WHAT’S A NICE GIRL LIKE GINGER DOING IN A SCRIPT LIKE THIS?

The Groom Wore Spurs
Richard Whorf
1951

Ginger Rogers plays a successful lawyer but a nice woman, victimized by Jack Carson as a heel of a client.  Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?  Carson the likeable dude and Rogers the tough cookie?  (Seen The Tenderfoot with Rogers and Joe E. Brown?)  But  however it should have been or might have been, what’s here doesn’t work.

Ginger is not even in a comedy.  Jack Carson at least appears to know that this is going to be billed as one.  But his sly plans  —   to marry his lawyer to get out of dangerous debt  —  and his drunkenness and his hangover are all so over the top as to be embarrassing.

Carson was a likeable actor with plenty of skill.  His studio typed him  —    with how much of his own cooperation?  —  to a point that his work became less and less interesting; though he could always be good, even later than here, in the right role.  But the roles eventually became always the same.

In the best Hollywood comedies every character in the script is somehow funny.  If the heroine goes into a dress shop, the saleswoman is funny.  If the hero takes a cab, of course the cabbie is funny.  In The Groom Wore Spurs as written by Robert Libott and Frank Burt and directed by the usually competent Richard Whorf, there are no amusing secondary roles to help with the fact that the major ones are barely comical.  There are brief scenes with Joan Davis whose specialty pratfalls fall flat here.  Her other specialty, self-contempt, may jar the contemporary viewer.  The other supposedly funny character is an Oriental houseboy.  In those days someone was still thought amusing because he had an accent.

Ginger Rogers is entirely consistent, but she isn’t funny.  Jack Carson is entirely consistent, but he is so unlikeable as to leave us wondering why the Rogers character is so interested in him.  Ginger Rogers was one of the brightest AND one of the most talented stars in the Hollywood sky.  Why she chose this film is an even greater mystery.  She does look superb in a stunning wardrobe.  Even her milliner gets a credit.  And she shows that fabulous waist which she kept into her gorgeous early seventies.

NEXT POST Friday May 10.

See you at the movies,
Rick

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