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Susan Green

To See or Not to See

(20 January 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 3, 20 January 1941, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Rich Boy, Poor Girl Divorce
“Kitty Foyle”

Ginger Rogers is my favorite actress. Back in the days when Hollywood’s queens never cracked their faces into expressiveness, Ginger was acting on the principle that the face should be more than a pretty mask. She has gone far on that principle. Another fact that marks her up in my eyes is that she usually plays the part of the girl or woman who works for a living. Her acting as the tom-boy daughter of the slums in the Primrose Path I voted the best female screen performance of 1940.

From this introduction you have guessed that I think Ginger Rogers pretty swell as Kitty Foyle, in this film story about the unhappy love of a white collar girl for a son of Philadelphia blue bloods. To see her in action is a delight. Only once in this rather long film did I catch an expression that was a dud. From an attitude of uncomprehending pain on being told that her baby was born dead, she turns full face to the camera to give the audience the benefit of tears on lashes. That I didn’t like.

I have not read the Christopher Morley book on which the film is supposed to be based. However, what the critics are saying is that any resemblance – except for names of characters and places – is purely coincidental. The implication is that the story is much better.

However, I see much to be grateful for in the film. There is the scene where Kitty is selling $67.50-an-ounce perfume to the wealthy dowager; another showing what happens to two of three girls sharing a one-room apartment, when the boy friend of the third comes a-calling; another in which Kitty tells off the family of rich snobs into which she married and out of which she escapes as soon as she discovers their plans to make her over in their own image.

Running through the whole story is the burning desire of girls of Kitty’s class for a home of their own and security – through a husband whose job might possibly be more secure than their own. And while most rich-guy-meets-poor-girl stories end with the fiction that there are no social differences in this country, this film strikes the honest note that the social differences between the rich and the poor are real and insurmountable.

Nothing to Get Excited About
“Night Train”

Just what the critics saw in this English picture to rave about remained invisible to me. Perhaps they were influenced – at least a little – by the “all out for Britain” campaign. It is a rather routine escape-from-the-Nazi film, of which the number is now legion.

Moreover, in Night Train credulity is required to stretch itself quite a bit. You will be asked to believe that Englishmen can traipse about Germany in Nazi officer and storm troop uniforms – that a couple of Englishmen in Germany, simply by picking up a receiver, can hear important gestapo secrets which enable them to go to the rescue of a compatriot – that the Nazi military staff are nitwits – that in general every thing in Nazi Germany works out just as an English man plans.

As is usual in this type of film, there is the prominent scientist. In this case the Nazi want to keep him because he is working on an experiment to produce invincible steel or something. He escaped to England from Czechoslovakia, but was kidnapped by the Nazis and returned to Germany. So a British secret agent, who has of course fallen for the scientist’s inevitable daughter, goes to Germany, poses as an officer of the Nazi engineers’ corps no less, and gets scientist plus daughter over the border into Switzerland.

What saves the film from flatness is the element of suspense. There is the situation where the lion-in-Nazi-uniform is caught whistling an English tune. Then he is recognized by an English tourist. Later, the note warning him that the gestapo is on to him, is almost taken from the waiter’s tray by a gestapo agent. And, of course, some may like the ending where the hero fights for his life by the synchronized use of two cable cars over a bottomless Alpine gorge. Don’t worry. He gets over the border – and kisses the heroine.

Praise is due the actors who play the role of two imperturbable English tourists in Germany, more concerned over the loss of their golf clubs than about the declaration of war.

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