If ya ever wonder...yeah, Huey's ALL-TIME fave GingerFilm is... Kitty Foyle. Of course, it's an awesome Academy-Award winning performance, but on top of that, the film itself is just 'wall-to-wall' Ginger! It HAS to be the most 'camera time' Ginger receives in any of her films, as of course, it's all about Kitty!
The movie was released on December 27, 1940 by RKO Radio Pictures, with much anticipation, for the role was much sought after by many Hollywood actresses. Ginger's studio, RKO, bought the rights to it, and gave her 'right of first refusal' for it. She initially balked at the role after reading the 'uncut' novel - she recalled in her bio that "...there were explicit love scenes in it that were quite disturbing to me. As I read these passages, I found myself passing judgement on them. "That could never pass the censor board. So what good is it for me to spend time reading it? I was really embarrassed that RKO would send me something like this."
For example, Kitty and Wyn never marry in the book, but all the other 'events' DO happen... of course in 1940 this was not acceptable, so RKO had to marry them 'up front' to pass the glare of the Hays Office. And, I'm pretty sure Ginger was in line with the more 'proper' storyline as well (...she was such a good girl, y'all! :-] ) While the final film script was quite 'toned down', it was still a bit 'edgy' for mainstream audiences at the time.
Ginger had been wanting to do a 'drama' for awhile. She had just finished up a 'semi-dramatic' film, 'Primrose Path'; it was part drama, part comedy, part romance...and it 'whetted' Ginger's appetite for a 'full' dramatic role. She still had reservations about Kitty's storyline, but the producer (David Hempstead) sent Ginger the 'revised' script, and as she recalled in her bio, "I realized it was one hell of a script, and was convinced that whoever played the role would end up with an Oscar. I saw it that vividly."
Ginger played the role to perfection, and she 'owned' the part - it's hard to imagine anyone else as Kitty. Her performance not only earned her an Oscar, but it galvanized her as an actress that could rub elbows with Hepburn, Fontaine and Davis and not end up with tennis elbow (bah-dum-dah... :-} ), and it solidified her 'Hard-Working American Girl' persona, which she portrayed so well in many subsequent films, and endeared her to an entire generation of moviegoers.
And the rest is cinematic history, as they say... Kitty Foyle was a pretty major story in its day, and for Ginger to play it was the 'watershed moment' which vaulted her to the pinnacle of her career...and proved to all that, as an actress, she could pretty much nail any role that was presented to her, in grand fashion...including Kitty Foyle, by Judas Priest!!!
- The role of Wyn was sought by David Niven, Robert Montgomery, Ray Milland, Laurence Olivier, Franchot Tone, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Brent and Melvin Douglas...but NOT Dennis Morgan; Morgan was originally considered for the role of Mark Eisen (the doc), along with Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Jeffrey Lynn, Patric Knowles and James Craig, who eventually was picked for the doc role.
- Molly, one of Kitty's roommates in New York (the blondish one), was played by director Sam Wood's daughter, Katharine (K.T.) Stevens.
- In order to get in a 'somber, tear-inducing mood' for the 'Kitty gives birth' scene, Ginger went to her dressing room and listened to Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet".
- The December 9, 1940 edition of LIFE magazine featured Ginger as Kitty Foyle on its cover - Ginger's second appearance on LIFE's cover. The article was about filming specific scenes of the movie, and did not really have much Ginger info, save for a few pictures.
- Of course, Ginger won the 1940 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Kitty, but the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Wood), Best Screenplay (Dalton Trumbo), and Best Sound (John Aalberg).
- In the movie Ginger made just before 'Kitty', "Lucky Partners", Ginger's character (Jean Newton) works in her aunt's (Spring Bynington) bookstore; in one scene, Jean is looking out the store window (where she is observing Ronald Coleman across the street), and the book "Kitty Foyle" is displayed in the window.
- When Ginger won the Oscar, she was greeted on the set of "Tom, Dick and Harry" the next day at RKO by staffers and actors dressed in top hats and tails.
- The dark sleeved dress with white collar and cuffs which Ginger wore in the movie is still known today in the garment trade as a "Kitty Foyle Dress".
- The movie was RKO's largest hit of 1940, earning $869,000.
- MGM's Tom and Jerry animated series gave it a nod in the title of 1948's short, "Kitty Foiled". The cartoon itself had, of course, nothing in common with "The Natural History of a Woman."
And finally, here is an overview of Kitty Foyle, and in Ginger's career in general, from none other than Mr. Robert Osborne, the 'overseer' of Turner Movie Classics, and probably one of the top 'classic' movie historians of our time. It was taken from the back cover of an LP of Ginger's radio production of Kitty Foyle - hopefully Mr. Osborne won't mind if I transcribe this here for all Gingerologists to read... interesting that it was written in 1975, exactly mid-way between Kitty in 1940 and where we currently sit. (BTW, in case Mr. Osborne or anybody else at TCM is reading this, please feel free to contact me regarding filling the 'guest host' spot in celebration of Ginger's 100th birthday on 07/16/11... yeah, I'll do it for FREE... or at LEAST for a lot less than Baldwin is being paid.. :-] )
Ginger Rogers once told a reporter, “Kitty Foyle was my first picture. It was my mother who made all those pictures with Fred Astaire.” The lady was kidding, of course, but there is no denying that everything connected with the spectacular Rogers career dates B.K. (Before Kitty) and A.K. (After Kitty). The Foyle role fit her like a coat of enamel, won her an Academy Award and kept her from being known solely as part of something called Astairenrogers.
Kitty Foyle was made at RKO Radio Studios in Hollywood in 1940, long after blonde and bouncy Ginger had been established as Fred Astaire’s most popular on-screen partner. She’d also proven her solo box office worth in a few comedies of her own. Up to that point, however, she hadn’t been established as an actress (and no fault of her own, but critics and the public have always assumed performances in musicals and comedies require no acting prowess, only nervous feet). One day she’d had quite enough, put down her foot – one of the unnervous ones – and divorced Fred as a partner. “No more musicals!” she told her bosses. While they ran for the aspirin bottle, Ginger started looking for a juicy role.
Enter Kitty Foyle, the most popular literary heroine of the day – and the timing couldn’t have been better. Kitty was the creation of author Christopher Morley, a hard-working white collar girl who was fed up to her typewriter ribbons. “I read about the guts of the pioneer woman, and the woman of the dust bowl, and the gingham goddess of the covered wagon,” says Kitty. “What about the woman of the covered typewriter? What has she got when she leaves the office?” It wasn’t all work for Kitty – she also had to choose between a liaison with a rich, married socialite and a romance with an industrious young doctor. But the public loved her, and every actress in the movie world wanted to play her. RKO, meanwhile, bought the screen rights and Ginger snapped it up. She darkened her hair, replaced the usual maribo feathers with a working girl’s wardrobe and went to town on the part, turning in a performance that made one critic clap his hands in glee, writing “Ginger Rogers plays Kitty Foyle so well it’s hard to remember she ever danced her way to fame.” The flourishing, epic touch came when she won that hard-to-get Oscar over the likes of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Martha Scott and Joan Fontaine. Goodbye, Fred!
In the years that followed, Ginger got to play everything from gum-chewing molls and ex-convicts to Dolly Madison and Dolly Levi, all thanks in great measure to that first encounter with Ms. Foyle. Her movie career has been long winded (36 active years, 73 major films), quite dazzling, an audience pleaser, always fun to watch. And despite the enduring fame of Astaire n’ Rogers, Rogers n’ Astaire, she is still best remembered as Kitty Foyle, the white collar girl. Their names remain synonymous. This is a permanent record of that collaboration – and proof the lady known as Ginger could do very well indeed without the hint of a Carioca, a Continental or a Castle Walk in reel three.
ROBERT OSBORNE, author of Academy Awards Illustrated and four other books on motion pictures. (circa 1975)
Finally, one of my fave Ginger pics ('screen captures') from the movie, from the 'Kitty meets the fam' scene... I think the 'black dorito' hat is just SO cool... with the black lace stuff...and the frilly, puffy collar...yow, that works, y'all :-] ...and of course, this scene is where Kitty gets her Irish up to the Nth degree (i.e., 'maximum' SassyGinger), so, yep...a great scene.
Well, hope this was informative and fun for y'all... of course, I can think of no better way to celebrate this occasion than by watching Kitty Foyle tonight...I believe I'll just do that!
KIG (AND Kitty-like!)