Monday, May 28, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #25 - Upper World
Run Time (approximate): 73 Minutes
Directed by: Roy Del Ruth.
Assistant Director (Second Unit): Lee Katz.
Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner.
Story: Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Eugene Walter.
Cinematography by: Tony Gaudio.
Screenplay: Ben Markson.
Art Direction: Anton Grot.
Editor: Owen Marks.
Production Manager: Robert Lord.
Makeup Department: Perc Westmore.
Sound: Gordon M. Davis.
Composer: Bernhard Kaun.
Conductor: Leo F. Forbstein.
Costume Jeweller: Eugene Joseff.
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly.
Also Starring: William Warren (as Alexander 'Alex' Stream), Mary Astor (as Mrs. Hettie Stream), Andy Devine (as Oscar, the chauffeur), Dickie Moore (as Tommy Stream), Ferdinand Gottschalk (as Marcus), J. Carrol Naish (as Lou Colima), Sidney Toler (as Officer Moran), Henry O'Neill (as Banker making toast at banquet), Theodore Newton (as Reporter Rocklen), Robert Barrat (as Police Commissioner Clark), Robert Greig (as Marc Caldwell, the butler), Frank Sheridan (as Police Inspector Kellogg), John Qualen (as Chris, the janitor), Willard Robertson (as Police Captain Reynolds).
UNCREDITED CAST: Marie Astaire (as Chorus Girl), Nora Cecil (as Stream's Housekeeper), Jack Cheatham (as Detective), Clay Clement (as Medical Examiner), Lucille Collins (as Chorus Girl), Frank Conroy (as Paul - Alex's Attorney), Douglas Cosgrove (as Detective Johnson), William B. Davidson (as City Editor), Sidney De Gray (as Jury Foreman), Lester Dorr (as Steward), James Durkin (as Detective), Jay Eaton (as Jewelry Salesman), Bill Elliott (as Photographer), Howard C. Hickman (as Judge), Armand Kaliz (as Maurice), Milton Kibbee (as Pilot), Wilfred Lucas (as Boat Captain), Tom McGuire (as Bailiff), Bert Moorhouse (as Court Clerk), Edmund Mortimer (as Banquet Guest), Jack Mower (as Reporter with Rocklen), Dennis O'Keefe (as Photographer), Joyce Owen (as Chorus Girl), Lee Phelps (as Reporter), Bob Reeves (as Courtroom Police Officer), Cliff Saum (as Sailor), Harry Seymour (as Passerby talking to Officer Moran), Edwin Stanley (as Joe, the fingerprint expert), Guy Usher (as Police Captain Carter), Monte Vandergrift (as Detective), Duke York (as Marine in burlesque theatre).
SCENES DELETED CAST: James P. Burtis (as Cop (scene deleted)), John Elliot (as Crandall (scene deleted)), William Jeffrey (as Bradley (scene deleted)), Edward LeSaint (as Henshaw (scene deleted)), Henry Otho (as Cop (scene deleted)), Mickey Rooney (as Jerry (scene deleted)).
Ginger's Character: Lily Linda.(or Lilly, depending on which part of the film you are watching...)
Approximately 13 Minutes and 15 Seconds (18.1% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Shake Your Powder Puff', "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?".
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 8.0 - Ginger is a very sweet Lily Linda in this movie...a bit sassy, but in a 'small talk' way - the only 'issue' her character has is, of course, she is 'fooling around' with a married man, no matter how 'civil' it is presented. The only place she gets her dander up is when her thug boyfriend/manager/whatever is strong-arming her to put the frame on Stream and begin blackmail procedures. As a result, the thug dude is really the only unlikable character of the bunch...and the absolute antithesis of Ginger's character.
Film Quality (1-10): 7.0 - On WB Archive DVD...fair copy, but spots are just not cleaned up much at ALL...I kinda thought they restored these archive films a bit more...still a fair copy, not enough to affect the view.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: ***WARNING SPOILER ALERT*** ***WARNING DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOMICILES*** ***WARNING READING THIS MAY LEAD TO HYPER-EXTENSION OF YOUR CORNEAS*** ***WARNING WARNING WARNING***
......OK, that should take care of that...so, if ya don't wanna know how the story goes, watch it prior to reading this dissertation...
This movie finds Ginger in another 'romantic triangle' situation, but unlike her last role in Change of Heart, her character, the very awesome and bodacious burlesque dancer/singer Miss Lily Linda, isn't 'Out for No Good'...it all just kinda falls in her lap.
We are introduced to Alex Stream, the mega-industrialist-man-wrapped-in-money, and his somewhat dysfunctional family; his wife, Hettie (Mary Astor), and her young son, Tommy (Dickey Moore). Hettie is too busy preoccupying herself with dinners, costume balls, and weekend group excursions to really know anything about what's cooking with Big Al... so, we'll see what transpires with THAT situation soon... as for little Tommy, well, he's a little...er...'headstrong', shall we say (as most kids are in films of the 30's - or any other decade, for that matter...), but Alex seems to take an interest in him in the few moments of free time he has during the day, so that at least establishes Al as a 'good dad', thus a 'good guy'...awwwww.
Meanwhile, Hettie and Al are just not really hanging out much at all, which leaves the door open for other 'parties' to walk in... and, while Al isn't openly pursuing any type of extracurricular-isms, sometimes these deals just...fall out of sky. Or, in this case, get yanked right out of the drink, as Al and his yacht dudes did in rescuing Miss Lily from open waters whilst cruising the shoreline.
Al takes Lily to her brownstone to drop off...but, instead, Lily, who has his clothes on (you know, she was in the water and all, and he, in an act of chivalry, gave her his pea-coat and an extra suit to don to prevent her from catching a chill...hey I would have done the same thing, y'all...) asks him to come upstairs with her and she can return the garb...
And, it turns into a lunch date...then they do a wild little dance routine with the wearing of strange headgear and pronounced snouts... ...no, REALLY.
Well, of course, Mr. Stream is totally hooked with this snout-wearing ritual Lily has bestowed upon him, and it just happens that Hettie is rolling out to Poughkeepskie or somewhere with her bridge-gin-rummy-bunko club...or something...probably just a wild party unto itself, which...now that I think about it, Hettie DID jump in the car with at least a couple of dudes when she scuttled off...hmmm.
Anyway, the Het-ster is out of the picture for a few weeks, so... here we go. Al and his faithful sidekick chauffeur, Oscar (Andy Devine), are out cruising the town, when they stumble upon a burlesque hall...wait a minute, didn't that Lily chick...yep, y'all are all over this one...
So, Al meets Lily backstage, and this catches the eye of Lily's boss/manager/boyfriend-ish/slimeball, Lou Colima (J. Carroll Naish), who knows Big Al has $$$...and appears to be interested in Lily. Well, of course, Lou sees a frame potential a mile away, so he encourages Lily to advance the affair.
Well, things reach the point between Al and Lily to where Lou is ready to pull the trigger on the frame-up. When Al drops in to see Lily, Lou has gotten the letters she had from Al as 'evidence'... Lou confronts Al about it...etc. - y'all know how all that works... hey, everyone takes part in good old-fashioned frame-up once in awhile, right? Well, Lily denies her involvement with it, Al accosts Lou...Lou fires his pop gun...and... ***WARNING***..............kills Lily (it still amazes me every time I watch it...HOW do ya kill off Ginger?). In retaliation, Al shoots Lou, and...there it is.
Al tries to 'change' the crime scene to make it look like they shot each other, or a 'murder-suicide' deal, with little success in fooling the CSI of the day. However, Al has money (oh, yeah, lest we forget...) - so, to keep his nose clean, he basically pays off the 'powers that be', who know there's mondo evidence against him... well, except one cop named Moran (Sidney Toler), who just happens to have all the pieces to the multiple murder figured out..as well as the drive to bury Al, as he was demoted when he busted Al for speeding earlier in the proceedings...but Moran just needs to find someone who ISN'T paid off. He gets the press involved, and they 'challenge' Al to have his fingerprints taken to compare to the murder weapon...dang, didn't dude have a lawyer or two on retainer?
Well, I'll leave it at that...the film plays out pretty well 'post-Lily', but the ending is a bit...easy, shall we say.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, it's pretty dang obvious which moment ISN'T my favorite, and most likely my least fave Ginger moment EVAH... I still just don't like watching it...and the pics to follow will NOT document the scene much at ALL, y'all... although yeah, it IS the whole 'crux of the matter', plot-wise... hey, my review, my decision, right? OK - well, as for fave moments, of course, ya can't go wrong with the 'powder puff' routine, which is in video form above...but I DID take a FEW screen caps of it as well, as you may have guessed... other than that, every 'non-last' Ginger scene is really quite nice, as her character is just VERY likeable... As for the 'theme' here, really not much deviation from the film...but there IS a good bit of 'observations' which one may find amusing... so here ya go:
"...these water rides at Coney Island are getting more shoddy by the day..."
"...Listen, what's your game, fella? You some kinda cop or something?"
"...well, no...I like to think of myself as a budding philanthropist with a generous heart..."
"...ummm-hmmm...more like a fat cat on the make..."
"...well, I'll see ya...thanks for the zoot suit, Jackson..."
"...er...think I'll get it taken up a bit at the extremities..."
"...well, just make yerself comfy while I go climb out of this clown suit...throw on some tunes if ya want..."
"...is that Barry White he's putting on? Uh-oh...we've got a live one here..."
HUEY note... I WAS going to throw some witty repartee with these next few pics, but...lemme just say... I LUV it when Ginger is unfurling her hair...that is all... :-]
"...How am I gonna get rid of this chump without hurting his feelings?"
"...he DID pretty much save my life, I guess...oh well, not much else cooking tonight, so...maybe I'll give him a shot...he DOES have plenty of bones..."
"...OK, here's the deal... I'll buy dinner if it's heads...if it's tails, I'll just leave the room and come back with some food that I will have purchased from a dining establishment that has 'take-out'..."
"...well, I'm not sure which side is which, so I guess I'll just go grab us some cheeseburgers, eh?"
"...hey, hold the onions on mine, Rufus!"
...and now for something completely different...the following few frames roughly represent a fantasy lunch date with Miss Ginger Rogers and your humble blogger:
...now, you MAY not be aware of this, but Hu's birthday is upon us, at the end of the month of June... and, this poster would REALLY be a nice token of appreciation from one of you bodacious Gingerologists out there...yep.
...of course, the 'Powder Puff' routine is on the video above, but...just one of the MANY caps I took of the routine...just thought this one was cool, due to the puff thingy being all fuzzy and throwing out that white powdery stuff...hmmm, wonder what that white powdery substance IS, anyway? They SAY it's 'talcum', but...you know how those burlesque houses can be...they're the forerunners of the 'Studio 54' debacle... Well, Ginger's a teetotaler, tho, so I'm not worried...
"...Thanks for giving me this, but I don't think it will fit me..."
"...wow...I've met some dunderheads in my day, but...YOU trump them all, Mac!"
...hey, Ginger has a bird on her shoulder...cool!
...oh, wait a minute...that's just some cheesy sculpture in the back...never mind...
"...I'm telling you, this Howard dude is rich and dumb! The perfect sucka to play and get some clams!"
"...so you can make some chowder, to match what's in your head?"
"...Let me show you an old trick I learned back at Lehigh..."
"...STOP SHORT! MAKE A MOVE!!!"
"...Look, Timmy, I'll let that pass THIS time, being's how ya saved my neck and all, but... the next time, you'll be pushing up daisies!"
"...er, sorry I over-reacted, Clyde... you are a nice fella and everything..."
"...it's just that..."
"...well, your elevator doesn't go all the way to the penthouse level, capiche?" ...HUEY note: BTW, this cap is totally priceless... Ginger may not care for it, but...it's PRICELESS.
"...so, the plane ran outta gas, eh, Walter?..."
"...I bet that happens to ALL the girls you take on these twisted little soirees of yours..."
"...Sounds great, Jim-Bob! I'll be ready at 6! Can't WAIT to go to the Elks Lodge with ya!"
"...and boy, I just LOVE these phones with the big, bulky, inflexible cords on them..."
"...So, are ya gonna frame this Reginald dude, or do I have to...you know..."
"...become the most hated character in the history of Gingerology?"
...and for the record, this is probably the only film I am aware of that Ginger wields a pistol (correct me if I am wrong, which I am sure I am...er, Star of Midnight, maybe?) ...notice I didn't say FIREARM... there's at least one other movie where she not only brandishes a firearm but is a pretty good shot... it's a review down the road, about 12 or so films away...
...shoot him now! SHOOT HIM NOW!!! ..JUST...pull...the trigger...now...NOW!!! ...dang it.
...unfortunately, Lily was a bit too nice to both of these doofuses (doofi?) ...so, this is one of the last frames we see Lily in...and dang it, she's awesome...dang, y'all... this one was ALMOST the 'header pic' for this post, but it got a bit fuzzy when I blew it up...dang it...
"...yep...I REALLY should have unloaded the chamber on that Lou idiot when I had the chance...and I probably should have taken out that other cat, too...what was his name again?"
"Ginger Rogers is gaily spontaneous as the revue beauty. She dances with grace and delicacy and maintains her wistful southern charm although cast in a supposedly 'hard-boiled' part." - Los Angeles Times
"Roy Del Ruth, the director, has given the script a lively and engrossing production. The actors, perhaps, are too agreeable for satire. The audience can resent none of these. William Warren, as the millionaire, is friendly, human and deserving of sympathy. It is impossible to dislike either Mary Astor, as the thoughtless wife, or Ginger rogers as the showgirl." - New York Times
"Upper World represents a successful triumph of acting over material. Not that its plot lines are particularly undistinguished; it is simply that they do not measure up to the standards of the acting William Warren, Mary Astor and Ginger Rogers bring to them..." - New York World-Telegram
From GINGER: My Story: "During 1934 I made seven films, starting with Upper World for Warner Brothers. I knew very little about the star, Warren William, but I found him a very cordial man. I was sad not to work with his screen wife, Mary Astor; I would love to have had a scene with her. Unfortunately, my character was shot by a gangster who meant to shoot Warren William, but missed and shot me instead. That was the end of my activity in the film!"
--- The title of the film 'toggles' back and forth on different posters between 'Upper World' and 'Upperworld' (the title of the film (see top of post) has it the latter way); the WB Archive has it 'Upper World', so that's what we'll go with...
--- The spelling of Ginger's character's first name also differs from here to there, as the intro credits at the first of the film has it as 'LILLY', but later in the film when Stream and Oscar stop in front of the burlesque hall, her poster out front has it spelled 'LILY'.
--- Mickey Rooney was in a scene, which was unfortunately deleted from the final film.
--- Sidney Toler, who plays Officer Moran (who is on the trail of Stream as the murderer), eventually became Charlie Chan in several features for M-G-M.
--- Dickie Moore, who plays Stream's little boy, was briefly in 'The Little Rascals' series, and, in the 1942 film Miss Annie Rooney, gave 14-year old Shirley Temple her first on-screen kiss.
GingerFilm Ranking: #09 of 26. Again, a bit better than I would have thought starting out...but Ginger is just pretty dang awesome in this one, and it's really a shame she couldn't have just gotten grazed or whatever, so she could have been around for the ending...well, of course, that would have CHANGED the ending, which probably would have been pretty good...but then again... what do I know? Anyway, it's definitely one to watch for Gingerologists.
After Twenty-Five Reviews:
#01 - Rafter Romance
#02 - Professional Sweetheart
#03 - 42nd Street
#04 - Flying Down to Rio
#05 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#06 - Sitting Pretty
#07 - The Tenderfoot
#08 - The Tip-Off
#09 - Upper World
#10 - Queen High
#11 - Change of Heart
#12 - Young Man of Manhattan
#13 - You Said A Mouthful
#14 - Carnival Boat
#15 - A Shriek in the Night
#16 - The Thirteenth Guest
#17 - Don't Bet On Love
#18 - Chance at Heaven
#19 - Finishing School
#20 - Broadway Bad
#21 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#22 - The Sap From Syracuse
#23 - Suicide Fleet
#24 - Follow The Leader
#25 - Honor Among Lovers
#26 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: The Gay Divorcee... ...and, here we go... it's gonna be hard not only to 'compare and contrast' GandF movies to the ones reviewed thus far, but to just watch it 'objectively'...
Until then, as always...