Monday, July 19, 2010

Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman

Superstar Ginger Rogers received her only Best Actress nomination and win for playing Kitty Foyle, a confused white-collar woman mixed up in a relationship with a rich man in the Best Picture nominated movie, Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman. It's sooooo easy to see why Rogers won the Oscar for this role: she had a very baity role (playing against the type) in a melodrama, she was a huge star and yet Oscarless. This is probably the best combination to win an Oscar. I'm not sure though if she was the front-runner, I think it might have been between Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, but tell me if I'm wrong.

Kitty Foyle is a bit cheap soap opera, which has its good moments, but overall it's weak, predictable and soappy. OK, I do not have much affection for 1940s melodramas, but even the wildest fans of the genre can admit that there have been much better movies than this one. There's nothing worth mentioning about it: mediocore screenplay, directing and actors. It's so much like To Each His Own, the mediocore movie, where the leading actress can shine her way to the Oscar podium. So it's not really a movie which is worth watching and sometimes it caused me suffering.

However, Ginger Rogers (miraculously) was able to give a very decent and strong performance as Kitty, the strong and fighting working girl, though I must say that her performance was a bit uneven. It started a bit weak (also the screenplay's fault) but after all I warmed up to it and in the end she truly impressed me. This win of Rogers is one of the least popular ones: if we talk about this year (or you watch polls), people almost never pick her for the win, all supporting Davis, Hepburn or Fontaine.

As I said, the beginning is rather weak and it does not have much weight. I felt it was too standard and usual, which I really dislike as even being bad has some originality. However, I must mention the 80% of it is the screenplay's fault since it does not give anything special to Rogers. You have to be VERY talented to be special with a bad book and unfortunately Rogers was a bit limited performer.

Somehow I felt that the poor quality of the movie had a bad effect on Rogers' overall performance. You cannot build a palace of only water, if you know what I mean. And yet, somehow Rogers found the perfect balance and was able to elevate the material to become something tolerable. Somewhere towards the scenes where she finds true love I felt that Rogers found herself too in this role and she was able to deliver a brilliant performance.

She handles the cheesy and sentimental story with so much seriousness as if it was Shakespeare and this was a perfect decision. She made Kitty a breathing, loving and most of all living human being. She became really natural and the star suddenly disappeared and I saw an actress. Her charm and talent shined through the movie and made me want to see more of her. And there's a great factor because of which she was able to imporve her performance: the screentime. She's onscreen for 90% of the movie, actually there are no scenes not involving her and fortunately she was able to live with all the opportunites of this. The character development was extraordinary as I could witness that Kitty became a mature woman, who went through a lot of bad things andyet she never gave up.

The hospital scene (I know I'm a great sucker for these ones) is simply amazing and is the higlight of her whole performance. Her despair and sadness is almost heartbreaking to watch and she avoided over-the-topness excellently, she was never too much and she achieved so much effect with subtlety. It really had some emotional weight and I was most greatful for that when I was watching this poor movie.

I have a big problem with the rating: she was a 2.5 at the beginning, a 3.5-4 in the middle and a very strong 4.5 at the end of the movie. Overall I can say that she gave a very strong and memorable performance and I was convinced about a rating at the beginning but now I've become uncertain. She is truly great but I simply cannot overcome the fact that she's so uneven. A performance that could have been so great, but was damaged by the quality of the movie. Too bad. I guess I'm using mathematics.

So comments anyone? The Final Conclusion is soon to come! To watch Kitty Foyle, click here.

1 comment:

joe burns said...

I still stand by my original guess, though I could be wrong.