Monday, December 30, 2013

Professional Sweetheart (1933)


“I wanna sin and suffer. I’m just sufferin’”

            It always amazes me with Old Hollywood how the studios tried to make their stars look like perfect human beings who never sinned and were not allowed to be human beings. I blame America for always trying to be morally decent for there not being a separation of church and state at the time and for the Breen Code (I always think the men and women of the Catholic League and the all the decency groups that protested Hollywood films back then would have a stroke with today’s TV shows let alone movies! Can you imagine them watching Game of Thrones or Knocked Up?!). Anyway… based off of watching Professional Sweethearts it seems this decency and hiding a star’s true identity extended into the radio business.
            Glory (Ginger Rogers) is a radio singer known across America as the Purity Girl. Her program is sponsored by a company called Ippsie Wippsie. Glory is anything but pure. She is dying to go out to night clubs in Harlem to dance all night and drink and meet people and eat whatever kinds of food she wants. Most of all Glory wants a pair of racy lacy black underwear. She blackmailed Ipswich, the owner of Ippsie Wippsie, to buy her the underwear otherwise she would blow her purity cover on the air. Glory is getting upset with being treated like a little girl for the company.
            The men surrounding her want her to sign a new contract. Glory refuses because they will not let her do what she wants. They all come up with an idea to get her a sweetheart by having Glory sing about wanting one. Glory does not want a sweet boy she wants an international playboy. Unfortunately the men pick one out her from a piece of fan mail that is a WASP from the south. They have picked a guy named Jim from Kentucky.
            A reporter named Elmerada (Zasu Pitts) comes up to interview Glory. The men have set the fan letter up for Elmerada to see so she can report on it. She wants on the information on Glory’s new boyfriend. Obviously Glory has no clue what Jim is like and has no idea what his letter even says.
            Jim arrives in town a few days later. He is wearing an everyday suit. The men want Jim to look like he is from the mountains for they stick poor Jim in flannels and heavy clothes. The press wants Glory and Jim to get married. All Glory cares about is going to Harlem.
            A man named O’Connor works for a rival radio sponsor. He hears that Glory has not yet signed her contract with Ippsie Wippsie  and desperately wants her.
            One of the men named Speedy talks Jim into proposing to Glory. He asks her if she is happy. She says no and he tells her he wants to make her happy. Jim kisses Glory and she likes it. The men arrange for Glory and Jim to get married on the air. They think she will sign her new contract they give her for a wedding present.
            The other sponsor arranges a honeymoon for Jim and Glory in Atlantic City to get her to sign for them. The sponsor lets slip to Jim that everything that has happened was a publicity stunt. Glory hears the sponsor talking. The guy says he will let her smoke and drink and be immoral. Jim is upset when he hears Glory is excited for these things. Jim manages to sneak her away down to Kentucky.
            Once down in Kentucky at Jim’s place, Glory gets back at him by busting his chops. She tells him she has been with hundreds of men and she takes off her dress right in front of him in the living room. He grabs Glory and starts spanking her. She starts to fight back and he punches her out. Glory is fine she is just faking being hurt so she can get some attention.  
            Everyone in New York City is going crazy looking for Glory. They have the radio lie saying she is still away on her honeymoon. Speedy and another guy from the rival radio sponsor get the idea that Glory is with Jim at his place. Both men head down to Kentucky as quickly as they can.
            Glory has now been domesticated and likes it. She now cooks and cleans for Jim when all she had ever wanted to do was go out and be immoral and have a great time. Now she does not even want to go to Harlem anymore in fact she does not even want to go back to New York City. Speedy is not happy with Glory but he comes up with the idea to Vera, Glory’s black maid, on the air to get Glory jealous and want to come home. The other sponsor shows up. Jim likes his contract better and has Glory sign the rival’s contract.
            Back in New York Speedy signs Jim. Since both Jim and Glory are so popular the two companies wind up merging (they are both hand towel manufacturers if my memory is correct). Glory sings and Jim recites poetry.
            Ginger Rogers was hilarious. I love her in Pre-Code films because she was so modern and so saucy and so snarky and incredibly hilarious. I was dying laughing with her when Glory threw a tantrum and was crying. Rogers was so funny she did not hold back at all.  It was interesting to seeing Rogers walk around in her underwear and play a character that wanted to drink and be immoral because she was one of the most moral and straight laced actresses in Hollywood in any decade she made films in. This is the only film where Rogers was ever voiced over for the music numbers. The voice was terrible it did not fit her at all! If you have seen her even in her early musicals with Fred Astaire, Rogers is not a bad singer. 

            Professional Sweetheart is cute. The story about a corporation trying to control someone drove me insane. It was definitely a rip on the studio system. I love Old Hollywood but I hate what the system did to their actors and actresses and what they made them do just to make them look perfect. Professional Sweetheart is definitely a film I only recommend the Ginger Rogers fans to watch. It is a good example of a Pre-Code  though so maybe if you are a Pre-Code fan too.