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.


  1. would love to hear more about your time in bronx and harlem! this is one of those movies where my attention dwindled rapidly, good for you for trying to find ways to make it more interesting. ;)

  2. Thank you Meredith. I thought the Rogers contingent would provide ample coverage of her landmark films. So I focused on those I had not seen. I prefer writing reflections rather than reviews for these allow straying from cinematic paths into other regions. I will also seek another venue for remembrances of the Bronx and Harlem. (And recalling one of our earlier exchanges on ocean liners, I hope to do related postings on April 14 and 15.) Best.


  3. ...Great review, Gerald! Nice to take 'rabbit trails' and expound on the aspect of Harlem, and what it was at that's neat to think about certain places referenced in movies, and wonder if they are still there, and what it was like 'back in the day'...
    As for the movie, it is 'cute', but Ginger really is a bit 'extraverted' in this one... she typically has 'sassy' moments in most of her roles, but maybe a bit much in this one... overall, it is a fair vehicle for her, although they did 'voiceovers' for her songs, which is a big 'downside' to this one... I love Ginger's singing...the best singer ever? of course not... but her voice is just ...well, I AM a Gingerologist... :-)

    Safe travels!


  4. Thank you VKMfan. Interesting and enlightening. Ginger did sassy well; she seemed so comfortable in that garb. As did Aline. I had a few aunts in the Bronx who owned sassy—they were the ones I liked best. Ginger always fit into whatever period she lived and worked in.

    And I, too, very much like Ginger’s singing voice (as I do Ann Miller’s). Many of us have heard the horror stories of voiceovers, sometimes in the most ludicrous of situations. I suspect someone has written a book on the subject or at least a good long piece. On reflection, the subject might make for a good posting, or even a poll. Its title could be “I Lost My Voice.”

    Best. Gerald