Watching 1939: Bachelor Mother (1939)

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:  Bachelor Mother (1939)

Release date:  June 30, 1939

Cast:  Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson, E.E. Clive, Ferike Boros, Elbert Coplen Jr., Dennie Moore, June Wilkins

Studio:  RKO Radio Pictures

Director:  Garson Kanin

Plot: Department store work Polly Parish (Rogers) is returning home one day when she finds a baby left on a doorstep. She catches him before he roles off and takes him to a nearby orphanage. No one will believe Polly that it’s not her baby and is forced to take responsibility for the baby. The department store owner’s playboy son, David Merlin (Niven) takes an interest in Polly, and David’s father (Coburn) believes the baby is his grandson.

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Ginger Rogers’s Christmas Cake

Over the summer, I was surfing eBay for film memorabilia and came across a recipe for Ginger Rogers’s Christmas cake in a small food magazine, A & P Menu, which is “dedicated to food, menus and recipes.” I bought the Dec. 17, 1936, menu so I could attempt to make this cake myself.

Note: The cover reads “Ginger Rogers, RKO Radio Pictures star soon to appear in “Stepping on Toes,” believes in bigger and better cakes.” “Stepping on Toes” was the working title for “Shall We Dance” (1937), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

In addition to the cake recipe, the rest of this issue of A&P Menu gives cookie recipes and gives suggestions on easy, inexpensive meals for your family leading up to Christmas.

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Musical Monday: The Gay Divorcee (1934)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

divorceThis week’s musical:
The Gay Divorcee” (1934)– Musical #121

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Mark Sandrich

Starring:
Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes, William Austin, Betty Grable, Lillian Miles

Plot:
Mimi (Rogers) is traveling with her Aunt Hortense (Brady) and is looking for a

Trivia:
-This was Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ second film together (out of 10 films). Following their success in “Flying Down to Rio” (1933), RKO teamed them together again.

-“The Continental” lasts 17.5 minutes. This was the longest musical number until Gene Kelly’s ballet in “An American In Paris” (1951).

-The Academy Awards for 1934 were the first to include the category for Best Original Song. Con Conrad and Herb Magidson were the first to receive this award for “The Continental.”

-Based on the 1932 Broadway show “The Gay Divorce,” which starred Fred Astaire and Claire Luce. For the film, the title was changed to “Divorcee.” Fred Astaire’s autobiography “Steps in Time” says the change was to show that the film was about the amorous adventures of a woman.

-Costumes designed by Walter Plunkett

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Musical Monday: “Follow the Fleet” (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

follow the fleet 2This week’s musical:
Follow the Fleet” (1936) — Musical #155

Studio:
RKO

Director:
Mark Sandrich

Starring:
Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harriet Hilliard, Betty Grable, Lucille Ball

Plot:
Bake Baker (Astaire) joined the Navy after his former dance partner Sherry Martin (Rogers) turned him down when he asked her to marry him.
Now he’s back on shore leave and he meets her by chance at a 10 cents a dance joint.
Sherry’s bookish sister Connie (Hilliard) meets Bake’s sea mate Bilge Smith (Scott) and falls in love with him. But Bilge isn’t read to settle down and starts running around with a rich divorcee.

follow the fleet

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dance to “Let Yourself Go”

Trivia:
-This movie was made after the success of “Roberta.” RKO wanted to bring Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne back together again for another film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as the secondary leads, according to TCM host Robert Osborne. Dunne’s contract expired with RKO and she went on to star in “Showboat” (1936). New comer Harriet Hilliard was selected to fill the Irene Dunne role, Osborne said.
-The beaded dress Ginger Rogers wears in “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” was very heavy. Fred Astaire said the dress was too heavy to be made for dancing. During the first take, a long sleeve hit Astaire in the face. After 20 more takes, Astaire felt like the first take was their best, said Robert Osborne.
-Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ fifth film together.
-The couple in the dance contest with Astaire and Rogers were unknowns picked by choreographer Hermes Pan.
-Lucille Ball and Betty Grable have small roles in the film.
-Actor/singer Tony Martin has an uncredited role in the film.
-Irving Berlin wrote “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan” was originally written for “Top Hat.”
-Adapted from the play “Shore Leave.”

Highlights:
-Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in the dance contest. They do impressive dance steps and Rogers is wearing pants so you can actually see the dance moves she’s doing.

Notable Songs:
All the songs are quality because the score is written by Irving Berlin but my favorites are:
-“Let Yourself Go” sung by Ginger Rogers
-“I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
-“Let’s Face the Music and Dance” sung by Fred Astaire

Harriet Hilliard and Randolph Scott in "Follow the Fleet"

Harriet Hilliard and Randolph Scott in “Follow the Fleet”

My Review:
While this was following the success of “Roberta,” it isn’t quite as good as “Roberta.” Harriet Hilliard is fine, but I would have loved to see Irene Dunne in the role.
The music in this Astaire and Rogers film is terrific since the score is written by Irving Berlin. It is also a real treat that all but one of Rogers’ dance performances are done in pants so you can see her footwork better than when she is wearing a ballgown.
The plot isn’t bad but some of the lines said in the film could be bothersome to the contemporary viewer. Such as Ginger Rogers saying you have to be dumb to get a man. Or that Harriet salvages a boat for a man she doesn’t even know.
Regardless of my issues with silly parts of the plot, if you are a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers fan, this is definitely a movie you should see. 

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Beauty Tip #27: The 1940s Snood

This is the twenty-seventh  installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.  

For me, the 1940s is the best fashion era.

Carole Lombard sporting a snood.

Carole Lombard sporting a snood.

The clothing, the makeup and the hairstyles all leave me drooling. One of my favorite 1940s fashion styles that I see in the movies is the “snood.”

A snood is head scarf, usually netted in the 1940s, that fits almost like a hood. Hair is fitted inside a sort of a sack that sits on the back of the head.

Snoods were worn in the Middle Ages, 1860s and were again reintroduced during World War II, not only for fashion but to keep hair from getting caught in machinery while doing war work.

The first time I wore my snood.

The first time I wore my snood.

As my hair has been getting longer, I was trying to figure out different ways to style it and keep it out of my face, so I decided to bring my classic film tastes and love for 1940s fashion into my life and bought a snood.

While some snoods tie, mine is elastic.

To wear it, I brushed my hair back away from my face, pinned it in place behind my ears with two bobby pins on each side, and put my hair inside the snood. I set the snood about half way back on my head.

While I was worried about looking like a lunch lady with a hair net, I’ve gotten several compliments on the snood and only a few from friends, jokingly saying I look like a sheep herder.

To review: I love wearing my snood and it successfully keeps my hair out of my face while giving me both a modern, yet vintage look. The one I bought was only $5 on ebay, but I plan to buy more decorative snoods in the future.

Here are some other classic actresses sporting the snood look:

Barbara Stanwyck with Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve" (1941) wearing a snood.

Barbara Stanwyck with Henry Fonda in “The Lady Eve” (1941) wearing a snood.

Ginger Rogers in "The Major and the Minor" with a snood.

Ginger Rogers in “The Major and the Minor” with a snood.

Ann Sheridan in "Thank Your Lucky Stars" (1943) with a snood

Ann Sheridan in “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943) with a snood

Stop by back in January for another classic actress beauty tip.

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“Radio Waves” on air in 30 minutes!

Ginger will be listening too

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website.

Call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

Also, if you listen to the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show, leave feedback for me in the comments area. Let me know what I need to work on or what you want to hear!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.

Tune in for your weekly fireside

Don Ameche, Ginger Rogers, Cecil B. DeMille and Charles Winneger performing on the Lux Radio Theater

“Radio  Waves Over Hollywood” will be streaming live Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m (Eastern time).

Topics for Jan. 27:
-Film actors who made it big on TV
-Kay Kyser, Georgia Carroll and other big bands
-Actors who got married
-And more…

So be sure to listen at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  live stream on www.winrfm.com (go to Listen Live) or  the old WINR website.

Call in at 803-323-2122, whether you know me or not, to contribute to the discussion.  I would love to hear from you!

And remember, non-Winthrop students can listen and call in too!

Also, if you listen to the “Radio Waves Over Hollywood” show, leave feedback for me in the comments area. Let me know what I need to work on or what you want to hear!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page and Radio Waves Over Hollywood Facebook page.