The name Ginger Rogers strikes up a lot of feelings in a lot of classic movie lovers, myself included. For most, they think of the string of films she made with Fred Astaire, and how beloved a movie pairing the two were as they danced and fell in love over and over… For me, I remember them dancing of course, but that was about it; I’ve made no secret that the pairing of Astaire/Rogers didn’t have quite the magic feel to me that it did for a large chunk of moviegoers, past and present. 1937’s Stage Door did a little bit to improve the standing of Rogers in my head, but aside from a supporting turn in that film, I didn’t have any real experience with Rogers as a solo act. Now, there’s Kitty Foyle, which not only clearly starred Rogers, but had her front and center for virtually the entire film. Now, having seen it, I appreciate Rogers a lot more than I used to; I don’t know if I can say I’m a fan of her proper now, but there’s a lot more to her than just being the prime piece of arm candy that Fred Astaire toted around.
Rogers is the titular Kitty Foyle, a young to-do girl from Philadelphia looking to make her way in the world with the typical stars in her eyes while she does so. In this case, those stars happen to eventually land on Wyn Strafford, a well-off inheritor who just as quickly falls for Kitty as she does him. Only problem is that she, as they put it, lives on the wrong street from Wyn, meaning that Wyn would be marrying below his social status if he were to take Kitty as his bride, and the will-they-or-won’t-they of Wyn and Kitty is complicated further when she moves to New York and ends up roped into a date or two with Mark, a doctor and another would-be groom. As much as it would seem to lower the state of Kitty Foyle the film by saying there’s really not much more to it than the love triangle at its center, there really isn’t; that and the characterization of Kitty by Ginger Rogers are really the only two reasons to watch this, and seeing as how this was made after the Hays Code, there’s very little suspense as to how the love triangle will turn out, especially given some of the other aspects and turns of the plot I haven’t outlined. So, that leaves us with Rogers, who actually does quite a good job in making Kitty headstrong and willful, while still keeping her eyes filled with stars, so to speak. Besides Rogers, director Sam Wood got an Oscar nomination for Best Director for this film, and I can imagine he wrangled that nom for how he staged the recurring framing device of the film, which worked well enough even if it was a tad relentless with how recurring it was. Still, it seemed like Wood hadn’t really done enough to see his nomination through to a win, which he didn’t, and I agree with the Academy in this particular case.
Rogers ended up winning the Oscar for Best Actress for this film, and while I’m not ranking the acting nominations as of yet, I can see why they went with her (though I can’t say for certain until I’ve seen the other nominees for this year; Bette Davis is in this particular race, after all); she does a good enough job, and pretty much handles the entire film by herself, so the Academy felt it fitting to gift her some gold for it, and I won’t hang them up too high for doing so. This was also, however, nominated for Best Picture, and while I enjoyed the film even despite it having so few real selling points, I can’t really say that this Best Picture nomination came about for any reason other than the Academy couldn’t seem to find enough nominees to fill out the roster. Kitty Foyle works, largely because of Rogers, but it doesn’t do enough to be called the best picture of its year, though I will say that even despite my not getting to the film for a little while, I got through the viewing of it with very little problem or apprehension once I started it, so there’s a bit of a good note to end this on.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10