In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.
1939 film: Sweepstakes Winner (1939)
Release date: May 20, 1939
Marie Wilson, Johnnie Davis, Allen Jenkins, Charley Foy, Jerry Colonna, Granville Bates, Vera Lewis, Frankie Burke, Sam McDaniel
Studio: Warner Brothers
Director: William C. McGann
Jennie (Wilson) gets a $1,000 inheritance from her grandfather and is convinced to give it to bookies Tip (Jenkins) and Jinx (Foy) to bet on a horse. She wants to buy a horse named Firefly with the winnings, but Tip and Jinx lose her money. Broke, Jennie gets a job as a waitress but Jinx and Tip convince her to buy an Irish Sweepstakes ticket and she wins.
Ginger Rogers was the Star of the Month for March on Turner Classic Movies. Ginger Rogers is a triple threat. She can sing, act and dance. She even won an Oscar for her 1941 performance in “Kitty Foyle.”
I taped several of her films that I haven’t seen (I’m trying to see all of her movies). One of these movies that I taped was “20 Million Sweethearts” (1934). The movie features Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell with a supporting cast of Allen Jenkins and Pat O’Brien.
Ginger Rogers is best known for the 10 films that she made with Fred Astaire. The screen team is recognized for their singing and dancing, but Astaire is generally the only one who gets to sing. Rogers only had the chance to sing solo in two of their 10 films together. These rare times occurred when Astaire refused to sing a song that was originally written for him. An example of this is “The Yam” in “Carefree” (1938).
The treat about the movie “Twenty-Million Sweethearts” is we actually heard Ginger sing several songs. I find it ironic that Ginger Rogers had the chance to sing more in a movie with Dick Powell than she does in her movies with Fred Astaire.
Dick Powell was one of the top “crooners” in the 1930s. His smooth voice could make women melt like butter. Fred Astaire was known more for his dancing. I’m sure women wouldn’t mind if he sang to them, but I have a feeling they would rather it be in their ear as he whisked them around on a dance floor.
Here is a comparison of the two men’s singing qualities:
Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers in “Twenty Million Sweethearts.” (1934)
Fred Astaire singing “The Way You Look Tonight” to Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time” (1936)
I personally would rather have Powell sing to me over Astaire. Who do you prefer?
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