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Vivacious Lady stars a young James Stewart as botany professor Peter Morgan and Ginger Rogers as the title character – a nightclub singer named Francey. When Peter and Francey meet, it’s love and first sight and they impulsively get married. However, Peter is then faced with the prospect of telling his conservative parents – not to mention his fiancee Helen! – what he has done. Lots of comedy ensues as he struggles to find the right time, and the couple have to hide their romance.

This film is a sparkling delight from start to finish. James Stewart is just so bloody likeable and sincere in everything he ever did, and Ginger Rogers had perfect comic timing, which made her shine in a hilarious fight scene. Not that she has the monopoly on physical comedy in this film – Stewart’s character getting drunk is terrific (he does a splendid drunken scene two years later in The Philadelphia Story) and there is a wonderful dance scene with Rogers, James Ellison as Peter’s cousin Frank, and Beulah Bondi as Peter’s mother Martha.

With Charles Coburn playing Peter’s father, who takes an instant dislike to Francey, and great turns from Frances Mercer as Helen, this is a great cast who all seem to be enjoying themselves. And this certainly translates to the viewer, because I can’t imagine anyone finishing this film without a smile on their face.

In short, this is called a classic for a very valid reason. If you like films from this genre, then don’t miss this one!

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In this 1938 comedy, James Stewart plays Peter Morgan, a college professor.  While on a trip to New York City, he meets nightclub singer/dancer Francey  Brent (Ginger Rogers), and after a whirlwind romance, they get married.  But when he takes her home to meet his family, he finds it difficult to tell his very conservative parents about his wedding…

What a gem of a film this turned out to be.  Stewart and Rogers were both extremely funny and likeable as the mis-matched but devoted couple, and as one thing after another conspired to keep them apart, the laughs kept coming.  An excellent supporting cast – especially Beulah Bondi as Peter’s mother, and James Ellison as his cousin Keith – who has also fallen for Francey – further enhanced the film.

It is a mixture of screwball comedy and romance, and both aspects balance each other out nicely.  It is a very light-hearted film, and I defy anyone not to laugh during it, and not to have a broad smile on their face at the end of it.

Vivacious Lady is not the most famous film featuring either Stewart or Rogers, but it does deserve to be better known.  The cliche ‘they don’t make ’em like that anymore’ is certainly true here.  Sadly, this film doesn’t seem to come on television very often, so if you do see it in programme listings, don’t miss out on the opportunity to watch this delightful picture.

Year of release: 1938

Director: George Stevens

Producer: George Stevens

Writers: I.A.R. Wylie, P.J. Wolfson, Ernest Pagano, Anne Morrison Chapin

Main cast: James Stewart, Ginger Rogers, James Ellison, Beulah Bondi, Charles Coburn, Frances Mercer

 

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Not to be confused with the Marx Brothers film of the same name, this hilarious screwball comedy stars Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn and Marilyn Monroe.  Grant plays Barnaby Fulton, a scientist trying to develop an elixir of youth for a chemical company.  Barnaby takes the elixir himself, unaware that the concoction he’s taken is far stronger than he realises, having been tampered with by a chimpanzee (bear with me).  Soon, Barnaby is feeling rejuvenated, young and vital, and ends up spending the day in town with young secretary Lois Laurel (Monroe).  When Barnaby’s wife Edwina (Rogers) tries the potion she reverts back to her youth and starts acting like a petulant and emotional schoolgirl.  Mayhem – and plenty of laughter – ensue….

From the very beginning of this movie, with Cary Grant being the self aware centre of a joke (where he interrupts the credits and an off screen voice can be heard saying, “Not yet Cary”), it’s obvious that this is not a film to be taken seriously under any circumstances.  The plot is implausible, illogical and at times ridiculous – but that’s part of what makes it so genuinely funny.  Cary Grant has terrific comic timing and provides so many laughs; there are a lot of visual gags in this film, which are as funny as they are daft.  Ginger Rogers is as good as (or dare I say it, possibly even better) that Grant, and really makes the most of her role – she gets to briefly show off her amazing dancing skills, and watch out for the scene with the glass on her forehead!  Grant and Rogers really bounce well off each other (and I personally thought that Rogers was easily as gorgeous as Marilyn Monroe).

If you want something to make you laugh, I would certainly recommend this film – one to be enjoyed time and again.

Year of release: 1952

Director: Howard Hawks

Writers: Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, I.A.L. Diamond, Harry Segall

Main cast: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn

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