Grant how to knit!

Learning to knit can be frustrating!

Learning to knit can be frustrating!

Mrs. Veronica Steadman(Gladys Cooper), head of the War Relief organization

Mrs. Veronica Steadman(Gladys Cooper), head of the War Relief organization

With all of the knitting going on, and Joe’s punctuality and  his well-dressed and polite persona, he  wins  Mrs. Steadman and Miss Bryant over and soon they agree to a fundraising idea he has for the organization: a charity gambling night.  Joe promises the ladies that they’ll raise enough money to outfit a relief ship.  What Joe is really planning to do is supply the charity gambling event with cashboxes with false bottoms in them so Joe and his gambling outfit can steal the winnings and with that money, he can take his gang and his ship south to Cuba.  However, a letter Joe receives that morning changes everything.  Joe  receives a letter from the real Joe Bascopolous’s mother in Greece.  The letter is written in Greek and Joe is curious about it’s contents so he visits a nearby Greek Orthodox Church and asks the priest there to translate it for him.  The letter informs Joe that the Nazis overran their village and how all of the Greek men died trying to protect their village.  Joe thanks the priest for translating the letter and then heads to the nearest park bench, to sit and think about his life, in comparison to the brave Greek men’s lives.

When Joe arrives at the War Relief organization for the start of the Charity Casino Night, he tells his co-hort, Crunk,(Alan Carney), that he has decided to put all of the winnings towards the ladies’ goal for  war relief.  Zepp overhears this change in plans and decides to stop this from happening.  At the end of the evening, Zepp pulls a gun on Joe and forces him to gather up the winnings.  Dorothy accidentally enters the room and sees Joe collecting the money and assumes the worst about Joe, that he is really just a no-good gambler and crook.  To protect Dorothy so she can’t be one of Zepp’s victims, Joe knocks her out,and  then Joe manages to attack Zepp and kills him in self-defense, but also gets shot in the altarcation.  Joe then  escapes from the War Relief organization’s building.

Some days go by and  Dorothy is feeling very low and stupid for having fallen for Joe and his offer to help the War Relief organization.   One day a man arrives at the War Relief’s building.  He introduces himself as Mr. Hard Swede, that he is a friend of Joe’s, and that Joe wanted him to give the ladies a packet.  In the packet is the money that the ladies rightly earned through their Charity Casino night!  Some more days go by and Dorothy is informed that Joe Bascopolous is dead.  She asks to see a picture of Joe and it isn’t the Joe that she fell in love with.  She learns that Bascopolous worked on a ship called the “Briny Marlin” and remembering some Australian slang phrases Joe had taught her one evening, she rushes to the docks, knowing that the ship and her Joe are probably there.   Dorothy reaches the dock and sees the ship and Joe and begs him to take her with him.  Joe has loaded his ship with war relief supplies and informs Dorothy that he is sailing to Europe and it will be too dangerous to take her with him.  He treats her rudely, as he doesn’t want her to know his real feelings for her.  A few weeks later, Dorothy finds out that the Briny Marlin was torpedoed on its return to New York City and sunk.  Despite this awful news, Dorothy is confident that Joe somehow survived  and she visits the dock each night waiting for his return.

The movie has a happy ending and I don’t want to reveal more to ruin it for the viewer.  Suffice it to say that the movie was a huge hit with the audiences of 1943 and it earned a profit of $1, 603,000 at the box office.  If you are a Cary Grant fan, or if you love knitting, if you want a film that has a bit of a deeper message than a typical romance-comedy, than seek out Mr. Lucky.  The movie is available through Amazon.com, clips of it are on Youtube, and Turner Classic Movies will be airing it this weekend, on March 30th, at 10:30 p.m. CST.

Cary and Laraine

Trying to work his charm on Miss Bryant(Laraine Day).

Trying to work his charm on Miss Bryant(Laraine Day).

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