A Dash of Ginger
Ginger Rogers was the busiest star in Hollywood — and by the '40s, she was one of the highest paid
Rogers’ cinematic range, best sampled in these five films, proves she was much more than Astaire’s partner in time.
TOP HAT (1935, unrated, Turner) This is the high point of Rogers’ heyday with Astaire, set in an Art Deco Venice. Rogers makes jodhpurs sexy with ”Isn’t This a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain)?” then slinks, wafts, and spins in a fantasia of ostrich feathers while dancing ”Cheek to Cheek.” A+
SHALL WE DANCE (1937, unrated, Turner) Rogersian glee reigns supreme in this Gershwin-scored piece of romantic gorgeousness. Since Fred can’t have the woman he loves, he faces the music in the ”Shall We Dance” finale with models holding up masks of her — an infinite sea of Gingers. A
STAGE DOOR (1937, unrated, Turner) ”I’ll bet you could boil a terrific pan of water,” Rogers tells posh roomie Katharine Hepburn in a Broadway boardinghouse for aspiring actresses. Here, a wisecracking Ginger did the most justice to her name. A-
THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942, unrated, not on video) In this broad Billy Wilder comedy, a game Rogers, low on cash and heading home to Iowa, dresses up as a 12-year-old to save money on train fare. Ray Milland ”rescues” her and takes her to his military school, where she swats away the advances of eager adolescents. A-
KITTY FOYLE (1940, unrated, Turner) Ginger got serious with this tearjerker and got an Oscar. Her performance as a white-collar worker put through life’s wringer is a must-see to get the full picture of Rogers’ range. B+