1 April 2001 | FISHCAKE
Maybe not in anyone's top 100, but what's not to like about Ginger and Ronald?
It was an article of faith among the more cynical critics during the "golden age" of Hollywood movies that most of what the industry turned out could be summed up as "boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl but gets her back before the final fade". Well, here Lewis Milestone has directed just such a formula tale. But he, more famous for such films as ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, has handled the genre with such a light touch that the result is delightful. Mind you, I don't say the film is top 100 quality, but what's not to like about a Sacha Guitry romantic comedy featuring Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers and ending with a courtroom scene, common to this type of film in the 1930's and 1940's, presided over by Henry Davenport as Judge?
We start out with Colman as some sort of "mystery artist" accosted by Rogers with a hare-brained scheme to win the Irish sweepstakes, if only he will go halvers with her. He wished her "Good Luck" one morning, you see, and immediately she was given a lovely dress by a complete stranger. So naturally, she knew he was a sure token of good luck. She wants the money for her honeymoon, but Ronald has an idea of his own--he wants her to go with him on the honeymoon, strictly Platonic, of course. To make a long story a bit shorter, Ginger doesn't like the idea but Ronnie persuades her fiance, Jack Carson, that it's O.K. (Don't ask how!), so she finally agrees. They draw a horse on their ticket (if you don't know how the Irish Sweepstakes worked, there isn't room here to explain it all), but the horse doesn't win. However, Jack has sold one-half of the ticket for $6000 on the strength of the horse. He gives this to Ginger, who gives it to Ronnie, who arranges the trip and buys a car in Ginger's name. After considerable pussyfooting around it becomes clearer by the minute that Plato is going to lose this one. Ronnie gets cold feet and beats it in the car bought in Gingers's name. Naturally he is arrested for car theft, Ginger is arrested for possessing a stolen painting (I told you Ronnie as a "mystery artist"), Jack is arrested for breaking down Ginger's hotel room door (he got jealous after all), and they all end up in Henry Davenport's courtroom.
Now, don't read another word if you don't already know the outcome, but if you are of the female persuasion and had the choice of Ronald Colman or Jack Carson, whom would you choose. This courtroom scene is not the best of this sort, which I mentioned was common to the period, but it does serve to sort things out. It may be corn, but it is lovely, sweet corn, and not from Iowa. Light sparkling comedy was Sacha Guitry's stock in trade.