Vivacious Lady (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

Vivacious Lady (1938)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

James Stewart and Ginger Rogers were "an item" when Vivacious Lady was filmed, and their obvious real-life affection for one another pours over onto the screen. Stewart plays Peter Morgan, a young botany professor who while on a visit to New York impulsively marries free-spirited nightclub singer Francey (Rogers). A few obstacles lie in the path of connubial bliss, however, including Peter's bitchy ex-fiancee Helen (Frances Mercer) and his stern college-dean father Peter Morgan Sr. (Charles Coburn). Hoping to break the news of his marriage gently to Helen and his father, Pete contrives to keep the union a secret, with the expected embarrassing results. Before the final fade-out, both Morgan Senior and Morgan Junior are on the outs with their respective wives, and it takes an uproariously tearful reunion on a passenger train to straighten things out. In his first outing as a producer, director George Stevens shows off his two-reel-comedy training with a number of hilarious comedy setpieces (the best is a slapsticky cat-fight between the two rivals for Pete's affections), though things tend to slow down towards the end. Stevens also finds room for several of his favorite character actors, including Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn and Willie Best, to do their time-honored specialties. Best of all is Beulah Bondi as James Stewart's mother (one of several such assignments), delivering a most unusual and touchingly funny performance. In short, Vivacious Lady was a guaranteed box-office smash even before the cameras began to turn.


Ginger Rogers
as Francey Brent
James Stewart
as Peter Morgan
James Ellison
as Keith Beston
Charles Coburn
as Dr. Morgan
Beulah Bondi
as Mrs. Morgan
Franklin Pangborn
as Apartment Manager
Grady Sutton
as Culpepper
Alec Craig
as Joseph the Chauffeur
Jack Carson
as Waiter Captain
Dorothy Moore
as Hat Check Girl
Maurice Black
as Headwaiter
Frank M. Thomas
as Train Conductor
Spencer Charters
as Husband on Train
Maude Eburne
as Wife on Train
Jane Eberling
as Girl on Bus
Ray Mayer
as Man on Train
George Chandler
as Man on Train
Bobby Barber
as Italian
June Johnson
as Miss Barton
Marvin Jones Darrin Smith
as Young Man on Bus
Ed Mortimer
as Publisher
Lloyd Ingraham
as Noble the Professor
Tom Quinn
as Maitre d'
Kay Sutton
as Woman Exiting Train
Helena Grant
as Mrs. Wickett
Katharine Ellis
as uncredited
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Vivacious Lady

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (3)

Vivacious Lady is entertainment of the highest order and broadest appeal.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Top Critic

Rogers is the accomplished centrepiece of the film, slightly atypical as the soft-focus romantic heroine, but with welcome eruptions of her tough and shrewd persona throughout.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Vintage George Stevens comedy, dating from the brief period in which his deliberate style was a deepening virtue, stopping short of the ossification that cursed his later work.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A charming, fast-moving comedy.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
TV Guide

Lighthearted screwball comedy that serves its two stars, Ginger Rogers and James Stewart, very well.

Full Review… | March 13, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Vivacious Lady

Really liked this movie. Ginger Rogers keeps moving up as one of my favorite classic actresses, just so beautiful and sexy. And she's a great comedic actress, again in top form with Vivacious Lady. Stewart, another favorite of mine, does very good work as well. This movie should be seen more, I think it just falls short of the upper tier of Stewart and Rogers' careers, but it is still pretty great. For being a movie of its time, it's pretty funny that half of the movie is spent with them either talking or looking how and where they can get laid. It's what they can't say because of the times that makes it work so well, I think.

Matt Heiser
Matt Heiser

Charming but kind of dated romantic comedy, with Jimmy Stewart as a spineless botany professor who tries to break his whirlwind marriage of a nightclub singer (Rogers) to his family. Apparently, the leads were an item when this film was made, and they do make convincing doe-eyes at one another. Rogers, too, is good in many of the comedy scenes. For me, Stewart's entire fumbling persona has always been grating, so I might've liked 'Vivacious Lady' a bit more if he wasn't in it.

Daryl Kuxhouse
Daryl Kuxhouse

I have troubles rating old movies very highly. I guess it is a product of their times, but the stories are quite simplistic. All the fuss because the younger Morgan can't come out and tell his parents that he is married.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

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