Kitty Foyle Reviews
However, the film does have its faults. The acting is "below-par", with Kitty's Irish-stereotype father, Tom, and Wyn, the Philadelphia magazine owner with a Midwestern accent. What the film preaches is that the women should know their place, even if they are "free, white and 21," as the film puts it. They cannot know true love (women's idiocy) and they NEED a man to lead them.
Classist, sexist, and bigoted. Sure it is a product of its time, but Judas Priest, how outdated!
Ginger Rogers was actually a relatively talented actress. Don't get me wrong. It's true that most of what we know her from is light comedies, mostly ones where she's dancing with Fred Astaire. But the point is, she's good in those light comedies, and she danced very well with Fred Astaire. And when her character is called upon to do a little emoting, well, she's not bad at that, either. The problem, though, is that the role here is so ludicrous that it would take a much better actress than she was in order to make the character a living, breathing one instead of a paper doll. And Ginger Rogers wasn't that good. This is why her Oscar is on the list of Academy mistakes--if they were going to give the award to someone playing an insipid character to whom life just happens, they ought to have given it to Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. de Winter. Which they shouldn't have, because Katharine Hepburn was up for [i]The Philadelphia Story[/i].
Rogers plays Kitty Foyle, the daughter of a drunken old railway worker (Ernest Cossart), I think. He sends her to secretarial school, because his girl is By God Going to Make Something of Herself. And in fact, she ends up getting a job working for Wynnewood "Wyn" Strafford VI (Dennis Morgan), who with a name like that can be nothing other than the scion of a wealthy family. He takes some of the family cash and starts up a magazine, and he hires Kitty as his secretary. And, naturally, they fall in love. But he is, after all, wealthy. And she is, after all, not. And they would never be able to be happy together, especially given that the Strafford money is all tied up in trusts, so he has to live in Philadelphia and work in the family bank or else make his own way in the wide world. Which she knows he isn't able to do. Also in love with her is Dr. Mark Eisen (James Craig), who is poor but independent.
I've not, of course, read the book. But Ginger Rogers did, and it was almost enough to get her to refuse to be in the movie, which kind of makes me wonder. The implication I'm getting is that Kitty and Wyn did not get married and then have the marriage annulled. And there was no stillbirth. But of course when Ginger Rogers expressed hesitation, her mother pointed out that the stuff she was worried about couldn't possibly make it past the Code. It's a shame, too, because that might have given the character of Kitty a little more depth. I'm not sure much could have been done for Wyn, but a little honest sinfulness would have deepened Kitty. Here, she's so wholesome that I don't see her as being capable of making any decision but the one she does--the beginning of the movie sees her having to choose between Wyn, who would be leaving his wife (Kay Linaker), and Mark, who would come to her unencumbered and unashamed by anything in his past. Even leaving aside the Code, this Kitty could only make one choice.
Which makes it all the funnier that the dress Ginger Rogers most famously wears in the movie has since become one of the possible styles to wear for Goth Loli fashion. The "Kitty Foyle" dress is the kind Wednesday Addams wears, or at least close enough. It's a very simple cut, and the dress is dark with light cuffs and collar. It's the kind Ginger is wearing in the lower left corner of the poster. It seems one of the reasons it became as fashionable as it did in the years immediately following release of the picture is that it was a cheap, easy way of revamping a dress you already owned. Instead of buying a whole new dress, just buy enough to make the contrasting bits. And it looked fine on Ginger Rogers; apparently, it was designed in no small part so that the white collar would throw light on her face. It may also be a bit of a play on the idea that Kitty is a white collar worker; in men, it's the distinction between "blue collar," or work shirt, and "white collar," or dress shirt. But a woman can be dressy in blue, after all.
Yes, I'm rambling a bit. But there really isn't much to say about this movie. To be perfectly honest, I watched it about a week ago and am just getting around to writing the review now. (I was out most of the day and haven't watched anything, but I don't want to take anything out of my backlog.) I'd always meant to watch it, because I was extremely curious as to exactly what kind of movie Ginger Rogers made which won her an Oscar. After all, Fred Astaire only got the honorary. But since I don't have anything to say, particularly, I can also mention the fact that Fred was nominated, just once, for a competitive Oscar. It was 1974, and he lost to Robert De Niro in [i]The Godfather Part II[/i], which is pretty impressive for De Niro, given that he was one of three people from that movie up in that category. Now, Fred wasn't as good an actor as Ginger, much less Robert De Niro. But he goes down in Academy history as having his only competitive nomination as being for [i]The Towering Inferno[/i], which must be embarrassing for all concerned.
Kitty is dating a simple working class doctor. Then an old boyfriend who she thought was gone from her life for good finds her again. They both ask her to meet them later to run off and start a new life together. She begins packing and finds a snow globe. Kitty's conscience talks back to her from the hotel dresser mirror and encourages her to think carefully through her past in order to chose the right guy. Through the snow globe we see a teenage Kitty fascinated by the Chicago social elite. When she returns home (the snow globe belongs to her father), her pop tries to tell her about her proud Irish working class roots and how the aristocratic class would never accept her. Kitty's pop (Ernest Cossart) is a witty rascal who has a lot of great lines. We see Kitty grow up and fall for Wyn Strafford one of the Chicago social elite who is trying to run his own magazine until the capitol that his family provided runs out. Her relationship with Wynn is complicated and she heads to New York on her own. There, while working as a perfume sales girl, she reluctantly meets the doctor Mark. Ginger Rogers shines without singing or dancing. The script, which flashes back and skips through time, seems very mature and a bit ahead of its time. Plus there are many genuine laughs. Kitty is quite a modern woman and the ending is satisfying. If the play I worked on is to be believed, even though she was not credited in the role, Ginger had quite a bit of artistic control over this movie and she made sure the story and the characters were believable.
Rogers is mostly the whole show here as we are brought back to her late childhood where she is working during the depression to support her and her alcoholic father. When we learn about the men who stood by her side and helped her with all the tasks she was responsible for survival, it is easy to see how she developed romance flings with them. However, now she is considered a grown woman and thinks she is bound to marry a man who once was her significant other but has come back after a long time to reclaim her. Her heart says yes, but something tells her another man who has come along in the meantime would do her better.
As a whole, this film is enjoyable and has great performances by the whole cast, and Rogers even won an Oscar for her leading role as Kitty. Her two roommates provide many decent laughs and a scene where she plays a hopeful department store clerk is one of the biggest highlights. Like most movies of this genre, there is some sadness along the way, especially towards the end where she meets a young boy who reminds her of her son who she lost at his birth (could this be more than just a coincidence?). Loving story and great use of technology for its time, too. A great addition for the library of any fan of old black and white movies.