In NO way am I defending Mark Sandrich's overall attitude and downright MEANNESS toward Ginger, which is totally unexplainable...or is it? Riddle me this, y'all...
With all the 'Sandrich-bashing' afoot on the board, and my WELL-documented record of proclaiming Mr Sandrich the King of ALL Gooberheads, I thought I would just take a step back and 'ponder' this question: ...WHY did Sandrich act like such a toad to our fair Ginger? It's frankly a very perplexing issue...
I know y'all well enough to know y'all have thought about the 'angles' I am about to delve into regarding Sandrich's attitude towards Ginger...but I will throw it out there, anyway, for the record...
Let's say that Sandrich came home one evening and had the following conversation with his wife:
"How was work today, dear?"
"Um...ok - started production of a new film...should be a good one..."
"Why, that's simply BEGUILING news! What's it called?"
""The Gay Divorcee" ... it's a musical..."
"Well, that's nice - who will be in it?"
"uh... Fred Astaire, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore..." (note that Ginger isn't mentioned...)
"That's a stellar cast, Poopsie...that young Astaire fellow was quite good in the Rio movie...but who will play the 'divorcee'?"
"Oh, it's just that little blonde girl that danced with him in 'Rio'..." (obviously downplaying the fact that he will be directing Ginger)
"You mean Ginger Rogers? You're going to be directing HER? ...WELL!!! ...I might just have to follow you down to the set each day to make sure you don't do any 'post-production' with HER!"
...and that could well be the start of Mr. Sandrich's conscious effort to go out of his way to NOT show any kindness or favoritism to Miss Rogers, for fear of mama back home, even if she was only being 'jovial' in her 'warning' to Poopsie... because , REALLY - there would not have been a sane man in 1934 (nor any other year, for that matter) who would have not at least been CORDIAL to Ginger, right? As 'backup' for this theory, recall Fred's wife Phyllis' feelings toward him working with Ginger... nuff said.
Now - the first reaction most of y'all have is..."WELL! that is JUST like a man - blaming a woman for a man's troubles!" Well, yep, I agree totally. IF this was the scenario, dude should have 'manned up', directed properly, and let the chips fall where they may - or he should have walked away from the production.
The only OTHER scenario I can figure is that he was REALLY taken by Ginger, and, again, made a conscious effort to NOT show any favoritism or even joviality to her, lest HE fall deeply in love, only to be crushed in the end - maybe he had been down that road before with previous actresses on previous sets...
Well, if those two scenarios are false...the only other option was... dude was a blithering idiot.
As to the title of this post - could Sandrich actually be Ginger's BEST director? Well, he DID direct half of the GandF movies, and while it's obvious her fave (as well as the fave of MOST of us) is 'Swing Time', due in LARGE part to having a director OTHER than Sandrich, let's face it, 'Gay Divorcee', 'Top Hat', 'Follow The Fleet', 'Shall We Dance', and 'Carefree' are ALL TOTALLY essential movies in the Gingerology lexicon... and each movie IS very well directed, overall.
AND, the crux of the matter is this...he obviously got Ginger's dander up... and that usually is a good thing - as the 'Sassy Ginger' is the one we all know and love, right? Think about her characters in each of these movies... compared to the 'non-Sandrich' movies... I would argue that overall, the 'Sassiest' Gingers are directed by Sandrich. I think 'Shall We Dance' is perhaps the MOST Sassy Ginger, although the way she slaps Fred around in 'Top Hat 'makes it a strong candidate also. And of course, the infamous 'Feather dress' saga alone is perhaps THE major 'epiphany' that Ginger had in regards to her career, as to not backing down - and ultimately made her that much stronger of an actress.
As for his obvious mishandling of scenes with Ginger, well...just not much defense for that, unless... he was worried that too much Ginger 'face time' in a movie would equal out to trouble with mama at home... but overall, I feel that Ginger benefited from the 'adverse conditions' Sandrich imposed on her, for "that which don't kill ya...makes ya stronger!"