Saturday, April 3, 2010
Short Cuts 2
Professional Sweetheart. 1933. Directed by William A. Seiter.
RKO Radio Pictures.
Two rival groups vie for the radio services of Ginger Rogers (as Glory Eden), who is dissatisfied with her image as the “Purity Girl.” With regularity she expresses a desire for the sinful high life, the greatest manifestation of which is going to Harlem. (I assume many of you have seen The Cotton Club.)
Shenanigans occur, a romance is introduced, and Glory Eden falls in love with a boring, but well meaning fellow. At film’s end, the rival factions settle their differences; combine like good capitalists, and produce a washrag or something. The “Purity Girl” promotes it and 73 minutes have passed. I do not think Glory ever got to Harlem, but there were moments when Ginger Rogers moved into Harlow country -- and she crossed that border well.
You know a film is in trouble when you start assessing the diversity of wipes. I thought I saw a propeller wipe about halfway in. When tired of the wipes, I began counting which of the fine (male) character actors were wearing hats indoors (a commonplace practice in my time).
Finally, the frequent references to Harlem brought on a reverie. I was a Bronx native and, in my teens and early twenties, spent some time with friends in East Harlem. This was not Cotton Club Harlem; this was not where Glory Eden sought to go. This was just another of those New York areas, a collection of neighborhoods, small towns within a big city. Then, as now, Harlem was many things to many people.
Pick of the litter: Ginger Rogers, of course.
Harlem Cityscape 1939 by Mark Baum.