Friday, January 27, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #20 - Chance at Heaven
Directed by: William Seiter.
Associate Director: George Nicholls, Jr.
Executive Producer: Merian C. Cooper.
Associate Producer: H.N. Swanson.
Screenplay: Julien Josephson and Sarah Y. Mason.
Based on an Original Story by: Vina Delmar.
Cinematography by: Nick Musuraca.
Art Directors: Van Nest Polglase and Perry Ferguson.
Editor: James B. Morley.
Sound Recorder: Forrest Perley.
Musical Director: Max Steiner.
Musical Composition: Max Steiner and Roy Webb.
Makeup Artist: Mel Berns.
Still Photographer: John Miehle.
Special Effects Supervisor: Harry Redmond Sr.
Also Starring: Joel McCrea (as Blackstone 'Blacky' Gorman), Marian Nixon (as Glory Franklyn), Andy Devine (as Al), Lucien Littlefield (as Mr. Fred Harris), Virginia Hammond (as Mrs. S.T. Franklyn), George Meeker (as Sid Larrick), Ann Shoemaker (as Mrs. 'Mother' Harris).
UNCREDITED CAST: Robert McWade (Scenes Deleted), Herman Bing (as Franklyn's Chaffeur), Harry Bowen (as First Reporter), Steven Chase (as Betty's Escort), Helen Freeman (as Franklyn's Guest), Betty Furness (as Betty, Franklyn's Guest), and Thelma Hardwick (as Miss Bruce, Franklyn's Guest).
Ginger's Character: Marjorie 'Marje'/'Mug' Harris.
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 27 Minutes and 36 Seconds (38.9% of the film).
GingerTunes: "London Bridge is Falling Down (traditional)" - sung a cappella by Ginger Rogers and Joel McCrea.
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 6.0 - Well, this one really just ticks me off each time I see it, although it's not as bad as the first viewing I had of it a few years back. This is the first time I've watched it since that initial viewing, as Ginger's character Marje Harris simply gets played as a fool... and overall she just lets things play out without much resistance at ALL. This is NOT the typical Gingery role, but I think Ginger does play it as well as it could have been played... and her sweet, kind spirit DOES really make Ginger even more awesome...so it's not a total loss. Plus, there's quite a bit of Ginger 'screen time', so...that helps a bit, also.
Film Quality (1-10): 8.0 - Pretty fair copy from TCM...WB Archives also has a version, pretty much the same copy, it appears..
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Ginger's last 1933 offering (this one actually premiered in October of 1933, a few months prior to Rio - but, Ginger had them in this order in her bio, so...nuff said!) is a somewhat 'predictable' tale of love lost and love regained... with Ginger quite out of place, playing the sucker.
Ginger's character, Marjorie Harris, starts off the proceedings on her front porch waiting for her 'quasi-manfriend / reluctant fiancee / petrol station owner' Blackstone Gorman (Joel McCrea)...BTW, this porch really looks like the one in Tom, Dick and Harry, although I reckon most houses had decent porches back then...
Anyway, Marje's folks are about fed up with Blacky's waffling regarding the courtship of Marje...but he is just trying to get enough dough saved up to have a fair start to their marriage (BTW...that NEVER works...you'll never have enough dough socked away to feel comfortable).
Blacky and Marje do seem to eventually be headed towards the altar, when the proverbial third party appears as the dainty, ditsy and very wealthy Miss Glory Franklyn (Marian Nixon), who flirts with dudes by running over their belongings...Ginger's driving in this film is impeccable compared to this chick's.
Well, after Blackie performs a few repairs to Glory's chassis, she falls for him quite rapidly...and he is returning that sentiment towards her. This is where the whole movie loses me... Marje, instead of doing what a typical SassyGinger-type character would do, get into a free-for-all a la Vivacious Lady or Professional Sweetheart or Roxie Hart, just...steps aside.
SO, we are expected to believe that Marje is totally FINE with the proceedings...as a 'reverse Golddigger' waltzes right into town and swipe Mr. B right from Marje's pretty little clutches... ummm-hmmmm...
And of course, Blacky and Glory get hitched within a few days after Marje steps aside; When Marje tells Blackie to basically 'pursue' Glory for his 'chance at heaven', Blackie just stands there dolt-like and watches her walk out the door, without so much as a 'hey, wait a minute, Marje!'...arrgh, don't get me started on the sheer insanity of this scene...
Anyway, Blacky and Glory are now hitched, and in an even MORE strange turn of events, Marje actually BEFRIENDS Glory! I'm just not sure how often that would occur in real life, an ANY era... have y'all ever heard of a lady becoming big buds with the chick who stole her man? I'll just say, for the 'inverse' of this, if a dude came in and stole my chick, he would incur my wrath (such as it is, anyway...)...and DEFINITELY wouldn't be no friend o' mine...
Well, as expected, the nuptials are ill-fated, as Glory's mother (Virginia Hammond) hangs around trying to get Glory to 'de-elope', as it were, and get back under her wing and in the 'proper circles', of course. During this time, Glory finds out she is expecting...and this news is what Mama needed in order to talk Blacky into letting her take Glory to New York for awhile to 'rest' and have proper care.
Well, wouldn't ya know it, Glory and Mama seem to forget their way back to...well, wherever Blacky is located... and of course when he gathers a bit of news regarding her whereabouts, he heads out to NYC to try to win Glory back...who is now NOT expecting...hmmm... that's weird...
Well, this is usually the place I say, 'You go find out what happens'...but this one is SO predictable, I'll finish it up...in a nutshell, Glory stays with her Mama, and Blacky heads back home to find Marje cooking up supper for him as if NOTHING EVER HAPPENED... The End.
Favorite Ginger Moments: There's a few cool sequences here for Ginger... a favorite line in particular is when Marje and Glory are doing 'girl-talk' and Marje is mixing drinks (kinda weird to see Ginger doing that, but...) when Glory says she wants her gin 'straight', Marje warns her, but when she persists, Marje states, "...rub it in your hair if you like..." A pretty funny line to me.
Here's the caps...lots of cool GingerPics... but since the storyline hacks me off so, I just decided to go in a totally different direction with the captions...surprised? Ginger basically gets to 'Gold-Dig' a bit in my 'parallel universe edition' (PUE for short...uh, yeah...), what she DIDN'T get to do much of over on the Warner lot...
"If this picture gets by with the average audience, it will be on Ginger Rogers' account. I understand some expert told her she'd been given bad 'camera angles' in the film. If that's so, I suggest she stick to bad ones in the future, because they resulted in the most convincing job she's done to date." - Hollywood Spectator
"The cast is a pleasant one, with Joel McCrea, Ginger Rogers and Marian Nixon playing the featured roles, and helps to make this Chance at Heaven much more palatable than it essentially is." - New York World Telegram
"Joel McCrea gives quite a satisfactory performance as Blacky. Ginger Rogers, who dances so nicely in Flying Down to Rio, assumes here the role of Marje, and she acts the part better than it deserves" - The New York Times
From GINGER: My Story: ...well, Ginger had nothing to say about this one, either... maybe for the best, as I think she probably didn't dig this role too much...
--- Marian Nixon replaced Dorothy Wilson in the role of Glory Franklyn.
--- It is somewhat 'vague' in the plot, but generally insinuated that Nixon's character, Glory, had an abortion; this was not as unheard of as one would assume for the early Thirties, as it was reported that Depression-era families that couldn't care for additional children sought abortions, although the practice was illegal in the U.S. at the time.
--- Ginger and McCrea would meet up again in 1940 to make Primrose Path, a much more interesting film than this one.
GingerFilm Ranking: #14 of 21...Ginger is pretty prevalent in this film, and cute as all-get-out, as usual...but her role, while VERY sweet, kind, and just overall incredible, is ultimately not believable; and the fact that dude abandons her for another (although Glory is pretty cute, Marje is...well, GINGER, by gum!!!) REALLY diminishes the rank here. Just above 'Broadway Bad', even though Ginger's role in BB was Uber-sassy, it was in a very supporting role...
After Twenty Reviews:
#01 - Professional Sweetheart
#02 - 42nd Street
#03 - Flying Down to Rio
#04 - Sitting Pretty
#05 - The Tenderfoot
#06 - The Tip-Off
#07 - Queen High
#08 - Young Man of Manhattan
#09 - You Said A Mouthful
#10 - Carnival Boat
#11 - A Shriek in the Night
#12 - The Thirteenth Guest
#13 - Don't Bet On Love
#14 - Chance at Heaven
#15 - Broadway Bad
#16 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#17 - The Sap From Syracuse
#18 - Suicide Fleet
#19 - Follow The Leader
#20 - Honor Among Lovers
#21 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Rafter Romance... This one is really one of my FAVE 'pre-GandF' (well, excluding 'Rio', of course) Ginger movies (as well as some of y'all's...) Ginger is featured throughout this one, and is VERY sassy in parts, and so it should fare quite well...
Until then, as always...